This page describes fonts I tested for usability in a terminal emulator. The ratings may be highly subjective and describe my way to find good fonts. This site is inspired by the Nice fonts for X terminals site. It does not try to make things better, just again to find my personal preferences.

How I tested

I'm using a small script named urxvt-font-change, which is part of the nsbin git repository. This script allows me to dynamically change the font in the running terminal. Besides searching around the net for font names, I've used two local sources:

  • xlsfonts (core X font subsystem)
  • fc-list (xft)

So I load a new font, issue an ls in my home directory (which is pretty much mixed up) and decide whether I can read the content easily or not and whether it made some kind of special impression.

Reloading or adding core fonts can be via

xset fp+ /usr/share/fonts/local/
xset fp rehash


There are a lot of different objectives for choosing a font that suits you. For me, the following objectives are interesting: Is the font usable for ...

  • small screens
  • presentations
  • my eyes

The last point is probably mostly subjective, a font must "look good" to me.

Font list

And here's the actual font table:

Font name Size Recommended Remarks
5x7 tiny no Unreadable
nexus tiny no Digiclock style font, but hard to read
shine tiny no Similar to nexus, bit better
outcast tiny no Similar to shine, bit better
edges tiny no Similar to nexus, more edges
suxus tiny no Unreadable
tixus tiny yes Very well readable for such a small font
smallcaps small no filenames as caps on unix?
smooth small undecided Good overall, but "M" looks weired and font feels stretched
artsie small yes Well readable
fixed small yes Well readable
--terminus-----12------- tiny-small yes Well readable
smoothansi small undecided Good overall, but "M" looks weired and font feels stretched
xft:DejaVu Sans Mono:pixelsize=10 small yes Well readable
kates small-medium no Very fancy (impressive?), but partly hard to read
bigcaps small-medium no Hurts my eyes
xft:Liberation Mono:style=Regular small-medium yes Well readable
xft:Source Code Pro small-medium yes Well readable, i,l,1 well distinguishable
a14 medium yes Well readable
xft:Inconsolata:style=Medium medium yes Well readable
--terminus-----14------- medium yes Well readable
lucidasans-10 medium no Way too much whitespace
xft:Droid Sans:style=Regular medium no Too much whitespace, not instantly good readable
MonteCarlo:style=Sans Bold medium no Not Bold, nor incredible easy to read
lucidasanstypewriter-10 medium yes Very well readable
10x20 medium no Mostly good readable, looks a bit disarranged
xft:Bitstream Vera Sans Mono:style=Bold medium yes Very well readable
xft:Bitstream Vera Sans Mono:style=Roman medium yes Very well readable
variable medium-large no Unreadable
12x24 large undecided Well readable, strange style, good size
xft:Bitstream Vera Serif:style=Roman large Too much whitespace
xft:DejaVu Sans,DejaVu Sans Condensed:style=Condensed Bold,Bold large Too much whitespace
--terminus-----32------- large yes
lucidasanstypewriter-24 extra large yes Even blind can read it

See also