Companion monospace

What might you do when you find yourself in need of a companion monospace to a sans-serif you’ve already designed, either for a client who suddenly has the need, or your own internal use?

Of course, you can help them source a monospace typeface that already exists, but chances are—particularly if it’s for your own foundry use, or to sit alongside a custom typeface for a client—you’d prefer something that matches. It should have the same x-height, related stroke widths and contrast.

The answer is probably to push back against the notion that this needs to be a project at all. If it’s a client request, it’s really a request for a new project. If it’s for your own foundry use, perhaps you do want to make the monospace companion to the family you use for your own visual identity—but that can happen in due course instead of today.

If we decided this is an immediate problem worth addressing however, here are the tactics I’d consider.

For Glyphs users, RMX Monospacer, which is best at helping to make tabular numbers, is a great shortcut to starting a monospace from your existing typeface.

Is there an opportunity for an Amstelvar- or Roboto Flex-like Variable Font “Companion Mono” font here? By adjusting a few of the parameters I wrote about in the Twelve Days of Ax-mas series, you might be able to adjust the x-height, stroke width, and contrast, and find yourself with a much improved companion. This is a huge project unto itself, but should someone tackle it, I could see it working in this station eventually.

Or, you could try and do the same thing using an existing open source, open license font: adjust the line height metrics, export a weight that closely matches the paired typeface.

Modifying an existing open source font, even for type designer, isn’t always as easy as it’s made to sound, though. I’ll share what I mean in the next message.

Until next time,