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Consolas: Visual Studio's Hidden Gem

Out of the box, Visual Studio uses the Courier New font for displaying code. While that's an acceptable font for programming, it's hardly modern or easy on the eye. Did you know that Microsoft supply a much more readable alternative, for free?

Courier New has been around since 1955 - and that it's been around so long is a testament to its readability. However since then, display technology has radically changed - I'd be amazed if you weren't reading this article on some form of TFT panel, and if using Windows, with ClearType enabled.

Enter Consolas.  For the release of Office 2007, Microsoft commissioned a set of modern fonts, designed to be highly readable on screens that use ClearType: Calibri, Candara, Cambria, Consolas, Constantia and Corbel. Of that set, Consolas makes an excellent monospaced code font.

Here's Courier New:

Courier New Example

And here's Consolas:

Consolas Example

To my eyes, that's a big improvement. You'll notice as well that Consolas is slightly narrower, enabling you to fit a bit more text on the screen.

So where can you get it?

If you have Visual Studio, you can download it directly from Microsoft:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=22e69ae4-7e40-4807-8a86-b3d36fab68d3&displaylang=en

Or if not, it comes as part of the free Powerpoint viewer:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=048DC840-14E1-467D-8DCA-19D2A8FD7485&displaylang=en