If one wants to classify all fonts as either monospace (fixed-width) or proportional (variable-width), then how should this property of a font be called?

  • Is "width" not appropriate?
    – Brendon
    Jun 12, 2013 at 18:03
  • @Brendon: Generally, "width" is a horizontal measurement of something. A font has a stable height, also called the size of the font, but widths of individual characters vary in proportional fonts -- so "width" of a font is a misnomer. "Widthness" may be appropriate, but that doesn't sound like a real word...
    – Pasha
    Jun 12, 2013 at 18:19
  • 1
    The names for Monospace vs Proportional are 'Monospace' and 'Proportional'
    – DA01
    Jun 13, 2013 at 16:41
  • 2
    The specification for OpenType uses a flag called "proportion", which maps to "a monospace / proportional flag".
    – Kit Grose
    Jun 17, 2013 at 0:24
  • @KitGrose: thanks Kit, this is the actual answer I was looking for!
    – Pasha
    Jun 17, 2013 at 17:39

2 Answers 2


Everything that I've ever seen which deals with fonts assumes that they are proportional width fonts unless they are called "monospace" fonts, and without resorting to technical terms that only font creators are likely to know, there isn't a common term for that property.

So for the sake of clarity I would call them "monospace" and "non-monospace" fonts in the same spirit of "serif" and "sans-serif" where "sans-serif" literally means "without serif".

If you need to list the property in a table or something similar, I would call the property "monospace" and label it as true/false, yes/no, or ticked/unticked whichever best matches the style of the rest of the table.

  • The common terms are, indeed, monospace and proportional.
    – DA01
    Jun 13, 2013 at 16:43

EDITED - Correcting myself, I had suggested that property could be letter-spacing or Kerning but its wrong. Letter-Spacing and Kerning represent spacing between font-characters and not width of characters which is being asked here.

  • 1
    -1 Letterspacing is the space BETWEEN letters. Monospace and Proportional refers to the widths of each glyph (or, more accurately, the bounding box of each individual glyph)
    – DA01
    Jun 13, 2013 at 16:42

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