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Is there any reason I should not use monospaced typefaces for text in articles? Do they negatively affect the reader's ability to easily read long-form text?

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Monospaced fonts were never really designed with readability as their primary goal; they're mostly useful for typesetting content where whitespace is important (like code) and as a solution for various technical limitations (e.g. in typewriters); is there a reason you'd want to use a monospaced font for normal body copy? – Kit Grose Dec 5 '13 at 1:48
up vote 20 down vote accepted

Monospaced typefaces do reduce legibility, albeit by a margin.

In Universal Principles of Design, the entry on legibility states:

Proportionally spaced typefaces are preferred over monospaced.

One famous research on this is Beldie I. P., Pastoor S. & Schwarz E, 1983, “Fixed versus variable letter width for televised text”, Human Factors, 25, pp.273-277, where part of the results include:

The reading time (Task 1) with the variable-matrix character design was 69.1 s on the average, and the mean reading time with the fixed-matrix character set was 73.3 s, t (8) = 2.76, p < 0.02. The difference is 4.2 s or 6.1% (related to fixed-matrix characters).

It has to be said that latter research has shown more marginal differences, and that in some cases (dyslexia or programming code, for example) monospaced typefaces increase readability.

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cool that you have a research! :-) I only found a sentence on german wikipedia, where they said that it's less legible, but it had no source so I didn't want to answer... – Lovis Dec 5 '13 at 12:46
Thank you, this is what I was looking for! – Ju-v Dec 5 '13 at 13:23
I'd like to see the later research on dyslexia and such that you mentioned at the end. – Thunderforge Dec 11 '13 at 21:58

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