Shareware Beach

Friday, 1 December 2006

Another Great Font for Programmers

Filed under: Software Development — Jan @ 17:24

Seems my love affair with the Consolas font may be short-lived! A reader pointed out that the Bitstream Vera Sans Mono font available on the Gnome website is also excellent for programming.

I installed it, and everything I said about Consolas also applies to Bitstream Vera Sans Mono. The font looks great with ClearType, but not so good without it. It is perfectly monospaced when mixing bold and plain variants, so your columns always line up. It’s a sans-serif font, so easy to read on the screen. Oh, zero, one and el are all easy to distinguish.

Which one to use is mainly a matter of taste. For a given font size, Consolas has smaller characters with more whitespace betweeen them, and a slash through the zero. The Bitstream font has larger tightly spaced characters, and a dot inside the zero. “Consolas” sounds like the name of a Spanish beauty, while “Bitstream Vera Sans Mono” is a mouthful.

The Bitstream Vera font collection can be freely distributed in its unmodified form, so you can download Bitstream Vera Sans Mono right here. To install it on your Windows PC, simply drag and drop the .ttf files from your zip utility into the C:\Windows\Fonts folder. They’ll be instantly available in all applications. Make sure to look under “B” for Bitstream rather than “V” for Vera.

The package also includes Bitstream Vera Sans which is a sans serif font like Arial, and Bitstream Vera Serif which is a serif font like Times New Roman. Both are proportionally spaced.


  1. Try the DejaVu fonts: “The DejaVu fonts are a font family based on the Bitstream Vera Fonts release 1.10. Its purpose is to provide a wider range of characters while maintaining the original look and feel through the process of collaborative development” The DejaVu fonts support east-european characters (diacritics) for instance (which Bitstream Vera doesn’t)

    Comment by Thorsten Kampe — Friday, 1 December 2006 @ 18:28

  2. After spending time with Linux, I too got hooked on the Bitstream Vera Sans family — which I continued to use after switching back to windows. About a year ago, though, I discovered my new favorite monospace font: Dina Programming Font.

    Not sure how it stacks up against your, admittedly, more informed criteria (would love to find out) but for me, it’s a really comfortable and easy-on-the-eyes monospace option. The bold/normal weight variants are equal width to one another at the very least.

    Comment by Allen Day — Saturday, 2 December 2006 @ 8:22

  3. The Dina font is a bitmapped font. Most programming fonts that you can find on the Internet are bitmapped fonts, because they’re easy to create. Bitmapped fonts don’t scale, so you can’t adjust them to your eyesight level or screen resolution. They don’t print well, and don’t work with ClearType. Some Windows API calls also don’t support them (or rather, the font’s don’t have the features those API calls need).

    E.g. if you select the Terminal font size 14 in EditPad Pro 6, select the C++ file type, and type // ffffff, you’ll see that the last f is cut off. If you select any TrueType font, the last f is displayed fully. That’s because TrueType fonts tell how much “overhang” their characters have.

    That said, if a particular bitmapped font looks good to you, by all means use it.

    Comment by Jan Goyvaerts — Sunday, 3 December 2006 @ 16:25

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