February 14, 2013

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):

First Impressions

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.8.0.3.1/8.0.3 users, to save your template file in the Stationery folder, you MUST follow the specific instructions in the adding new script templates for 8.0.3.1/8.0.3 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.

Link: Courier Prime - free download from Quote-Unquote Apps

[via johnaugust.com]

Your Comment

40 Comments

typical courier mk2 has no feature improvements over mk1 and costs the same price! I'm going to wait to NAB and see what else is announced.

February 14, 2013 at 9:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Chris Lambert

I think we need to see how it performs at night against a brick wall and compare it to an alexa

February 14, 2013 at 2:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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but is it 8 or 10bit?! Anything too avoid writing the screenplay I should be doing!

February 14, 2013 at 3:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Chris Lambert

haha this is very clever, funny and poignant all at the same time

February 16, 2013 at 4:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dale Snail

Do you need to see a subway short?

February 18, 2013 at 12:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Alan Dague-Greene

Mistral ?!!?

No.

February 14, 2013 at 10:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Fresno Bob

Typeface, agreed is important, although this face is tired, really tired. Might be fine for printed materials, but never for screen. Sans are more readable for screen and degrade nicely < 7points. The same can't be said with serif. Courier isn't sexy and falls into the same category of any face named after a city or Tahoma which shows lack of aesthetics.

February 14, 2013 at 10:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dirk

I've switched my screenplay to Courier Prime and as a (former) graphic designer I must say I like the new better than the old. I wasn't sure I would even notice but it's definitely a stronger font, both on screen and on the page -- thanks John and co. and the price can't be beat!

February 14, 2013 at 11:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Stronger is the exact word I'd use to describe it. The words just seem "fuller". It crashed my Movie Magic once and then it started showing up as Arial, but that could just be a Movie Magic on windows kinda thing.

February 16, 2013 at 9:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Finally! ;)

February 14, 2013 at 12:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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chris d

Anyway to get this into Celtx?

February 14, 2013 at 1:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Hampus

Not yet, but I've been bombarding their twitter account so hopefully they add the ability to change fonts. I'm very anxious to start using this new font! Hit them up on twitter. Hopefully, if enough people do, they'll act fast.

February 14, 2013 at 3:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ah, writers. Does look nice - unsure if I can update my iPad FD though.

February 14, 2013 at 3:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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marklondon

Thought I would hate this new edition, but for some reason, I don't. Thanks for the download link.

February 14, 2013 at 3:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I use celtx. I just dont have money to buy FD.

Does it even really make the biggest of a difference. I personally know a few writers in Hollywood that just use Microsoft Word. That threw me off when I heard that.

February 14, 2013 at 3:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Andrew

This is a for real story? I was certain I was reading The Onion.

February 14, 2013 at 5:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Casey

Mistral!?!?!
I hope you're joking...

February 14, 2013 at 5:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Daniel Roca

:)

February 14, 2013 at 6:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Christopher Boone
Writer
Writer/Director

LOL it would be awesome to wake up on april's fool day and see NFS in mistral.

February 14, 2013 at 8:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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maghoxfr

I've been using Courier Prime since August released it and it makes reading over scripts a significantly more pleasant experience.

Ideally, we'd be forsaking Courier completely and replacing it with something sleek and sexy, but if we have to use Courier, use the good Courier. Use Courier Prime.

February 14, 2013 at 6:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

15
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Is this available for Adobe Story?

February 14, 2013 at 7:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gareth

While its a much better font than the original standard Courier in FD or others, its really not an improvement at all over the Courier Screenplay font you can download from www.fadeinpro.com

Also while we are on aesthetics, Fadein Pro in my opinion has to be one of the nicest looking / reading screenwriting programs available. To me it just renders the font beautifully, much better than Final Draft even with the new fonts. Celtx doesnt even compare in this field - it looks like a dogs breakfast.

February 14, 2013 at 8:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Peter

Actually on the subject of screenwriting programs...is it just me do all of them seem to fall down in some areas and excel in others. For instance writing as a whole, not just the screenplay, but from inception, ideas, outlining, plotting etc.

One of the things i originally liked about Celtx was its project structure. You had one overall project and you could fill that with multiple text or screenplay documents among other things. Sadly as mentioned it just looks like crap when you go to write. scrivener is all about big projects combining multiple documents including scripts but to me it is TOO unwieldy and again lacking in the screenwriting area.

Adobe story I see now has a project structure and its not bad as a writing app but it lacks key features such as index cards. Fade in pro sadly has no project structure and a very awkward index card implamentation but writes brilliantly and is constantly being updated and improved.

Lastly Movie Draft (formerly Scene Writer) has a great feature of being able to hide scenes and solo scenes so you are just focused on the ONE scene but sadly fails in so many other areas and is hopelessly lagging in terms of updates despite the creators persistence in claiming it is being updated...which I guess it is...but only every year or so.

My money is kind of on Fade In Pro, if that guy can implement things like project structure, fix the index card handling and throw in that awesome feature of hiding/soloing scenes...it would be the undisputed KING of script writing apps.

February 14, 2013 at 9:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Peter

I heard about this font some time ago, but haven't installed it yet. I noticed, much like what is mentioned in this article, that the thickness and readability of the letters is much improved over Courier and as I move into development with projects, that will help capture the readers of the scripts I'll eventually put out, plus make collaboration more pleasing.

February 15, 2013 at 9:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DIYFilmSchool.net

Hmmm.... for some reason my Windows Final Draft 8 won't change the font when I tell it to. Anyone else having similar problems?

February 15, 2013 at 10:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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von

Whoops. Nevermind. I just had to reboot Final Draft.

February 15, 2013 at 10:50AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

14
You voted '+1'.
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von

I think fonts can be sexy

February 16, 2013 at 4:30AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dale Snail

Hi Christopher, thanks for writing this up. I'll take a stab at explaining why the crossbar on the "f" and "t" are lower than the serifs running along the x-height.

In any font, monospaced or otherwise, almost every letter employs little tricks to make it feel more right in the context of a word, even though they might look wrong up close. Courier has a pretty tall x-height, so there isn't much space in the upper half of the lowercase. If the crossbars were in line with the x-height, the top of the "f" would be really crowded, and the vertical stroke of the "t" would have to go up too far to sort of poke out from the crossbar and actually look like a "t".

So the crossbars are lower to make those letters more vertically balanced. I believe it's this way in other Couriers, but I exaggerated it in Courier Prime, because it just felt right. Hope that helps!

Thanks,
Alan

February 18, 2013 at 12:59AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Alan Dague-Greene

Final Draft refuses to show it as an option in it's fonts menu.

I've uninstalled and re-installed a number of times (to both the "user" folder and "computer" folder in Font book) , as well as restart a few times - but still no success in OS 10.8 2.

Anyone have any suggestions? I've very keen to try this new fandangled font!

February 20, 2013 at 11:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Sean

Don't use the "Fonts" menu, go to "Elements" first and then click on the Fonts button. Hope that helps!

February 20, 2013 at 11:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Thanks Ryan. But I encounter the same problem. When I click on "Set Font" and then the pull down font menu in font attributes, Courier Prime still doesn't show up. It's very strange...

February 20, 2013 at 11:50AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Sean

Strange! What version of FD? All I had to do was restart FD once it was showing up in Font Book.

February 20, 2013 at 12:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

8.0.3.1 Ya, it's there in black and white in both my my font folder as well as font book, but can't seem to find it in Final Draft - or word. It's available in Photoshop and After Effects though.

February 20, 2013 at 12:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Sean

Have you quit and restarted Final Draft since installing the font like Ryan mentioned?

February 20, 2013 at 12:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Christopher Boone
Writer
Writer/Director

You need to be sure you put it in the COMPUTER section of Font Apps, not the USER section.

If it's in the User section, right-click on the Courier Prime folder in the user list in Font Apps, choose remove the font, and send to Trash.

Reinstall in the Computer section, then restart your program.

November 29, 2013 at 2:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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MRW

A number of times - as well as restarting the MacBook Pro 2 or 3 times.

February 20, 2013 at 12:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Sean

Very strange. I wish I had a better answer. I know you said you've uninstalled and re-installed the font multiple times. Have you tried deleting the font and re-downloading the font package again from Quote-Unquote? If that doesn't work, you may want to send a tweet to @qapps or @johnaugust mentioning your specific problem.

February 20, 2013 at 6:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Christopher Boone
Writer
Writer/Director

Hi Christopher,

Yes, I am truly stumped. I deleted, reinstalled, re-downloaded and even disabled all the other courier fonts, just to see if there might have been some sort of conflict. But still no success. I'll definitely tweet them to see what they might suggest.

Thank you both for your suggestions. Truly appreciated.

February 21, 2013 at 10:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Sean

I'm having the same issues. Multiple restarts, re-installs, etc.

May 17, 2013 at 5:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Matt

The updated Courier Prime does remove the "blobbiness" and reads better on screen but the T vertical stroke also makes me crazy. I noticed it within seconds of reformatting. Those of us with font prowess can adjust it but...

The other thing that is extremely maddening is how Final Draft won't apply the font change to the page numbers. This is a deal breaker for any kind of font exchanging to me. Final Draft Guys, FIX THIS. I even went into the FDX format with a code editor to catch all of the XML lines that didn't translate the font change but the page numbers must be set through the application itself because this did not succeed.

All this amazing technology and human error still manages to hold it back...

May 15, 2018 at 11:01AM

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Christoph Schultz
Writer-Director
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