Tuesday, June 12, 2007 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Apple, Microsoft, and Font Rendering

Joel Spolsky:

The advantage of Microsoft’s method is that it works better for on-screen reading. Microsoft pragmatically decided that the design of the typeface is not so holy, and that sharp on-screen text that’s comfortable to read is more important than the typeface designer’s idea of how light or dark an entire block of text should feel. Indeed Microsoft actually designed font faces for on-screen reading, like Georgia and Verdana, around the pixel boundaries; these are beautiful on screen but don’t have much character in print.


You picked a funny bit to quote from that article, because it doesn't seem to be choosing either side. I'd choose this:

Which is why Apple engineers probably feel like they're doing a huge service to the Windows community, bringing their "superior" font rendering technology to the heathens, and it explains why Windows users are generally going to think that Safari's font rendering is blurry and strange and they don't know why, they just don't like it. Actually they're thinking... "Whoa! That's different. I don't like different. Why don't I like these fonts? Oh, when I look closer, they look blurry. That must be why."

Btw, I prefer OS X's rendering over Windows any day, but that might be because I am quite sensitive for typographical quality.

I'm on the side of Microsoft and the old Apple: there should at least be the option to sacrifice beauty for easy on-screen readability. Optimize fonts on the screen for the screen and fonts on paper for printing. Only use print fonts on the screen when you're designing something that will be printed.

Coding Horror links to an interesting white paper about FontFocus, a technology that increases contrast by snapping glyphs to the pixel grid.

For roman text I wholeheartedly prefer OSX rendering. However for Korean text Windows rendering is beautiful and readable. You simply cannot read Korean text in size 12pts or os rendered by OSX.

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