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    I am desperate for someone to tell me what makes a font “cute”. This isn’t a joke, I’m not making fun, I’m being entirely sincere. I have been baffled by emotional reactions to fonts for a long time and I really want to understand.

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      I’m not a typesetting expert by any means, but it’s the feeling evoked by looking at the font.

      If a font has sharp, jagged edges, it looks industrial like some sort of equipment.

      A font with thin strokes and wide serifs has a formal feeling to it like old style text in an old newspaper.

      A cute font is generally going to be rounded, without serif, and with uniform thickness across each stroke with some optional flourishing. These fonts remind the viewer of a small cute animal with it’s rounded edges.

      Aside from the lettering looking like some sort of small animal, the lettering is a much cleaner version of the type you would expect a child to make while writing with a marker, crayon, simple paintbrush or some other wide tipped implement and may remind the viewer of their childhood.

      These are the things I see. Maybe someone else can offer some more enlightenment.

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        I don’t know that I would have put anything this way, before reading your comment, and “cuteness” isn’t really a thing I generally experience from fonts (unless we’re talking about emoji), but I want to voice my support for letters that look like some sort of small animal.

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        1. Babies are the baseline standard for adorability. They have big round eyes. They have big heads relative to their bodies. Adorable babies are also a bit chubby with gentle curves that have a large radius of curvature.
        2. To make a font more adorable, you need visual cues which trigger the adorability reflex. If you don’t have that reflex, I can still describe some analytical measures that work (okay, they work for me). Give it a large x-height relative to the caps height. That triggers the “babies have big heads” pattern. The lower case letters should contain big round circles, when there is a choice of letter form, which evokes the “babies have big round eyes” pattern. For the lower case ‘a’, you want the “single story” version, often associated with italic and san-serif fonts (but not exclusively), as opposed to the “two-story” version. Similarly for lower case “g”, you want the simpler version that has the bigger “head”. Also, san-serif is more adorable than serif.
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          Babies are the baseline standard for adorability. They have big round eyes. They have big heads relative to their bodies. Adorable babies are also a bit chubby with gentle curves that have a large radius of curvature.

          Not gonna lie, I had to giggle because this is the first time I’ve seen someone attempt to come up with an objective measure of cuteness. How about we give it a unit of measure? I propose it be named an uwu. “The font was at least 30 centiuwus.”

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            Hmm, I know babies are the cuteness standard but I never thought about that removed from the features themselves. Thanks!

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            A few things make me think Fantasque Sans Mono is cute. It’s got relatively chunky strokes (the “m” has lots of “ink” to it). I put a sample up at https://m.bonzoesc.net/@bonzoesc/106105499791357051

            There’s enough ornamentation to not be austerely geometric like Futura or Avenir, but there’s an imprecision and lack of uniformity to it. The top of the “k” is looped, and the loop is more tadpole-shaped than it is round, just like the void in the bottom of the two-story “a”. The middle of the “e” is gradually sloped, although that’s really subtle. The “g” is a fun two-story thing, with a bigger void in the basement than the ground floor. The leg on the “R” is at a funky angle. The “3” is bottom-heavy.

            I guess to an extent it might be a feeling of irregularity, lots of things that are purposefully at conflicting angles, terminals on strokes being a bit suggestive of the hypothetical pen starting at an angle before aligning with the grid. Stuff that really only works on retina screens and in a way that an OS vendor wouldn’t pay for.

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              Thanks! That makes a lot of sense. I guess I’ve never really carefully looked at individual glyphs.

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              for me it’s how it’s rounded with a wide radius. kind of like those fridge magnets kids play with.

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              I love Fantasque Sans Mono; it’s so damn cheerful and twee every time I look at a terminal or editor.

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                l and I look identical in that font :(

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                  As in the font used on lobste.rs which made your comment a bit hard to parse ;)

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                    yeah, fonts shouldn’t introduce ambiguity by displaying different characters the same way.

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                    l and I

                    Perhaps I’m missing something, but if I type them in the code sample input box on Compute Cuter (selecting Fantasque Sans Mono) they look different to me?

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                      I also see clearly identifiable glyphs for each when I try that. The I has top and bottom serifs, the l has a leftward head and rightward tail (don’t know what you call em), and only the | is just a line.

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                      Honestly when is that ever a real issue? You’ve got syntax highlighting, spellcheck, reference check, even a bad typer wouldn’t accidentally press the wrong key, you know to use mostly meaningful variable names and you’ve never used L as an index variable… So maybe if you’re copying base64 data manually but why?

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                        My friend who’s name is Iurii started spelling his name with all-lowercase letters because people called him Lurii. Fonts that make those indistinguishable even in lowercase would strip him of his last resort measure to get people to read his name correctly. (Of course, spelling it Yuriy solves the issue, but Iuirii is how his name is written in his id documents, so it’s not always an option)

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                          It could be, and it’s not just limited to I, l, and 1. That’s why in C, when I have a long integer literal, I also postfix it with ‘L’: 1234L. Doing it that way makes it stand out easier than 1234l. And if I have to do an unsigned long literal, I use a lower case ‘u’: 5123123545uL. That way, the ‘u’ does stand out, compared to 5123123545UL or 5123123545ul.

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                          cf

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                        I really like using a font called “JuliaMono” because it has nicely designed mathematical symbols and brackets. It makes programming with unicode (which I think is cute) a lot more enjoyable for me.

                        e.g. a function to test if its input is a pangram can look like this:

                        ispangram(str) = lowercase(str) ⊆ 'a':'z'
                        

                        Which is both a beautifully simple way of describing what a pangram is and (in my opinion) a cute way to write it. Using a font where the subset symbol fits nicely with the monospace font makes it look more natural and makes me more likely to do it.

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                          I was looking exactly for a font like Julia for working with Isabelle/HOL, since it also heavily relies on Unicode. Thanks for this tip!

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                            Happy to help! I hope it works well for you :)

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                            I was going to reflexively complain that JuliaMono is sans-serif only , but I now see it has serif versions too, which is frankly a bit weird, but not unwelcome.

                            It’s sans-serif straight through, see below…

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                              It does? Where are they?

                              And yeah, obviously any particular font won’t be for everyone, but that’s all right and I like JuliaMono :)

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                                OK, I retract my comment, the examples here https://cormullion.github.io/pages/2020-07-26-JuliaMono/#examples were just placeholders as the webfont hadn’t loaded in. That’s fine, the “serif fonts” were kinda meh ;)

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                            Given how most of the radio groups on the page provide links to other resources where I can use the font, color scheme, etc that I’ve selected, I would’ve expected the same or similar from the desktop background choice. Am I missing a way to download a cute constellation wallpaper? Or does that option simply change part of the image at the top of the page?