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Fonts can be wonderfully creative and a small change in style and layout can provide an elegant looking web page or document. However, from time to time the function of the font is critical and what makes a font attractive and/or stylish might not make it particularly legible! I have specifically been looking for a font that can be used for printing out passwords.

Passwords tend to be a random string of characters which means that you cannot rely on the brain’s amazing ability to recognise shapes to facilitate reading. What do I mean by this?

If I type B00T instead of BOOT, you can still read the word with ease: your brain recognises the 2 round characters comfortably in the context of that particular combination of characters. However, if the string of characters is random, it is not as easy to tell the difference between a zero and the letter O: Y!Q1lLOkSs#

Some fonts make the distinction more clearly than others, but few manage to cover all the common characters that cause confusion:

  • 1 vs l (the digit one vs a lowercase L)
  • 0 vs O vs o (the digit zero vs an uppercase letter O vs a lowercase letter o)
  • q vs g (a lowercase letter Q vs a lowercase letter G)
  • 8 vs B (the digit eight vs an uppercase B)

I have tried a number of fonts without finding one to suit my purpose. Possibly the closest I have come to is Consolas — one of the key features I want is a zero with a diagonal line through it to differentiate it from a capital letter O — which Consolas provides.

One of the sub-headings in Chris Coyier’s Some Typography Links VIII caught my eye and introduced me to the Atkinson Hyperlegible font.

The example Word Document screenshot below includes Times New Roman as a ‘baseline” of sorts:

Comparison of fonts.

In my opinion, Atkinson Hyperlegible trumps Consolas on 2 counts:

  1. the digit 8 vs the uppercase B
  2. the lowercase q

For more information on, and to download and install the Atkinson Hyperlegible font, visit:

By foxbeefly

PHP / MySQL Developer. HTML, CSS and some JavaScript.

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