WANTED - Sans Unicode font with differentiated lower-case L, upper case i, digit 1 and vertical bar

Snowfield's picture

Subject : WANTED - unicode sans font with differentiated Il1| & O0

I've been trying to find a simple sans serif font for a specialist mathematical programming language that uses special symbols (available in unicode fonts). Some unicode fonts have inconsistent symbols sizes eg Tahoma and Verdana, DejaVu sans has advanced logic symbols (the round ones) that are consistent in size but larger than all the other symbols.

These fonts render some or all of vertical bar, capital I small L and digit 1 identically. This is unacceptable in a programming language where a single wrong character can cause a bug that is very difficult to trace (the program will look right). Capital O and zero also need to be obviously different.

There are fonts that deliberately differentiate between (some) these characters, eg MS Reference Sans Serif has different characters for lower case L, digit 1 and capital i, but unfortunately the lower case L is just a vertical line and easily mistaken for the vertical line character which is used in programming language.

If anyone knows of an ideal unicode sans font, please let me know.

Alternatively, a font designer might want to deliberately create a font that is perfect? Perhaps by combining two open source fonts and/or adapting an OpenSource font such as DejaVu Sans Unicode ? If anyone wants to create such a font, here are more details. For differentiation, the vertical bar should be the only character in the font that is represented as a pure vertical line. Lower case L should have a small bend to the right at the bottom of the stalk. Upper case i should have cross bars at top and bottom. Digit one should have a small angled bar at the top of the stalk on the left hand side. The zero character should be narrower than the letter O, but not have a dot or line though it (to avoid it resembling other symbols). The advanced logic symbols ●○◐◍◉◖◗ should be of similar size to each other and not be larger than other symbols in the font (but should be noticeably larger than the bullet and empty bullet symbols). The arrows ↑↓→←↕↔↖↙↘↗ should be of similar weight. The Lucida range of symbols is almost ideal already, and they look nice, but are not open source. All the other unicode fonts I have seen have arrows of different weights (looks bad) or logic circles that are different sizes (or all large and out of scale to all the other symbols in the font).

For any questions or answers feel free to contact me Connor - SpecialistProgLang @ TackleAnything.co.uk

Thanks for your help.

hrant's picture

Have you looked at Inconsolata?

BTW might you have a budget for the customization you describe? Assuming you want it done to decent standards. If so there are a number of people here who could do it for you, including yours truly:
hpapazian at gmail dot com


Snowfield's picture

A budget, what's one of those? Sorry, pushing the limits of the computability of maths is not a commercial endeavour.

hrant's picture

Check this out:
And a couple of years ago I was paid good money to develop a font for an invented writing system that probably nobody but the author will ever use.

People do spend money on more than things that make money! It's called culture. Heck sometimes they even spend money on junk they don't even need, like iPads.

Anyway, you're likely to find somebody to do it for you for free, but your chances of getting results of even just decent quality are probably around 50%.


altsan's picture

Are you looking for a monospaced or proportional font?

A few years ago I did this bitmap font (text samples) which I use as my primary programming/editor font. It's loosely based on one of IBM's old OS/2 system fonts for use in command prompt/terminal windows. It's in an OS/2 specific bitmap format, and not Unicode, so it doesn't help you very much, but is the general design something like what you're looking for?

I've occasionally wondered if I should find a way of converting it into BDF or something so non-OS/2 users can use it...

altsan's picture

By the way, have you looked at Adobe Source Code Pro?

piccic's picture

This is in the wrong section.

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