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 '13 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 '13 at 18:19
  • 1
    The names for Monospace vs Proportional are 'Monospace' and 'Proportional' – DA01 Jun 13 '13 at 16:41
  • 2
    The specification for OpenType uses a flag called "proportion", which maps to "a monospace / proportional flag". – Kit Grose Jun 17 '13 at 0:24
  • @KitGrose: thanks Kit, this is the actual answer I was looking for! – Pasha Jun 17 '13 at 17:39

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.

| improve this answer | |
  • The common terms are, indeed, monospace and proportional. – DA01 Jun 13 '13 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.

| improve this answer | |
  • 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 '13 at 16:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.