Understanding Proportional and Non-Proportional Fonts

The world of fonts is one of the most important, but least understood, elements of web design, but it is important for any web site owner or business person to understand what fonts are and how they work. Choosing the right fonts can greatly enhance the usability and function of virtually any web site. The right color, and the right font size, can have a big impact on success of failure of your web site.

Proportional Fonts

It is important for all web site designers to understand the difference between proportional and non-proportional fonts when creating and redesigning the pages of their sites. A proportional typeface will display the glyphs using a variety of widths, while a non-proportional font will use glyphs of fixed widths to create a fixed width typeface.

In general, users tend to prefer proportional fonts easier to read and better looking, and most professional materials and published materials are printed using these proportional fonts. In addition, word processors and web browsers typically will use proportional instead of non-proportional fonts. Even, so many of the most common proportional fonts will include a number of fixed width figures that will be used to ensure that columns of text and numbers will remain aligned.

Non-proportional fonts

For some purposes, however, non-proportional fonts perform better. For instance, many non-electronic typewriters and text computer displays will use non-proportional fonts. For instance, many text based computer applications, such as terminal emulators, will use monospace non-proportional fonts to provide an easier look and feel. In addition, many computer programmers will use these monospace fonts to edit computer source code. For instance, ASCII requires the use of a non-proportional font to be viewed properly.