Hand machined mechanical pencils

Summary of single-line fonts (10/01/15)

What's a single-line font?

Go and read Evilmadscientist's page on their Hershey text extension for Inkscape. In addition to the Hershey extension, they have an excellent overview of what exactly a single-line font is and how it compares to "outline" fonts.

Single-line fonts (also called engraving fonts, technical lettering fonts, pen plotter fonts) are hugely useful when performing machining or drawing operations. For example, suppose you have a laser cutter and want to mark text on something. You could raster a normal font (shading in the black areas) but this would take time. Or you can use a single-line font, and simply use the laser beam to "draw" along the path, forming a smooth letter. The same applies to routing, milling, water-jet cutting, and many other engraving/marking processes.

Why this page?

I've come across loads of different fonts, all over the place, and reckoned it would be useful to have them all on one page for reference. When I was going through them, I discovered some that I'd forgotten all about!

Useful links

Other pages with fonts, software, how to remove double lines, etc.


The fonts

Enough waffle - here's a list of the actual fonts I have. Each link goes to a section further down the page which has more details, where to get it, and a sample image of the font. Click on any of the sample images to view a complete display of the entire alphabet and numerals. I've split the fonts into three categories - there's a brief description below each one to explain what I mean.

Scroll right down to the bottom of the page for a conclusion with my thoughts on which font is best to use.

"Procedural" fonts:

A computer program or script is used to generate the required text.

True single-line fonts:

These are normal font files (TTF, OTF, PFM etc) which have either a single line or two overlapping lines and count as "true" single-line fonts.

Constant-width-stroke fonts:

These are ordinary fonts which have a relatively constant stroke width. Although they can't be used directly to create a toolpath, it's easy to trace over them to create one. Since they are outline fonts, they can be used in any software, with no problems relating to closing lines, overlapping paths etc.

"Procedural" fonts

Asteroids (C code)

Author: Trammell Hudson

Font name: Asteroids

Line type: Single

Comments: Based on Ed Logg's original handwritten notes for the Asteroids game. Used in the author's vectorscope clock and twitter oscilloscope.

Availability: Source code and example available from the author's website.


Hershey text (for Inkscape)

Author: Evilmadscientist

Font name: Hershey Text

Line type: Single

Comments: Very nice looking. Script Alt uses Sans numerals. Machine Tool is probably based on this, especially Script.

Availability: Inkscape extension is available here.


HP1345A vector display

Author: Poul-Henning Kamp

Font name: HP1345A

Line type: Single

Comments: The HP1345A vector graphics display was used, among other things to generate graphics for the movie Wargames. Very nice vector font - similar to Veribest Gerber. The author's website has downloads of the original character ROMs, plus Python scripts to generate SVG files from them.

Availability: Author's website here.


True single-line fonts

CamBam Stick

Author: George Race

Font name: 1CamBam_Stick_****

Line type: Double

Comments: In Rhino, "Allow single stroke" sometimes causes problems (for example, missing bottom of "a") - best to leave un-checked then remove duplicates manually. Author mentions that a cutter will go over them twice. Some work in Illustrator but have the odd missing line. Similar to the Eng_ fonts.

Availability: Zipped TTF files available from the author's website. Free for personal use.


CNC Vector

Author: Philippe BLONDEL

Font name: CNC Vector

Line type: Double

Comments: Nice font but still has double lines, even with the single-stroke option enabled in Rhino. Works properly in Illustrator.

Availability: Zipped TTF files from the author's site. Free for personal use.



Author: Doug McIntyre

Font name: Eng_****

Line type: Double

Comments: Some fonts throw up odd little lines. Similar to CamBam. Old Type 1 font. Doesn't appear in Illustrator (isn't even listed).

Availability: Zipped TTF files from here. These were originally posted on a Sawmillcreek discussion, which has lots of interesting info on the fonts. Unknown license - assume for personal use only.


Machine Tool

Author: Engineering Geometry Systems

Font name: Machine Tool ****

Line type: Single. However, note capital "R" in SanSerif - there are two tiny stray lines half-way along the tail. See MecSoft which is similar (nearly identical) to SanSerif but without the stray lines.

Comments: Grenadier has some trouble with verticals on the C and D. True single lines, very nice. Doesn't work in Illustrator. Probably based on Hershey text.

Availability: Zipped TTF files here. According to this discussion, these fonts used to be given away with FeatureCAM, which was a product of Engineering Geometry Systems, who were bought by Autodesk, who were bought by Delcam. They apparently used to be available for download from their website for free, so I'm probably OK offering them here. I can't remember exactly where I got them. Unknown license - assume for personal use only.



Author: Robert McNeel & Associates

Font name: MecSoft_Font-1

Line type: Single

Comments: Similar to Machine Tool SanSerif, but doesn't have stray lines in capital "R". Doesn't work in Illustrator.

Availability: Download TTF from McNeel's site here. Unknown license - since supplied for use with Rhino and RhinoCam, assume commercial use OK.


Orach Technic

Author: Unsure

Font name: OrachTechDemo****

Line type: Single. Small gap in the numbers 0 and 8.

Comments: Single lines. works in Illustrator. Small gaps in the numbers 0 and 8, but otherwise exact single lines. Nice pure H/V lines and circular arcs. Two versions avilable, one with double lines.

Availability: Download TTF, OTF, or PFB/PFM files from the E-Engraving portal here. Unknown license - since "demo" appears in the font name, assume for personal use only.



Author: Robert McNeel & Associates

Font name: RhSS

Line type: Single

Comments: Exact single lines. Kerning seems a bit small (squashed letters). Doesn't work in illustrator.

Availability: Download zipped TTF from discussion page on McNeel's site. Sounds like for personal use only.



Author: Unsure

Font name: SDstroke-latin

Line type: Single

Comments: Exact single lines. However letteers are a bit unslightly - gaps setc. Doesn't work illustrator

Availability: Download OTF file here (Japanese site). Link is second entry from top. Unknown license - assume personal use only.


Constant-width-stroke fonts


Author: Eric Olson / Process Type Foundry

Comments: Based on mechanical lettering kit

Availability: Commercial - check out the author's site.


Century Gothic

Author: Monotype


Availability: Should be included by default on Windows.



Author: Johan Aakerlund

Comments: Very similar to Bryant Alt, with lots of circular arcs, but it's free!

Availability: Download from author's Deviantart page. Free for personal and commercial use.


Courier New

Author: Monotype


Availability: Come on, you should have this!



Author: Tobias Frere-Jones


Availability: Commercial, purchase from Hoefler & Co.



Author: Mathias Nösel

Comments: A really cool "neon-effect" font, which is used (with some modifications) in Taylor Swift's 1989 World Tour-related media (see, for example, http://www.taylorswift.com/news/230983). Yes, I'm a TS nut...

Availability: Download from the author's Behance page. Free for personal use.



Author: Johan Aakerlund


Availability: Download from author's Deviantart page. Free for personal and commercial use.


Mentor GDT & STD

Author: Mentor Graphics

Comments: The GDT version has special symbols on the lowercase keys ("GDT" apparently stands for geometric dimensioning and tolerancing).

Availability: No idea! Mentor Graphics do PCB design software, so I suspect I must've installed something from them a while ago and still have the font left over. Email me if you want the font files.



Author: Johan Aakerlund


Availability: Download from author's Deviantart page. Free for personal and commercial use.



Author: Matthew Skala

Comments: OCR is an optical character recognition font. See Wikipedia for some history. OCR-B is a rounded version of OCR-A and is easier to read.

Availability: Download ZIP file from here. This contains TTF, OTF, and PFB/AFM files. Important note: there are several varieties of OCR-B (inverse, black background etc.) but I was only able to install one of these fonts at a time. With one installed, all the others looked the same! Free for personal and commercial use.


VeriBest Gerber

Author: VeriBest (now Mentor Graphics)

Comments: This is very close to the vector font that Eagle PCB uses. Also similar to the HP1345A vector display font.

Availability: Again, not sure. I've probably had them left over from a previous software installation. Email me if you need the files.



So, here's the winners: