Monday, July 31, 2006

Dark Courier

I'm a huge fan of this free TrueType font, provided by Hewlett Packard as an alternative to the spindly Courier New that comes with Windows. Manuscripts are still routinely done in Courier, and this version is much easier on the eyes.


At July 31, 2006 11:18 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i remember discovering that a decade ago, but haven't had it installed in years. thanks very much for the link. what size Dark Courier font would one use for professional ms format?

At July 31, 2006 11:30 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Manuscripts are done in 12-point Courier, which works out to precisely ten characters per horizontal inch -- or an average of 10 words per 6.5-inch-wide line.

At August 01, 2006 2:52 AM , Blogger E.Jim Shannon said...

I don't want to go through the hassle of HP registering but isn't Dark Courier the same as New Courier Bold?

At August 01, 2006 6:53 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

No, Jim, it's not the same. And you don't have to register to download Dark Courier. Just click on "Download."

At August 01, 2006 12:22 PM , Blogger Bonnie Jean said...

When I saw the title of this post, I thought it was going to be about a dramatic new project you were working on. DARK COURIER--Rob's walk on the more horrific side of SF. ;-)

But finding out about a better Courier font is also pretty exciting...
-Bonnie Jean

At August 04, 2006 3:22 AM , Blogger Drakkenfyre said...

Well, I just got bashed in a critique in the Robyn Herrington Memorial Short Story Contest for using that font and not Courier New.


At August 04, 2006 8:03 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

I don't know who the first readers were for the Robyn Herrington Memorial Short Story Contest this year, but whoever said that is wrong. (Based on past history, the first readers are unpublished or negligibly published, though.)

HP's Dark Courier (or BitStream's Courier BT, which is very similar) closely match the Courier typeface found on the original LaserJet, LaserJet II, and LaserJet III, LaserJet 4, and LaserJet 5. Hewlett Packard changed to a spindly Courier with the LaserJet 6, which was their first scalable-font printer, and the outcry from users still echoes off the hills (especially in the legal profession, which is a huge market for printers, and in many jurisdictions must file documents in Courier). Some moron thought it was important that Courier look elegant when scaled up to six-inch-high characters, and so he/she sacrificed the legibility of it at normal typesizes to make the spindly Courier New.

(The standard, but inelegant trick, is to boldface the entire manuscript when forced to use Courier New, because the bold version isn't bad for readability. But then, of course, you're left with no way to show bold -- which, fortunately, is rarely used in manuscripts.)

In some later LaserJets, HP put in a hardware menu choice to select Dark Courier, and added a PJL command to do it, too (but the Dark Courier has to be in firmware, as a resident font, for this to work):





HP's description: "Print using the standard scalable Courier font or the dark scalable Courier font. The dark Courier font resembles the HP LaserJet III family Courier bitmapped font."

Now that so many printers exclusively use downloaded fonts (instead of ones resident in the printer), the HP TrueType Dark Courier is the best choice.

(BitStream, who makes Courier BT, was the actual font foundry used by HP for its earlier LaserJets -- the "HP LaserJet III family Courier bitmapped font," HP refers to above); their TrueType version is lovely, too.)

Anyway, this kind of picayune attention to fine points of manuscript details is the hallmark of a shallow critique (and in this case is demonstrably wrong).

Likewise, writers'-workshop checklist items, such as, "Was protagonist likable?," are usually marks of a shallow critique.

At the Odyssey workshop earlier this summer, I always gave the final critique during my week there. And for one story, which I publicly identified as the best of the 16 I'd seen there, my critique began, "It would be easy to complain that this piece didn't do X, or violated supposed rule Y, but I read it through twice, and was captivated each time, and I enjoyed it thoroughly" -- and, in the end, that's all that matters.

At February 17, 2010 9:53 PM , Blogger lloydgarver said...

Where do I go to download it? Everywhere I go, says it's a free download of courier dark, but when I click it, it's offering me some other software. Then, once I download it, how do I get that pretty font image for it and put it with all the other pretty fonts in the font section of windows 7?


At February 17, 2010 10:09 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Lloyd, you can get the font here. I don't know anything about Windows 7, but it should install the same way any other font does in any operating system. (In Windows XP, you go to the Control Panel, select Fonts, then Add New Font.)


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