Have you ever used a typewriter? Banging the keys with your fingers and ensuring you hit them hard so as to put enough ink on paper has been the popular method to create documents aside from handwriting and more expensive blocks used for mass printing. During that time, printers are massive and are only used for published books, spreadsheets and marketing. Typewriters allow the masses to use machines to create documents in an analog format. When you take a look at the fonts used on standard typewriters, they carry slab serif fonts. One thing, though about the keys is that each letter or character takes up the same width or size on the page. Since the size is the same for all letters and numbers compared to more proportioned types, they are called monotype fonts.
The unique sizes of characters create the unique appeal of Monotype fonts. They are so unique that they have outlived the era of typewriters and have been used in CRT screens since the pixels tend to be the same size. There are unique reasons why the Monospaced types are still present until now. When desktop publishing became the standard, proportionality in fonts has become important standards. However, while real typefaces were ideal for many reasons, especially when it comes to layout and spacing, there are tasks in which shifting to monospaced fonts were more relevant.
Editing requires considerable assessment of copy. Every page, letter and word had to be checked for grammatical and syntactic errors. Proportional type, for some, made work more tedious since it did not offer the flow that monospaced fonts offered. Interestingly enough, even those who might not have used typewriters can make similar assessments that reading on a monotype font for editing purposes was more helpful for faster pointing of errors.
Plain and simple
What Monospaced fonts offered was freedom from stylized fonts. While stylish fonts are not accessible or can be purchased online, they tend to come off as distractions especially when trying to focus on the content. In a sense, monospaced fonts are content-friendly. Many fonts nowadays are designed for artistic purposes, usually to represent the actual output. Monospaced fonts are great since they are simple and the consistency in strokes, widths and spacing allow the editor to go through lines of content in a clear and open manner.
Not just for content
Written literature, books or reports may benefit from monospaced fonts, but their purpose does not end there. Computer programmers also prefer the monospaced fonts when creating or editing program source codes. Even in programming books, samples are often written in monospaced fonts. This allows the programmer to sift through coding mistake because the proportions of the letters are all equal. The letter I and the letter M have the same space allocation. The letters are notch scrunched and words are easily read.
The simplicity and equal sizing of characters in monospaced fonts have become the ideal option for many printed forms. For example, in music, tablatures for guitars are often written in monospaced fonts for easier reading. The alignment of the type also was a good option in writing protein sequences in Biological papers so sequences can be compared with more ease. Scripts for stage and television are also written in standard 12point Courier since each page will determine a specific timing, making it more effective to economize the content to fit within the limitations. The application of monospaced fonts have become widely established across many industries, showing that fonts are not just about styles and proportions. The right font can make work easier and this can offer better results for any editing, writing, programming, musical or scientific work.
Most Usable Monospaced Fonts
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Here are some of the more popular fonts that carry the unique characteristics of a monospaced font. Some or more are still visible today while others are not as relevant.
The most popular and widely used of Monospaced fonts would have to be Courier. This is a monospaced slab serif font that resembles the output from a typewriter. It was created in 1955 by Howard Kettler but has been redrawn by Frutiger for IBM for their electric typewriters.
Prestige Elite is a monospaced type that was created in 1953 by Clayton Smith for IBM. The Prestige Elite was used along with Courier for the electric typewriters that they created. However, this font did not receive as much attention as Courier and are not widely used today.
Fixedsys or Fixed System is a suite of monospaced fonts that are wider compared to other fonts. This is the oldest Windows font and was once known as System. The Fixedsys has been replaced in the future versions of Windows but would still be used on Windows Notepad.