Typeface Review


Reviewed by Michael Surtees on March 19, 2015

I have to admit that I’m not opening Sublime on a daily basis for work. But when I first read about Input as a type system designed for code, I was intrigued. I was interested in learning more about the choices made and how those decisions translated to a better experience for the user over time.

First things first: Input is the very definition of options. The face is cut in many ways. There’s Input Mono, Input Sans, and Input Serif. For each of those versions, the weight goes from thin to black, with italic versions of each. So that’s seven different default letterform options with matching italics × four widths (Normal, Narrow, Condensed, and Compressed) × three variants (Mono, Sans, and Serif), for a total of 168 styles. The system is designed for diverse developers with nuanced preferences.

With lots of options come lots of decisions — how is someone supposed to make an informed decision without spending eight hours trying to decide what will work for them? That’s where the effective preview system on Input’s microsite comes in. By selecting different font styles, widths, weights, sizes, and line heights, users don’t have to experiment with hundreds of fonts in their own environment. They can move a toggle around to see what each variation of the fonts will look like in a number of different color backgrounds designed to simulate a code editor.

The preview also generates sample code for those who use Python, PHP, HTML, CSS, Javascript, C++, TrueType hints, UFO glif data, or LaTeX. This is where Input really shows its strengths. David Jonathan Ross suggests that a programming font need not be monospaced, and he offers multiple opportunities to test that theory with a proportion­ally spaced Input. In the end, he leaves it to the user to decide whether to go mono or proportional — along with the other lettershape preferences.

When it comes to writing and reading code, the user’s preference is paramount and Input offers plenty of ways to hit their sweet spot.

Michael Surtees is a product design director and practitioner of user experience design (UXD) based in NYC. Currently he is the Head of Design at Dataminr designing early warning and detection systems for clients in News, Finance and the Public Sector.


  1. zelnox says:

    Wooooo! I’ve been using Input Mono Narrow Light at 12 points for programming for almost a year in Vim.

  2. Alex says:

    I’m in love with this font. Any recommendations for a similar typeface suitable for longer text forms in print?

  3. Just wanted to let you know that I am working on a more text-friendly version of Input (predictably called Output), which can be seen in use on http://www.typemedia2015.com and http://census.typographica.org. Feel free to get in touch with me about using it!

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