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Craft and creativity

Courier Prime: The perfect typeface for screenplays

That previous post reminded me of another font that improves on a flawed classic: Courier Prime. This one is released under the SIL Open Font License (OFL) license.

Courier Prime

Screenwriter and app developer John August commissioned type designer Alan Dague-Greene to create Courier Prime.

I wanted a font that could be substituted letter-for-letter with Courier Final Draft, but look better, both on-screen and printed. I wanted a bolder bold and real italics, not just slanted glyphs.

The Courier typeface was designed in 1955 by Howard “Bud” Kettler for IBM. It’s classified as a monospaced slab serif, with each character taking up the same space and constructed with even stroke widths. IBM deliberately chose not to seek any copyright, trademark, or design patent protection on Courier, which is why it’s royalty free. It was the standard typeface on IBM’s best-selling Selectric II typewriter, and soon became the default typeface in Hollywood.

By standardizing around one typeface set at a specific size, we can take advantage of some rules-of-thumb.

For example, one page of screenplay (roughly, sometimes) equals one minute of screen time. More importantly, producers can be assured that a 119-page draft really is shorter than a 140-page draft. Unlike college freshmen, screenwriters can’t fiddle with the font to change the page count.

The biggest problem with Courier is that it often reveals its low-res heritage. Designed for an era of steel hitting ribbon, Courier can look blobby, particularly at higher resolutions.

But it doesn’t have to.

John August: Introducing Courier Prime

Courier Prime alphabets

Standard

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