MOKUJI—collection of
notes by Zac Fukuda

Study of Web Safe Fonts, Monospace & Cursive

005
Oct 15, 2015

In previous two aritcles, I explored serif and sans serif typefaces so far. This article is on Monospace and Cursive typefaces. For reference, "monospaced" means that it has same letter widths and spacings throughout all characters. This is why monospaced fonts are also called fixed-pitch, fixed-width, or non-proportional fonts.

Courier

Courier was designed by Susan Nobrega in 1955 for IBM's typewriters. Although it was commisioned by IBM, the company didn't take any action to secure legal exclusivity, probably for they want it be used throughout the typewriter industry. For this reason, Courier typeface is not copyrighted and is completely royalty free.

Courier New

Courier New was redrawn by 20th century typeface designer Adrian Frutiger. I couldn't find any information exactly when it was revised, but since its revision was for IBM Selectric, it could be around 1961.

Courier New is deliberately thinner than Courier because typically golf balls were designed thinner concerning that these expand as it soaks into the paper and the font was just directly digitized from these.

Monaco

Mocaco was designed by Susan kare and Kris Holmes for Apple. I also couldn't find any resoureces about when it was designed, but Wikipedia says that it's been shipped with all OS X, so it could be 1999 or 2000. Monaco was the default monospaced font until the release of OS X 6 Snow Leopardo, repalced with Menlo.

Lucida Console

Lucida Console is a variant of Lucida Console, designed for Microsft. Between 2000 to 2009 it's been used as the default font for Notepad. I cannot display this font, so it might be not available on all Apple's products.

Comic Sans MS

Comic Sans MS, commonly referred to as Comic Sans, was designed by Vincent Connare in 1994 for Microsoft, and was first shipped with Windows 95. It is aimed to be fun and really casual, plus, extremely readable on-screen at small sizes.

Connare had an idea from the lettering used by the major comic and hopes people find the font fun. The font is appropriate to young generation, however, it is sometimes used in formal documents.

Difference

hopivamt Courier
hopivamt Courier New
hopivamt Monaco
hopivamt Lucida Console
hopivamt Comic Sans MS

Among Serif, Sans Serif, and Monospace, Monospace typefaces are the most different from each other. Comic Sans MS is the only available cursive font on browsers, but generally this is categorized as Sans Serif.

hopivamt Courier
hopivamt Courier New
hopivamt Monaco
hopivamt Lucida Console
hopivamt Comic Sans MS

Since screen resolutions are getting higher and higher, there is no problem to display really thin Courier New on screens anymore. For the rechord, bold Courier New is thicker than regular Courier.

My Opinion

Obviously, monospaced typefaces are not aimed to be readable. In iPhone Fonts, John Gruber says "Courier New is the only fixed-width font on the iPhone, which means all fixed-width text looks like complete ass."

However, when you want to express some old-fashionedness Monospace is a good choice, especially Courier or Courier New. The invention of typewriter occured in 1860s and it had been used until personal computers have taken its role in 1980s. If you designed for oroganizations or companies that have history, monospaced fonts might suit. Otherwise avoid using them.

Resources