Font Format Quality Comparison

Font Format Quality Comparison
MathTime font comparison:

Click here for comparison of "Times compatible" ath fonts.

Unhinted versus Hinted TrueType:
diagram diagram
Sample from MicroSoft's Font Properties Extension Help Page
For each of the four indicated Computer Modern fonts (roman, italic, sans serif and typerwiter), we show here one sample using our high quality fonts in ATM compatible Adobe Type 1 format and the same sample using competing fonts in TrueType format.

You should be able to easily tell which is which!

Which one would you rather see on your screen?

Look in particular for

  • shape of "R" in the roman and the italic fonts;
  • shape of "N" in the typewriter font;
  • ring in "Aring";
  • drop-outs in the dipthong "OE";
  • right leg drop below baseline in "R";
  • undershoot of bottom of rounded part of "Q";
  • unevenness of stems in different characters;
  • unevenness of the weight of figures (digits);
  • "unclean" appearance due to filling of corners;
  • and so on...

Some Notes:

In this illustration font smoothing was turned on (which is why the GIF image can't be bi-level, but has 256 levels of gray). Things look even more ragged without font smoothing.

These samples were enlarged on screen by 20%. Rendering deteriorates even more when the magnification is lower.

Computer Modern is rather thin and spindley, which makes it a bit harder to render well on screen than say Times or Helvetica.

The sans serif font is the easiest because it has the thickest strokes and there are no delicate details at the ends of stems.

The outlines of the TrueType fonts shown here, by the way, are quite accurate. The problem is in the lack of proper hinting.


TrueType fonts can be made to render very well on screen. The "core" fonts from MicroSoft attest to this. The problem is that the TrueType font format makes it about an order of magnitude more work to properly hint TrueType fonts (the complexity is in the font rather than the rasterizer), so few TrueType fonts ever do get properly hinted Sampo Kaasila - of Type Solutions - and Tom Rickner - now at MonoType - are two of a very small number of experts that can do this well. None of the TrueType versions of the Computer Modern fonts have been properly hand hinted.

To learn more about "hinting" check out Hinting in Type 1 fonts and TrueType Hinting and:

Acrobat PDF Hinting of scalable outline fonts (114k byte Arobat PDF file).

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