The New Screenplay Standard Font is Here: Courier Prime from Quote-Unquote Apps (And It's Free)
Fonts are sexy. Okay, maybe not, but they are a major element of print and web design. Heck, you're looking at one right now. Fonts impact how we perceive information. I bet Koo is pouring over hundreds of fonts at this very moment trying to pick the right ones for the website redesign (I vote for Mistral). For screenwriters, however, we're essentially stuck with one and only one font: Courier. More specifically, for those of us using Final Draft, we're stuck with Courier Final Draft. Courier is boring. It's bland. It's standard. Until recently, there was nothing you or I could do about it. Thanks to John August, Alan Dague-Greene and Ryan Nelson of Quote-Unquote Apps, however, now we have Courier Prime, a better Courier font designed specifically for screenplays. Even better, it's free.
Right now, you may be thinking, "So what?" Fine. Be that way. But if you write screenplays, I encourage you to download Courier Prime (again, for free) and spend some time writing with it. Here's what the regular Courier Prime and its italic version look like (thanks to johnaugust.com):
Courier Prime happened to come out the very day I started writing the first draft of my current screenplay, so I've been using it consistently now for two weeks in Final Draft 8. At first, I appreciated almost everything about it. On my five-year-old MacBook Pro, I immediately noticed a positive difference in weight and clarity to the words on the screen. The best way to describe it would be to say that the words looked real. Not pixellated. Not soft around some edges. I felt like I was literally typing on my computer, leaving a physical impact on my screen.
Observant readers will notice I said I appreciated almost everything about Courier Prime upon first glance. One thing--one tiny thing--stuck out for me on my first page of writing in Courier Prime: the lowercase letter 't'. The cross of the 't' seemed slightly too low, making the letter look diminutive compared with the surrounding lowercase font. I should say right now I know squat about how fonts are designed. I certainly appreciate good fonts, but my knowledge about fonts quickly ends after "serif" and "sans-serif". Typographers out there can surely explain why the cross of the lowercase 't' (and the lowercase 'f') in Courier Prime should be lower than the serifs of the surrounding lowercase letters. John August et al., if you're reading this post, feel free to enlighten us in the Comments below.
Using the Font Daily
All of that said, after using Courier Prime for more than two weeks, I can say I really love this new font. When I first downloaded it, even with my initial positive first impression, I didn't think it would be that big of a deal. I was wrong. After spending two weeks writing in Courier Prime, just looking at my previous scripts in Courier Final Draft on the screen is a little painful. Also, I don't even notice what bothered me initially about the lowercase 't'. Now, the 't' looks right in context (and the less frequently typed 'f'). Courier Prime looks great on the printed page, too.
Over the years, Final Draft has improved its Courier Final Draft font, but it has never looked quite right on the screen. Compared to earlier versions of Final Draft, the current Courier Final Draft and how it is displayed on-screen in v.8 is so much better, but objectively speaking, it isn't great. Considering how much we stare at our screenplays on our computers, we deserve a better font.
Create a New Stationery Template
If you download Courier Prime and use Final Draft, I encourage you to create a new stationery template with Courier Prime as your default. How to create a new stationery in Final Draft varies based on the version you currently use and whether have a Mac or a PC. Check out Final Draft's support articles on setting a new default font and adding new script templates to find the right steps for your particular setup. For Mac Final Draft v.220.127.116.11/8.0.3 users, to save your template file in the Stationery folder, you MUST follow the specific instructions in the adding new script templates for 18.104.22.168/8.0.3 to even find the Stationery folder on your Mac. These instructions are different from the instructions on how to save a new script template included in the setting a new default font article, so please take note.
A Few Caveats from Quote-Unquote Apps
First, Courier Prime currently isn't available to use with Celtx (I guess you can't change or set fonts in Celtx - I don't know, I don't use it). Second, if you use Final Draft for Windows, Quote-Unquote Apps warns your page breaks might change if you switch between Courier Final Draft and Courier Prime because Final Draft for Windows uses a slightly different version of Courier Final Draft with different line height. Also, writing teams who send files back and forth between Final Draft for Mac and Windows may also see page break differences using Courier Prime. The issue is with Final Draft, not the font, so Quote-Unquote Apps can't make an adjustment to its font to solve the problem.
PDFs from Final Draft, however, work well with Courier Prime. On a recent ScriptNotes podcast, John August recommended that Final Draft users use the Print command, then Save as PDF to preserve the font's appearance when others open the PDF. In other words, don't use Final Draft's built-in Save as PDF feature from its File menu.
Finally, if you're looking for the history of Courier and how it became the standard font for screenplays, check out John August's blog post announcing Courier Prime.
Are you using Courier Prime for your current screenplay? Have you noticed distinct qualities of Courier Prime and are they an improvement over previous Courier fonts? Share your thoughts in the Comments.