How to create a monospaced font

From Prototypo Grotesk to a Monospaced font.

As you may know, a monospaced font is a font whose letters and characters each occupy the same amount of horizontal space. You’ve likely seen monospaced fonts used in computer code. However, monospaced fonts were originally used on typewriters back in the day. Typewriters’ letter spacing and width were not adjustable, which is is why we often find the broadest letters (like the lowercase or capital “m”, the “w” etc.) to be narrower than the others. All the letters occupied the same space, which facilitated the calibration of typewriters at the time. On top of that the fixed-width allows for more character alignment. Vertical compositions are better nowadays, but back then it made administrative typing easier.

With a little bit of patience, you’ll be able to create your own monospaced font with Prototypo! Here is our step-by-step guide:

Keep in mind, a monospace is a typographic feature. So, all templates can do the trick!

  1. Choose your template! We’ve used the Grotesk here, which is a great choice for first-timers! (You won’t have to deal with tons of serifs:)
  2.  Alright, you chose your template. Now we must pay attention to the width of the characters, both lowercase and capital letters. Take the “M” as a good example. Now we check how much we can compress our “M” to see how it reacts.
  3. Once you’ve managed the “M test”, choose a value for the width. We chose a value of 630 fig.1. Currently, this value still needs to be manually adjusted for all glyphs, but we’re working on automating this process. To do this, simply adjust the spacing guideline (in green on the preview fig.2). In Prototypo, the spacing includes the lettering (in part) and the height, so the value of the fixed-width is your key element in this step. Adjust the marks to have the same fixed-width value for all characters.
  4. Once your spacing is done, adjust the characters to all have the same width. To do this, we usually put serifs on certain characters fig.3 (like the “i”, “r”, “l”, “j”, “I” & “1”). That way the narrowest characters have the same width as the others.
  5. During these adjustments, your spacing will move 3 out of 4 times. It’ll balance the width of the character, as well as the spacing to have a homogeneous set.
  6. Once the width of your character has been adjusted (with some serifs) and your spacing is also set to the same value in the center, you have successfully created your monospaced font! Congrats! Of course, the character design itself is up to you.

A check is required once your font has been exported. In InDesign, or other word processing software, you can do it by aligning your letters below each other.

Here is our finished Grotesk monofont in Prototypo!

By the way, you’ll soon be able to start your projects from a monospaced font as part as many other “presets”. Stay tuned for more info about this!

Need help to create your monospaced font? Ask us at [email protected], our team of designers is here for you!

The Team