[Beta 23] Scrivener On-Screen Type can Look Great

I haven’t wanted to push this point, feeling its importance would bring the original post to attention, but it looks like it’s getting lost, and I do think Lee and Tiho will be very interested to see it.

The end result is not complicated, if I’ve given the technical detail they’ll need.

What we get from it is that Scrivener can look a whole lot better. The capability is ‘in there’.

I’ve believe I’ve been able to show that Scrivener can have on screen type appearance very much like MS Word.

I did this using the exact framework Scrivener is based upon, its next to newest version, as I felt that’s likely to be the stable one Lee and Tiho are working from.

I wouldn’t be able to take it further from here as it’s their code, not to say their project, if that needs explaining.

The attached image gives an idea of the difference – it’s actually better than the forum can show. The first lines are as Scrivener now, and the second as it can look, on exactly the same font. If you want a lighter look, just as with paper, you’ll use a lighter font, but it will still be well-formed, even, and clear,

The original article explaining is here: [url]https://forum.literatureandlatte.com/t/beta-23-technical-proof-how-fonts-can-get-their-look-back-in-scrivener/47036/1]

It’s late, so I hope how I’ve said this comes across as meant – and then you can see what you want to do with it.

Thanks for posting this. Reading the orginal post makes sense.
This feels alot like what happens when when in color management you get two profiles fighting.

Odds are the QFont hinting is either fighting or diabling Windows Clear type, maybe it was developed before that.
So turning it off might be allowing the windows system which is very user tunable for look to take over the font hinting.

Sounds like the best choice if it doesn’t break other parts of the Scrivner code, would be to place a setting for this in the software and let users turn it on and off. But it might be that it would then break other line length funcitons.

There’s a setting…

In Options -> Editing -> Options
Under the “Options” separator, end of the line, “Use font hinting.”
Turn it off and see if it changes anything. My experience, nothing happens, but your experience may differ.

Great responses, each of you, thanks!

And guess what? Applying one more ‘old hands with software’s instincts’ move, and bingo, that setting works!

Best of all, it does just what my exploratory code did: it gets that clean look for type, right in current Beta Scrivener!

All you have to do, is unset that Options-Editing-Options-Use font hinting checkbox, then completely shut Scrivener down, then start it up again. Such reboots can be the charm…

Results to compare are attached. Remember that your screen will look even better, due to the slightly fuzzy images the forum and browser interactions create.

And @wordjoy, quite appreciated your thoughts, and agree as in original article, that it looks like the problem is a type of clash like that.

Given there’s a checkbox present (good eyes @rwfranz), might think Lee and Tiho had noticed something like this, not yet decided what to do.

In my opinion, defaulting the checkbox to off would be a great solution for the present, and then if the underlying issue from the framework gets cleared, can turn it back on. Easy but safe.

Here’s the solid and good look with the setting and restart as above, on same 5 test fonts I’ve been using:

Remember to open the image in a new tab, or better yet, download and open at 100% in a graphics program to see how good it really is, and the same to give the full look for the original at bottom.

And here’s how Scrivener looks right now, that began this exploration:

Personally, I don’t like it. I find it unpleasant that it boldens the fonts. The font you are using in your example is supposed to be thin, and applying the hinting distorts it without improving the rasterization.

For low resolutions screens, maybe, but I have no way to test that.

Font hinting turned off

Font hinting turned on

Well, krastev, if you don’t like it, leave the checkbox as it is – seems simple, doesn’t it?

A couple of points, though, for others…

  • once again, what you see on your Scrivener screen will be better than what the forum does to screen pictures

  • ‘pixel-peeping’ blowups will always look blurry. as screen font shaping works by a proper illusion using this colored spreading. Since this is correct for our eyes at actual size. It buys you an apparently better screen…

  • font improvement for screens has always been dynamic, so that if you have one of those higher resolution screens popular now, you’ll see just more clarity, and less boldening

  • from the history and technology again, the reason fonts are bolded for screens is exactly because the resolution isn’t as high as in print; so that small features which make font appearance distinctive, to give their look, need to be made to ‘fit’ with coarser dots. The use of color allows this to work as well as it can – obviously not quite as crisp print, but better.

  • for most persons, spindly and uneven isn’t as readable, so this has been a good and successful design. And there has been lots of history about it.

  • last point. I’ve been on a quiet campaign here to have this forum not be quite the contentious place others on the internet have been headed for – here we should be more literate, thus aware and evenminded, would seem…

By the way, thanks for poking into this and posting your results! I had documented this for what it does, and kind of left it at that, but now that I can see the clear results it has on some kinds of fonts (seems to be mostly PostScript Type 1?), I’ve added a small section to the manual that will hopefully point people to the right setting if they are unhappy with how their favourite font looks.

One last note:
If your text quality matters to you getting the best resolution for your screen your can afford helps.

For writers, this should come before large SSDs/HDs, i7, or more RAM than 8GB. A better screen will improve your enjoyment of the machine more than many of the common marketing pushed upgrades.

A 24" screen and HD is not good for text.

To the extreme, my 13.3 inch notebook has a 4K display, not for movies. I opted for it because It renders fonts smoothly because it has a 330 DPI similar to many offices and home printers…

And for this you need to be running Windows 10, with a newer update, Windows scaling has seen many improvements over the last two years making high DPI screens more useful for writing vs just video work. These options should be coming down towards the more budget-friendly machines soon.

I agree, more pixels to communicate data from the computer to your eyes is always good.

I run a 32" 4K display surrounded (sides and above) by four 24" 2450x1440 displays, and it’s nice.
It’s mainly for my day job, but it doesn’t hurt for writing. :slight_smile:

I’m going to disagree somewhat. Not because you are wrong, but because people and situations are different, so I’ll present another point of view. I expect my machines to last 7 years. I think that buying a new machine and expecting it to perform well in 6 or 7 years with less than 16 GB of ram is a mistake. 8 is fine now, but will it be in 5 or more years?

SSDs are, I think the best investment you can make. Improved speed and reliability. We agree on I7, not important. I agree with you though that most writers or others not doing video editing or intense graphics etc. do not need particularly large drives. Lots of my clients are using 150 GB or their 1 TB drive and would have been much better off with a 250 GB ssd, though I tend to recommend 500 GB just because the price difference is minimal.

But, to your main point on the screen. I strongly recommend to all my clients NOT to get 4k screens because they are likely to have some software in Windows that doesn’t handle it right and it can be very frustrating. Older users want bigger text and when they get 4k monitors they have to run at 200% zoom to see anything!

For myself, big dual screens (or more) are the biggest help. I want the binder and the inspector and the article open on one screen and often have a quick reference or webpage research or pdf file open on the other. I often need 3 or more windows up and working at the same time.

I would be very frustrated trying to work on a 13.3 inch screen, and wouldn’t care how nice it looked.

Again, wanting to be quiet here afterwards, but a comment or two on the recommends…

  • The screens thing has to be subjective, personal, but I’d be in the camp of more screen room for windows, and have been considering a second screen on the writing desk for just the reasons SteveShank mentions. You can get good with tricks on a single screen, though. And Scrivener is full of help to adapt this way. Including no-distraction, something also to consider.
  • SSD - well, the pretty instant-on (20-30 sec vs. 3-4 minutes) seems to me anyway a big gain for writing. When you just want to get to it with an idea, this is going to help, and it’s just, well, nice. The really smaller SSDs don’t last as long, and something like a 500GB is pretty cheap now: $75 for a Samsung 860 at Amazon, a brand many think best. If you take photos, also…

I’m glad I’m not your client so you didn’t talk me out of the 40" 4K TV that is my monitor–it’s one of my best PC-related investments ever. I can–and often do–have 6 or more windows open on it. It beats my previous three-monitor setup with a stick.

I can’t understand the blanket anti-4K suggestion. I’d recommend my current setup to anyone (well, if you have the desk space), and I fall into your “older user” category. Scrivener–among many, many others–looks great on it. Maybe you’ve been looking at the wrong monitors?

(To be fair, the laptop that drives it also has a 4K monitor–much smaller, of course–which doesn’t enthrall me, but I never use it unless I’m mobile.)

I’m over 60 years old and run Windows 10 at 4K on my 32" monitor,using 125% zoom.
I have no problems with it, nor does any of my software. YMMV.

The only minor annoyance is that the dot pitch on the 32" monitor isn’t the same as the dot pitch on the four 24" monitors that surround it, and Windows can’t properly compensate for that, so things that cross the boundary between monitors don’t quite line up right.

RJO - You are quite right. If you have a 40" screen or even a 32 inch one, then the 4k monitors might be just fine. I was incorrect in making the blanket statement. I was just talking about choosing a smaller screen with more pixels rather than a large one or two with just HD.

A 12x12 pixel character on a 40" screen probably looks fine. On a 15" screen it is too small for older people to see, so they have to zoom a lot, then some programs have trouble. If you read these forums, you’ll find lots of laptop owners who got 4k screens and had trouble.

I never use any window full screen, because my screens are too wide, so it is quite possible that the larger hi def screen would work perfectly well for me and be as easy to manipulate multiple windows on it as two 27" screens.

Also with that big a screen, the 4k monitor probably makes a lot of sense because you’d see the pixelation on a mere HD screen.

Good clear additional thoughts noted, SteveShank, should definitely help out.

One more thing on the setting to get good font looks. AmberV’s nice comment above as far as helping Type 1 fonts is right, but can say the help isn’t limited to those.

Any font type will get the better look, and all the examples I’ve posted have actually been the more contemporary OTF versions.

The greatest improvement as many will understand comes on serif fonts, but you can see even the Microsoft-heavily-tuned Calibri is better. Even though they’re kind of famous for making fonts screen-optimized, with rather less regard for looks anywhere else.,.

Just wanted to thank the contributors to this thread, as I’m in the market for new laptop + external monitor(s), and the info here has really increased my understanding.

Particularly, thank you narrsd, for persevering in your font research! :smiley:


The fear of 4K has its place about 2 years ago, maybe unless you fall for all the Forbes clickbait about Windows 10 and are still trying to stay in Windows 7.

Microsoft has been selling near 4K resolution Surface devices for several years.
So that became a good motivation for them to get scaling right.

And while I know they are working on dual-screen laptops, I do 90% of my Scrivner/Final Draft fiction writing on a 13.3"notebook on my lap with 4K display. And it has made my Desktop 27" 2560x1440 look a bit pixilated when I write on it. My next Desktop will be 4K just for the quality of typography.

I have one piece of software that does not scale its fonts. An old TP-LINK utility for monitoring my power-line network. And Windows even has a setting I can turn on to ZOOM it.

Not sure what the OLD PEOPLE comment was about since anyone who knows a small bit about Windows basic settings knows Fonts scale with your setting. In my case the 4K display recommends 300% scaling I use about 225%

4K doesn’t mean TINY fonts. It means SMOOTH WELL HINTED and KERNED typography. And the worst-case scenario is you run the 4K set to 1920x1080 the display DPI is so high even that scales well.

SSDs will affect your machine performance more than getting an i7 over an i5. And the SSD also will make your 8GB machine run well for years. The thing that makes 4GB machines feel slow is that they also have mechanical HDs… I have added SSDs to 8-year-old 2 core i5s and they run writing apps and most none video apps like a new machine.

This is my personal buying preference order:

  • Keyboard feel I prefer the current HP Spectre feel, but at work, I am on a Surface Laptop all day and it is fine.
  • Battery life
  • Screen res Surface comparable or 4K if you can afford it. So your machine will be future proof for better typography and image processing.
  • i5 or better because it is now also running 4 physical cores like the i7
  • 8GB or better. I have 16GB. right now with Scrivner and the browser open I have 10GB Free, Windows is not even allocating it for buffers.
  • 512GB SSD fo Me, because I dabbled in graphics and video work For writers 256GB is the minimum.for most others even pure writers.

If you do heaving video editing or gaming that would be another list.