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"Smoothest" looking font?

edited May 2006 in Vanilla 1.0 Help
Any suggestions for "smooth" looking fonts on a PC (i.e. no clear type) that are common (i.e. web safe)?

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    There really are only like a dozen web safe fonts, but I have no idea what you mean by "smooth"
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    I suppose I mean like more anti-aliased looking.
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    Yeah, font rendering/smoothing is usually a matter of the OS.
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    BenBen
    edited May 2006
    They all look considerably smoother if they have TrueType turned on. But that's an OS choice of course.
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    edited May 2006
    Funny you mention that... I was looking around earlier today for the very same thing... Lucidia, Helvetica, and Verdana looked about right.
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    lechlech Chicagoland
    Typically, just for that performance boost, I kill the anti-aliasing because it not only does it look like ass on fonts that are under 10px in size, often they're illegible under higher resolutions as a result as well. However, after you reach a certain font size (for most fonts) higher than 11px , the text does become more anti-aliased and smoother which then, isn't all too bad. I prefer it to be crisp and readable rather than looking like someone smeered vasseline across all the lines of text.
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    Wouldn't it be cool if some international terrorists threatened to blow up the moon if a regular set of hundred or so fonts weren't included to every OS? It would be nice if MS finally accepted the fact that some twenty odd years old fonts just don't cut the crust anymore, there might actually be a market for uhh.. I don't know, fonts that didn't make you gounge your eyes out. Just a perception I guess.
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    3stripe3stripe ✭✭
    If and when sIFR v3 comes out it will be possible to itsy-bitsy text that is super crisp, as it is meant to finally include Flash 8 support with its lovely rendering engine.
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    Kosmo, have you seen these new MS fonts then? Although it's cool to bash MS, I wouldn't say they're slacking there. That should improve the situation a little, particularly as many are designed by well-respected type designers, but it'll still be a while before Joe Blogg's has them on his home/work machine.

    Hinting is supposed to be the best of both worlds, well-placed and spaced pixels at small pixel sizes, system-based smoothing at larger fonts sizes. The work involved in getting a font to look right at small sizes is phenomenal (and rather boring). The Berlin-based Dutch font designer Luc de Groot said he spent months working on his on-screen font for the dutch ministry (more info on his site with pictures under "infos & samples" to the font "Corpid"). He also designed two of the new Microsoft fonts above, including a monospaced font good for coding with. There's a long interview (nearly an hour) with the MS ClearType team online.

    Some other manufacturers make web fonts too. Linotype have started making some specially screen-optimised versions of some of their fonts which they call XSF and fontshop offer their FF webfonts package. There's also Gnome/Bitstream's Vera fonts which are free. The problem is they are not out there on people's machines, even if they are free. It's only really the big guns such as Microsoft who have the power to achieve such market penetration.

    On another note, the appearance of font smoothing improved immensely for me after tuning cleartype settings (windows tool for flat-panel screens). Also worth considering some fonts such as Lucida Grande look way better with smoothing on, but only half as good without.
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    edited May 2006
    If and when sIFR v3 comes out it will be possible to itsy-bitsy text that is super crisp, as it is meant to finally include Flash 8 support with its lovely rendering engine.
    Huh?

    sIFR determines the size of the flash movie by laying out regular HTML text of a similar font size and seeing how much room it takes. The problem with this is that it works better with short pieces of text than long ones. When applied to full paragraphs, minor differences in font metrics have major consequences on the size of the text. I just don't see how it could work.
    but it'll still be a while before Joe Blogg's has them on his home/work machine.
    Fortunately, through the magic of CSS, we can just tack the new fonts on the front of the font-family tag and it degrades properly (though it would be nice to be able to set a different size for each font family).
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    Ok, well since the new Windows Vista fonts are so good and great, how is the support with Mac OS X? See, that is what I was talking about, I little care about MS bash or anything like that, I just want a good collection of typefaces that can be found from each OS, is that so much to ask?
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    Ok, well since the new Windows Vista fonts are so good and great, how is the support with Mac OS X?
    Once again, who cares? It isn't difficult to make a single page look decent on any platform by specifying good font fallback candidates.

    It won't look *identical* on OSX as on Windows, but why should that matter?
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    > how is the support with Mac OS X?

    well, they should work fine as they are on OS-X platform as TTF/OTF files (search a little around the net, and you can find them and try them out). The problem will be, getting them widespread on Macs. If MS makes an 'absolutely must have' update for Office for the Mac and bundles them with it, for example.

    > just want a good collection of typefaces that can be found from each OS, is that so much to ask?

    Sure, me too. It's just not quite so easy to achieve. Even if fonts are free such as Vera, most people don't have it installed on their machine. Even if MS were to be 'altruistic' enough to make a free webfonts download aimed at Mac Users, designers would adopt it, but Joe Bloggs would continue working oblivious of it. The fonts need to be 'smuggled in' with something else. Perhaps MS contributing the fonts to OS-X Leopard?
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    Opera, Firefox and [insert favorate browser here] should really pick up the core fonts for the web idea that MS abandoned.
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    Gaah! But not comic sans!
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    Opera, Firefox and [insert favorate browser here] should really pick up the core fonts for the web idea that MS abandoned.
    1. With what fonts? Bitstream?

    2. How will giving ~10% of web viewers a new set of fonts help the font fragmentation issue?
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    Once again, who cares? It isn't difficult to make a single page look decent on any platform by specifying good font fallback candidates. It won't look *identical* on OSX as on Windows, but why should that matter?
    You're right: it's that older designer-control vs. device/platform-usability discussion. Mac OS-X and windows are fairly similar in terms of 'designability' and user-experience but as soon as other devices come into play - mobiles, pDAs etc. it becomes clear it's not just about appearance. All the same, it would be nice to have more choice, so that those who want to appear 'a little more friendly' don't always plump for Comic Sans.
    there might actually be a market for uhh.. I don't know, fonts that didn't make you gounge your eyes out.
    I guess what you're getting at is more choice for less uniformity and to look 'more fresh'. I'm not sure that the main web fonts themselves that are around are really 'bad', just ubiquitous.

    In general, typefaces for reading copy are made for clarity and legibility rather than personality and more often than not the more 'personality' a font has, the more difficult it is to read in large quantities. There's some room for personality in this - trebuchet, arial, verdana, lucida are all sans faces but different - but one doesn't necessarily need a huge variety of base fonts for this. It's still possible to add typographic personality through display faces, through headings, colour, logos etc. – siFR is one such way to do that - so you can 'look fresh' whilst using the base web fonts that are around.

    The same principle applies similarly to most of the world's newspapers - most use text fonts that are very similar to one another and 'subdued' and distinguish themselves through headings, colour, banner, layout, use of imagery etc. There was a study somewhere that said, even in the world of corporate print where design control is greater and typeface choices huge, that helvetica is still the most heavily used font.
    Opera, Firefox and [insert favorate browser here] should really pick up the core fonts for the web idea that MS abandoned.
    Bundling fonts with browsers would be a way of increasing their spread, particularly if it were also to include the most-used browers on the respective platforms, but MS aren't likely to make it easier not to use their own browser. See the current discussion on google versus MSN as the default search machine.


    Another reason why font makers are a little reluctant to invest huge amounts in things like hinting is that they will eventually become obsolete as display devices get ever better. The new laptop screens already have 114ppi screen densities rather than the 72ppi of a few years ago. Once screens can do 200 or 300 dpi, good low-resolution display will no longer be such an issue.
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