Monospaced Fonts For Writing

by Christopher Paul on January 23, 2013

For the past year or so, as I’ve refocused on writing, I’ve tried a dizzying array of apps and tools to help me. I think I’ve (mostly) settled down on the right apps to use. On the Mac, I use Byword to write and MarsEdit to post. On iOS, I use Poster almost exclusively. The exception is if I plan to write between Mac and iOS; if that’s the case, I’ll use Byword for it’s iCloud sync.

But so many people I follow on Twitter and other places on the internet use iA Writer. It’s a great tool for productive writing. There are no options which means people spend time writing. I love the way it looks and, while I love the way Byword and Poster look on their respective platforms, iA Writer is nicer to look at when all you want is to type your thoughts. The thing that iA Writer lacks is elegant beauty (simplicity is its beauty) and good keyboard shortcuts (soft on iOS, hard on the Mac) which is why I opted to use Byword/Poster. Still, every now and then, I find myself trying iA Writer to see if I will finally like it.

By chance, I recognized something more specific about iA Writer I liked that I never focused on before: its monospaced font. iA Writer uses Nitti (credit: David Sparks). I’m sure it’s one of the reasons that iA Writer attracts so many users.

Other writing tools use a short list of sans and sans-serif fonts to chose from. The defaults their developers picked are beautiful and I’ve sticked with them 90% of the time. But to get as close to iA Writer as I can without losing the posting features and keyboard shortcuts I love, I’ve switched to whatever monospaced font they offer. On Poster, it’s Inconsolata which, ironically, David Sparks praised the other day and I never took notice until now.

David lists some other good alternatives like Adobe’s Sans Source Code (I use its cousin, Sans Source Pro, as the font for this site). Between his post on Inconsolata, the other monospaced fonts, and my earlier realization that the monospaced font of iA Writer (along with background and cursor color) can help me with my own writing workflow, I’ve changed all my writing defaults to use whatever monotype available. If I can, I’ll try to keep the fonts consistent across apps but I don’t think that’s possible.

I’m sure there are hundreds if not thousands of monospaced fonts to choose from but I’m impressed with the choices I’ve made so far and can already see the net positive on my writing/editing. Lastly, as if today was Font Discussion Day, Marco Arment linked to – and talks about – the readability myth of serif fonts and, more interestingly, his thoughts on fonts on different screen resolutions/sizes and what users of Instapaper prefer.

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