Heavy-Duty Onscreen Usage: Suggestions?

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Anna Waldon's picture
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Joined: 1 Feb 2008 - 1:57pm
Heavy-Duty Onscreen Usage: Suggestions?
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My friend is a professional writer who works with large amounts of text every day. Currently, she writes using monospaced Courier because, she says, it is clear on her screen and lacks flavour that would be distractive. She does not use any formatting either. She wants to focus on the content of her writing at the expense of everything else.

My question is - do you think there are better alternatives around for this kind of usage?

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am
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Is she using Mac or Windows?

Anna Waldon's picture
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Joined: 1 Feb 2008 - 1:57pm
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She is on a Mac. But I am also interested for my sake (and I use Macs, PCs and UNIX machines interchangeably) as well as in general.

She also tried American Typewriter but did not like it because it was too fancy. This association with typewriter-like fonts seems alive and well in many areas. For example, screenplays also typically use Courier. I am not sure the association of bare-bones look with the typewriting past is a valid one but given the existing perceptions it seems to work. Still, a better alternative would be nice. Or perhaps, some reasons as to why Courier is indeed a good choice. One I can think of is that being ubiquitous and monospace it gives a fair estimate as for the length of a script. For script readers who have to go through piles of submissions it might be important.

I tried to think of general criteria for choice but do not have enough experience. It seems to me that apart from no-frills appearance the writer’s font should be easy to read in short or very long lines and in largish or very small sizes. It should print well too. I guess it should also be compact to maximize the screen-space utilisation? Not sure what else……

Scott Finkelstein's picture
Joined: 1 Feb 2008 - 3:16pm
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Scripts like Courier because it is close to one minute's worth of info per line.

Blank's picture
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Joined: 25 Sep 2006 - 2:15pm
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I’ve gotten used to doing all my writing in Verdana at 14-point to save my eyes, and I just change it when I print.

Blank's picture
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Joined: 25 Sep 2006 - 2:15pm
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I’ve gotten used to doing all my writing in Verdana at 14-point to save my eyes, and I just change it when I print.

Eluard's picture
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Joined: 16 Jan 2008 - 8:54pm
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My text editor uses Helvetica 12. Another uses Myriad as default. They are both pretty serviceable. Certainly easy to read.

Doesn't she find Courier a bit thin, a little hard on the eyes?

Stef Pause's picture
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Joined: 15 Jun 2007 - 5:04am
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There are better options, but of course that's subjective. I'd say what she really needs is a good programmers' font. See here:
http://blog.hamstu.com/2008/02/03/the-typography-of-code/

and here:
http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000969.html

My personal choice for coding is Deja Vu Mono, a modified version of Bitstream Vera Sans with an extensive amount of additional characters. It's free and available here:
http://dejavu.sourceforge.net/wiki/

Anna Waldon's picture
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Joined: 1 Feb 2008 - 1:57pm
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Thanks for the suggestions.

Scott Thatcher's picture
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Joined: 30 Jan 2006 - 11:56am
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I've been very happy with Bitstream Vera Mono.

You mentioned you use Unix systems, so I'll mention that I've found the "Courier 10 Pitch" included in many Linux distributions to be much easier on my eyes than the Courier of Windows. I've always found Courier in Windows to be much too thin for comfortable reading.

ST