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Emacs 23.2 will pick up the default GNOME monospaced font, so if you’re a GNOME user - you’re basically covered. If you’re not - don’t worry.

The simplest way to set the Emacs font is just to add the following in your .emacs (or init.el):

(set-default-font "Inconsolata-12")

This code will set the Emacs font to Inconsolata (my favorite monospaced font) with font size 12pt. The problem with this approach is that it will not work with a X Emacs client (emacsclient -c) connecting to an Emacs daemon (emacs –daemon), because the code will get run when the server starts and will basically mean nothing to it. You can alleviate this problem by using the appropriate hook for X clients, but I find this distasteful. A much simpler solution is to forget about set-default-font altogether and simply create a file named .Xdefaults in your home folder. Put the following in it:

Emacs.font: Inconsolata-12

Afterwards run the following command:

$ xrdb -merge ~/.Xdefaults

At this point you can start Emacs (in normal or daemon mode) and your new font settings should be in effect.