Tuesday, February 20, 2007

If I could only have three fonts...

If I could only have three fonts, the fonts would be:

  • Microsoft's very beautiful Verdana font (Download) designed by Matthew Carter. This is the most readable true type fonts at the low resolutions current computer displays have. In order to take full advantage of this font in Linux, you need to enable autohinting in FreeType; a process that requires a recompile of FreeType and may violate some patents.

  • The Summer Institute of Linguistics Charis SIL font. This is a derivitive of another one of Matthew Carter's typefaces: Bitstream Charter. This is a True Type conversion of the original, free Bitstream Charter font. Charis SIL has excellent multilingual support, and, more importantly for my uses, has all of the special characters linguists need to transcribe the sounds of words in IPA (a special character set that directly transcribes how a word sounds). I use this font in my English classes to show people how to say different words.

    For some reason, the Charis font has noticably thicker stokes than the original Charter font, like the font was very slightly bold. The font also has a couple of annoyances. One is that the spacing between lines is very large; this is so the font can fit complex litagures used with some IPA transcriptions. The other annoyance is one it shares with Bitstream Charter: The font looks unattractive when rendered on a low-resolution screen. Even anti-aliasing does not completely resolve the issue. Interestingly enough, once I make a .pdf file from a document using the Charis SIL font, the .pdf looks fine on a computer screen. In fact, all of my English lessons use the Charis SIL font.

  • The Unicode versions of the old X11 "Misc fixed" fonts. These are very readable fonts that I have been using in some form or another since 1993; they are very readable bitmap fixed-width fonts. They are far easier on my eyes than any courier derivitive. The main disadvantage of these fonts is that they areonly available in a few point sizes, and that they only work (as far as I know) in the X11 environment for Linux and UNIX systems.

All three of these fonts are freely downloadable, and I have mirrored the fonts here.

Note that both the Verdana and the Fixed fonts look excellent without using any anti-aliasing. I don't like anti-aliased fonts; they give me headaches. In particular, since the fonts look a little blurry, my eyes always try to refocus on them; this hurts after looking at them for a while.

The MaraDNS support mail is starting to pile up again. I'll probably catch up with today's emails tomorrow.