I used to despise all antialiasing on fonts and had it turned off even on an LCD. I knew ClearType was supposed to make things easier, but it just annoyed me for some reason. It is likely a conditioning thing but not just what you are used to but how close you sit to your display. With ClearType I found I could sit further back and stop looking at individual pixels and consider the words as a whole. I can sit even further back and read the page as a whole which is good for the eyes and the back. I think as you look at the philosophical differences between Apple and Windows text rendering you need to first ask; what is the purpose of text on the computer screen?
Physiologically the eye needs sharp edges to most efficiently decode text and at the same time the character must maintain its essence, e. The scaling differences you note have no impact on readability; in fact they are a decision related to hinting of the font. With hinting, decisions are made on how to best keep text contrast, maintain appropriate symmetry and keep consistency between characters.
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Hinting decisions are made by typographers who are skilled knowing how to best represent a glyph on the medium. These typographers are also often either the original typeface creator or people that work with the original designers. It is a significant skill to make text that displays optimally on screen mediums. The weight differences you noted are, in my opinion, primarily related to the asymmetric scaling used in the Microsoft solution. At low text sizes with low resolutions screens, a symmetric scaling significantly increases the blur.
Since this scenario is where most reading occurs, Microsoft felt that was important for their solution. At higher text sizes or higher density screens, that becomes less of an issue, and symmetrical scaling is a better solution. Viewing distance does play an important role in the perception of text—but one cannot just change the viewing distance and leave everything else static. Efficient reading is in the range of point with a peak at 11 point with a 50cm viewing distance—this is because of use of the fovial vision which is required to decode the details of type.
Moving further away probably requires increasing the point size of the text. Greg Microsoft Advanced Reading Technologies. Greg: I understand where Microsoft is coming from and there is little doubt that ClearType does a very good job of making fonts look incredibly clear on an LCD display thanks to the clever pixel-alignment and hinting process.
I have tried and failed to work this hinting magic with my own Envy Code R font so appreciate the difficulty involved. Great article with a phenomenal visual aid. You live and learn. When I read text I see the overall shape of the text, therefore even if there is a decrease in contrast as a result, antialiasing which makes the text appear closer to the correct shape increases the readability for me.
This is especially true with very small text, where I often see the pixel grid aligned or non-antialiased text as a mess sharply contrasting pixels that I have to stare at to interpret. With mac antialiasing turned on, I can scan my eye across and read the text by shape, even though it is much blurrier. I find the jarring contrasts, jagged edges, and uneven spaces in the Microsoft solution much more distracting and a much higher detriment to readability and eye strain than the slight fuzzing of the Mac solution. Legibility is a whole complex subject in itself. If one is reading paragraphs of text, then unevenness in spacing and such are much more disruptive and tiring than a small amount of unsharpness in the individual letters.
Line length relative to type size is important, too. There is no excuse for the Microsoft method, because the shitty text rendering ends up burned into images and posted on the Web, it ends up burned into video clips, it is not confined to the Windows Desktop. That is a dangerously vague statement, I know. Just the fact that a straight black line right on the pixel grid has less chance of blurring, and is therefore clearer?
The real issue I have with font rendering on Windows is how the shapes of adjacent letters interact with one another… the way letters are spaced always looks kind of awkward to me. I could be wrong, but it feels like this is part of the adherence to the pixel grid? It does seem that shape is perhaps less easily quantifiable than alignment with the pixel grid. What would be really great to have is some sort of font-rendering test tool, where one could tweak the various considerations involved in drawing the font.
Like a slider for how much pixel-alignment you want etc. A very informative article. Many thanks fro the review. As Greg correctly points out, text meant to be read onscreen should be very legible.
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The irony of these philosophies is that Microsoft, of course, developed and distributed the most well-designed screen fonts made since the original Mac OS hand-drawn pixel fonts. I know which position I agree with. The ascenders, descenders, and spacing between letters are key in this regard. I created a set of Courier fonts for the Final Draft screenwriting program and had to custom hint instruct them using the Microsoft Visual TrueType method.
When you combine a font hinted this way with ClearType sub-pixel anti-aliasing, only a very small amount of anti-aliasing is actually applied to the font because of the way the pixels are already perfectly grid-aligned. The result is sharp but ugly.
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Mac users will prefer Mac font rendering, Windows users prefer Windows, and so forth. And BTW, vanni, Mr. Gill would obviously root for Linux :. To my eyes, there is no comparison when it comes to the overall quality of the Apple solution to typography. I have spent many more years reading text perfectly rendered in print than I have reading text on screens, so my eyes are used to looking for accurate representations of what they have seen for decades.
When it comes to detail and nuance, Apple almost always wins vs. Yeah, right. By aligning the top and bottom edges of letters with the pixel grid, things like logos look much crisper. This ensures baselines are on-grid throughout. Adobe will return a value to the fourth decimal. For example, you might get Convert to outlines and measure the x height or E height as appropriate, in points.
This is how high you want your lowercase or uppercase letters to be. The uppercase letters in this example will have a bit of antialiasing at the top. In this case lowercase is more important, visually try it both ways to see this. If not, something went wrong. A sharp-bottomed V will extend below the baseline. In Windows the bowl will have sharp pixel steps, only the x-axis will be anti-aliased. No contest. Same fonts will appear as it is in Adobe Indesign versions. Except Keying in material every thing is possible.
How I have make make it compatible? Typography is an art but it has parts of a science. Different fonts were created for different purposes, like big letters for your business facade or others for reading newspapers. In this case it should be the same. You should use fonts for computer reading created to look best in that medium, that are hinted and have tracking and kerning information developed to look good in that medium. As monitor resolutions grow bigger things may change a bit, but still you should use a font meant for reading when writing a paragraph and a font meant for visibility when writing a big heading.
Whether Mac users read faster on their Macs than Windows users on their Windows boxes or the other way around is in no way certain and will depend on who those users are. If on the other hand, you do most of your reading on MSDN, you will definitely have trouble reading fast on a Mac display. The whole discussion leaves a few crucial thing out, however.. Just a small note from me. I must say that I find reading on the Windows box using cleartype quite tiring compared to the Mac approach to anti-aliasing. Need to delete some tabs tops in a paragraph?
It's easy to do using the Tabs dialog box, as described in this tip. Adding dot leaders to your text is easy through the application of tab stops. This tip explains the steps you need to Enter your address and click "Subscribe. Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.
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Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted. Many thanks for this very useful tip. I prefer to use a mouse and the ruler to position tabs etc and sometimes I have a problem where the tab will not set where I want it to. Now I know why. I have made the changes as per your tip and it works fine for me.
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