I am looking for an easy-to-read San Serif font that manages to make the normally similar looking characters (o, 0; 1,l,i) still clearly differniated to the eye.

This sill be used for very short text lengths (letters, word, or maybe a sentence) (For longer passages we may consider a Serif font)

Any suggestions?

Update: One of the other "gotchas" is capital I

Here is some good sample test with which to test:

I would like 1 little icicle
  • 1
    Look through some fonts designed specifically for writing code.
    – DA01
    May 21, 2015 at 16:12
  • Although this could be asked on another site, it is clearly about he UX of fonts rather than their visual appeal, so I consider it on topic.
    – JohnGB
    May 22, 2015 at 9:02

3 Answers 3


Consider the following fonts:

  • Droid Sans
  • PT Sans
  • Noto Sans
  • Ubuntu

Here's a preview: http://typecast.com/preview/google/Noto%20Sans/Droid%20Sans/PT%20Sans/Ubuntu

They are all available on Google Fonts.

  • Arvo and PT Sans seem to meet my criteria the best. May 21, 2015 at 23:03

Source Sans Pro

Source Sans Pro was Adobe's first open source font face and meets your criteria where the lowercase l curves while the uppercase I remains straight.

source sans pro

Does serif vs. sans-serif really make a difference?

This article titled, "Which Are More Legible: Serif or Sans Serif Typefaces?" rightfully concludes ...

It is of course possible that serifs or the lack of them have an effect on legibility, but it is very likely that they are so peripheral to the reading process that this effect is not even worth measuring.

There are also other factors such as x-height, counter size, letter spacing and stroke width which are more significant for legibility than the presence or absence of serifs.

Finally, we should accept that most reasonably designed typefaces in mainstream use will be equally legible, and that it makes much more sense to argue in favour of serif or sans serif typefaces on aesthetic grounds than on the question of legibility.

What's a "reasonably designed" font face?

Here are the top 5 fonts linked to on Google Fonts. Open Sans is number 1 and I really like how well it utilizes letter spacing to stroke width.

top 5 fonts

  • GREAT answer, complete with clever example. Thanks! May 21, 2015 at 22:06
  • Argg... bummer, capital I looks like a one or a lower case l in Source Sans Pro. May 21, 2015 at 22:09
  • 1
    The lowercase el is actually a little taller and curves at the bottom while the uppercase i is a perfectly straight line. Droid Sans looks good on mobile devices and has serif on the uppercase i -- google.com/fonts/specimen/Droid+Sans
    – DaveAlger
    May 22, 2015 at 2:51

There is also a CSS enhancement that tweaks fonts that don't distinguish zero from O very effectively:


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