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Fonts readability (was: Arial vs. Helvetica.)

Le sextidi 16 thermidor, an CCXXV, Martin Read a écrit :
> On a computer screen, I tend to find that sans or quasi-sans (e.g. fonts
> where 'I' and 'l' have serifs but other letters mostly don't) fonts are more
> comfortable to read (and, in particular, hold up better at small point
> sizes).

At small point sizes, the bitmap fonts still beat the vectorial fonts in
terms of readability.

For my XTerms, I use courR12.pcf.gz from xfonts-75dpi, aka
-adobe-courier-medium-r-normal--12-120-75-75-m-70-iso10646-1; its glyphs
are 7×13 pixels. I would not change it for a vectorial font. I sometimes
also use 7x13.pcf.gz from xfonts-base, aka
-misc-fixed-medium-r-normal--13-120-75-75-c-70-iso10646-1 because it is
more complete.

Notice that -adobe-courier-* is a serif font while -misc-fixed- is a
sans-serif font. But I find -adobe-courier-* much more readable,
especially for long text (and when I say long, I mean MBOTF-long).

Another point where the bitmap fonts beat the vectorial fonts at tiny
sizes: you usually want your vectorial fonts anti-aliased, but at tiny
sizes it hurts readability. Even worse, the anti-aliasing is done wrong:
it is done without taking gamma correction into account. That means that
when 50% intensity is wanted, it produces 22% intensity instead:
black-on-white is too thick, white-on-black is too thin.


  Nicolas George

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