Looking for the best programming fonts?
You’re in the right place.
Programming and development has a lot of unique facets. Even so, one commonality is that every coder has personal choices when it comes to their setup. For example, there are fans and flames for all manner of coding editors, and this can stretch to the look within each editor.
While color schemes 🎨 get a lot of column inches across the web, your font choice is just as important. When it comes to the best programming fonts, you might have to test out a lot to find the right one for your needs and your eyes.
In the text 📄 below, we’ll look over 15 of the best fonts for programming. Throughout the post, we’ll discuss what each one contains, and let you know if others find a certain font that fits a specific use case. What’s even better, is that each one of these is free to download and use. We’ll then wrap it up by answering some commonly asked questions about coding fonts. Let’s get to it:
What you should look for in a superb free coding font
While font choice is subjective, there are a few “golden rules” that you’ll want to keep in mind as you assess each of the examples you come across. Your main concerns should be with visibility, legibility, and the font’s impact on your eyes. Strain can cut your working day down and erode your quality control. The following will help cover all of these bases:
- Make sure you can tell the difference at-a-glance between letters and numbers that look similar. The typical examples are “0” (the number) and “O” (the capital letter), but “I” and “l” aren’t similar – they are visually identical. Can you figure out which one is a capital “I” and which one is a lowercase “l.”?
- Lots of fonts push their collection of “ligatures” to the front of their feature set. These display custom versions of common symbols that programmers use on a regular basis. It can help with improving legibility and they look nice, to boot.
- Some fonts will include different variations of letters and numbers. This is because the same font could render differently within your choice of editor, or even operating system (OS).
- The font will likely work best for you if it uses “monospacing.” However, this isn’t always going to be the case, and you should let your eyes judge for you on this one.
- Speaking of which, the biggest consideration is whether the font makes your eyes strain and hurt. For this, you’ll likely need to use it for a while, but this is arguably the most subjective element on this list.
Once you understand what to look for in a programming font, 🔎 you can begin to search for your favorite. For the rest of the article, we’ll look at some of the best free programming fonts available in 2023:
Best fonts for programming and development – all are free
There are many examples of the best programming fonts, and if you trawl through any dedicated coding forum, you’ll soon find them all. We can’t include every font on this list, but instead, we can offer 15 of the best ones that crop up time and again. Let’s start with a super popular choice:
1. Fira Code
Our first font could be the only one you’ll need – it certainly is for many programmers. Fira Code is a monospace font that looks great in most situations:
While the letters and numbers look fantastic, it’s not the main focus of Fira Code. What makes it one of the best programming fonts is its approach to ligatures. Think of all the times you’ll use multi-symbol character sequences, and Fira Code will have a solution. For example, it will create a single, gorgeous symbol for arithmetic operators, comments, tags, comparisons, and many more language-specific cases:
What’s more, it improves the experience of almost everything you’ll do on the command line . We encourage you to look at everything this font can offer.
Users of editors such as Intellij IDEA, PyCharm, PhpStorm, and other JetBrains products will likely already have the best fonts for coding without lifting a finger. JetBrains Mono is the default font across all of the product line. As such, it has to be comfortable to use.
In contrast to Fira Code, JetBrains Mono is all about lettering. It takes care of elements such as the letter height, weight sizes, point sizes, and much more. For example, the letter “O” is more rectangular, to keep consistency with the rest of the letters:
However, there are also other “quality of life” additions, such as hundreds of ligatures and compatibility with just as many programming languages. Overall, JetBrains Mono will be your font of choice if you use any of the company’s editors.
Old Windows users will recognize Consolas. It was the default font for the Windows 8 version of Notepad, and you can still find it in modern versions of the Operating System (OS). This makes it a great choice if you use the OS for programming:
It’s not a strict monospaced font, but it leans on the format heavily. The key to its design is readability, both for letters and numbers. For the latter, you can employ hanging or underlined numerals, and choose from a few different ways to represent zero. You can customize these waves and bars to your own tastes too. For Windows users, we’d argue that Consolas will be your go-to programming font.
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For macOS users, Monaco is the “yin” to the Consolas “yang.” It ships with the OS, and is one of the first you should look at for your ideal programming font:
While it doesn’t act as the default monospaced font on Apple systems anymore (more on this later), you can still select Monaco. If you do, you’ll find readability in spades, especially with regards to many of the typical characters you’d struggle to contrast between:
You’ll also note how braces and brackets look distinct, and appear larger than their encased text. On the whole, Monaco is a workhorse font for programming, and one of the best best programming fonts you should check out if you code on macOS.
You’d be correct if you think Inconsolata takes inspiration from Consolas. It is also a monospaced sans-serif font, and bundles in further inspiration from popular typefaces Letter-Gothic and Avenir:
Inconsolata improves on its “hinting”, which is another way to say that it’s readable at both small and large sizes. It also provides bold and italicized variants, which can expand the scope of how you use it.
This is another workhorse that many programmers consider to be the best font for coding. As such, you’ll also want to check it out.
DejaVu Sans Mono is one of many fonts within the larger typeface family. However, it comes with similar benefits to Monaco (and by extension, Menlo later on), which makes it one of the best programming fonts available:
You’ll find that this font also distinguishes between letters and numbers that many programmers struggle to discern from one another. It offers so much scope that you can use it with spoken languages such as Greek and Thai. It also does a great job with mathematical operators and symbols:
DejaVu Sans Mono is a dark horse when it comes to programming fonts. It doesn’t get column inches often, but many coders gravitate to this typeface as an almost instinctive reaction.
Hack is another coding font that flies under the radar, despite being one of the best programming fonts. It offers a no-frills, yet near-perfect experience:
There are over 1,500 glyphs that come with this font. This means you can extend Latin, Cyrillic, modern Greek character sets, and much more. It also contains four face sets: regular, bold, italic, and a bold italic. It’s a derivative of DejaVu Sans Mono, which means it provides the same level of readability and legibility as its parent typeface.
8. Proggy Fonts
At first glance, Proggy Fonts looks like it should go back to the typeface archives. However, first impressions mean nothing in real-world use, and Proggy Fonts is one of the best fonts for programming you can find:
This is a straightforward monospaced font that works well with languages such as C and C++. However, it’s not exclusive to these languages. The font focuses on C-specific features, such as vertical centering for asterisks, and horizontal centering for braces and brackets. Even so, you’ll find a lot of mileage from Proggy Fonts, especially with its modern and scalable variant.
Next on the list of best programming fonts is Iosevka. It might be tough to pronounce correctly, but it won’t be tough on your eyes:
If you use a Terminal application a lot, Iosevka will slot into your setup. There are different families – Term and Fixed – that focus on the strict requirements you’ll have to follow within these apps. Both families look to preserve column count numbers, while the Fixed family does away with ligatures.
While we like the Sans variant, Slab is also gorgeous to look at. This is one to try out if you glue yourself to the command line often.
Monaco and DejaVu Sans Mono both intertwine with the history of Menlo. In fact, the font is based on the latter of the two, which brings with it all of the benefits and positives too:
Menlo was the replacement for Monaco as the macOS default monospaced font. However, it is also a backup now that SF Mono is the default. Despite this, Menlo is still a solid programming font, in part due to the restrictive licensing of SF Mono.
11. IBM Plex Mono
This is another left-field font for coding that you’ll likely enjoy once you use it. IBM Plex Mono is the monospaced variant within its main family, specifically designed for developers:
If you take a look at the specimens and descriptions, you’ll see that this font has a lot of design under the hood. It’s a “grotesque” type, which is much like Roboto, and has a similar look. This is a good thing, because it means you can adapt IBM Plex Mono to all sorts of editors and situations. This is one coding font that puts lettering first – which is ideal for Terminal applications.
12. Cascadia Code
Cascadia Code is another Windows-specific programming font designed for the Terminal. While there’s a Cascadia Mono version for text editors, we like this one the most:
This is a modern coding font that you’ll also find within Microsoft Visual Studio. The Mono version doesn’t include ligatures, but Code does. It comes with italics too, and the whole set reminds us of Monaco and Menlo. On the whole, it’s a worthwhile font that you’ll likely use by default if you code on Windows.
13. Victor Mono
Victor Mono isn’t a font you’ll see many programmers talk about, but it appeals to us in the same way that Monaco, Menlo, and DejaVu Sans Mono does:
This is a simple typeface that the designer created for their own needs. As such, you’ll find a unique italic variant, and a distinct lack of ligatures and glyphs. Victor Mono is all about the lettering, and it makes this list of best fonts for programming for that reason alone!
We love this modern take on a monospaced Terminal font. Most ratchet up the 8-bit aesthetic, but Monoid takes the good and marries it up to current sensibilities:
This means you get umpteen ligatures and glyphs, along with a scalable point size that looks good no matter your choice. We especially like how it looks with HTML (and the demo color scheme helps too):
Overall, if you want a replacement for your typical coding font choice, Monoid might be one to shake it out of the tree and take its place.
15. Source Code Pro
Source Code Pro is Adobe’s take on a sans-serif monospaced font for developers. It’s relatively modern, and lives in the same family as its Sans, Serif, and Han variants:
We always appreciate coding-specific typefaces, and this one is a winner. It redesigns characters such as “j” and “i,” while giving you dotted zeroes, adjusted heights for certain letters and characters, and much more. While you might not use it in the Terminal, for Graphic User Interface (GUI) editors, Source Code Pro can hold its own.
🙋 Programming fonts FAQ
The most commonly used monospace fonts in programming include Consolas, DejaVu Sans Mono, Menlo, Source Code Pro, and Fira Code. These fonts are popular among developers due to their legibility, distinct characters, and, in the case of Fira Code, ligature support.
Ultimately, the choice of a monospace font for programming often boils down to personal preference and the specific requirements of a project or development environment. Developers may explore these options and others to find the font that best suits their needs and enhances their coding experience.
Monospace fonts are best used for tasks that require alignment and precise visual representation of characters. They are commonly employed in programming, coding, and text editing environments where maintaining consistent spacing between characters is crucial for readability and maintaining the structure of the code or text. Monospace fonts ensure that each character occupies the same amount of horizontal space, making it easier to align code elements, format tables, create ASCII art, or work with fixed-width data.
The choice of the best font and font size for coding is subjective and can vary based on individual preferences. However, some commonly recommended fonts for coding include Consolas, Fira Code, and JetBrains Mono. As for the font size, it often falls within the range of 10 to 14 points, depending on personal preference and display resolution. It’s important to find a font and font size combination that offers readability and comfort during long coding sessions. Experimenting with different options is recommended to find what works best for you.
When it comes to cursive programming fonts, it’s important to note that cursive fonts are generally not recommended for coding due to their reduced legibility and potential confusion between characters. However, if you prefer a cursive aesthetic for coding purposes, one font that is occasionally used is “Script12 BT.” It provides a cursive style while still maintaining distinguishable characters.
Nevertheless, it’s important to consider that cursive fonts may not be the most practical choice for coding, as they can make it more challenging to read and understand the code accurately. It’s generally advisable to use monospace fonts for coding to ensure optimal readability and maintain the integrity of your code.
🏁 Final thoughts on choosing a best programming font
You’ll spend a while finding the right coding editor, and take just as much time to set it up according to your own workflow. However, take all of that combined time and look to spend it again on finding a programming font or fonts that will suit you best. The effort will pay off though, because choosing the right one can supercharge your workflow, and save your eyes from burnout.
Is your favorite choice on our list of best fonts for programming, and if not, what is it? Let us know in the comments section below!
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