In a recent issue of IEEE Spectrum there is an article on fonts written by a typeface researcher at Microsoft. He discusses how the low resolution of computer displays compromises the fonts and makes reading unpleasant. Even a low-end laser printer has a resolution 4 times higher than the best displays, well printed newspapers and books are much higher than that. Given that, it is not so surprising that we still find papers and books more comfortable  to read than computers. This is becoming an ever more important issue as we use displays more and paper less.

Many months of work go into designing and rendering a font, it is surprising how much works and how much science goes into it.

One thing he recommends is fonts designed expressly for computer displays, rather than adapted. As an example, Verdana and Lucida were designed for computers verses Times New Roman which the Times of London designed in the 1930’s for the typesetters of that era. Windows Vista includes 6 new fonts designed for today’s displays.

I’ve been using Lucida Console for years and have always liked it without knowing why. Interesting to learn there is actually a lot of science behind that preference. Today I’m switching my default fonts to Verdana to see how that feels.

The article is likely available online, most IEEE articles are.


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