Does Scrivener have an optimum dpi?

Because I have little understanding of things like monitors and software design, this question may be illogical. But the reason I ask it is because I want to upgrade from my seven year old 17" Acer VGA monitor to something around 22", the reasons being better sharpness from a digital image and more screen room. Since the majority of my computer time is spent on text, especially Scrivener, I want to be able to optimise the size and sharpness of the text. What concerns me is that monitors are designed to be sharpest at their maximum resolution and even on my present monitor I find 1280 x 1024 too large to read text comfortably and run it at 1024 x 768. What extra problems will 1920 x 1080 give even though it is a digital image not analogue? In the midst of this, I’m wondering whether in the design of Scrivener, there is a sweet spot in terms of actual dpi? Any help would be appreciated in determining how best, in buying a new monitor, to optimise the size and sharpness of Scrivener text on the screen.


I think I know enough to say a couple things:

The short answer should be: No, there is no optimum monitor dpi for Scrivener (in particular).

An application such as Scrivener does not render text (i.e. does not “draw” characters on your screen in pixels). Your operating system is responsible for rendering the text on screen (and your system + printer drivers are responsible for rendering text on printouts). Both of these use “draw” information that is in the font files in your system to determine how to do that.

Scrivener just stores text as characters. It knows you wanted to start that sentence with a capital ‘A’. But Scrivener does not know (nor does it need to know) even what an ‘A’ looks like and certainly does not know anything about how that should be “drawn” on your screen.

So, what should matter for you is the quality of your monitor and the quality of your operating systems text rendering system. You can check general reviews of the monitor you are considering using with your type of machien. Whatever is said about the quality of type there will be true across all your apps. There is no special info about Scrivener that is germane.

Though it is a virtue of Scrivener, that you can set a default zoom % for the Editor pane and see text at any size you like to work at without changing the font size setting of your text (so your composition prefs do not effect your output).


Thanks for your help.

I know this may be an expensive option, but i do genuinely believe that proper “retina” displays are one of the most significant upgrades for computer use in the last 10 years. The ability to display fonts crisply without compromising their fidelity with destructive anti-aliasing and hinting, is a great leap forwards (for typophiles and those who value good typographic design anyway).

The Scrivener sweet spot is really as high as possible because text scales without issue (and Scrivener offers very intuitive text zoom settings). My 4K iMac is an effective 4096 x 2304 on a 21" display, DPI is around 220DPI and text is so wonderfully legible. When I have to work on my PC system, going back to a standard ~100DPI 21" monitor is just painful. Most external 4K monitors are sadly 27" which gives lots of screen real estate but compromises pixel density, and it is notably degraded compared with the iMac. I wish we could buy 21" 4K external monitors… There are some 27" 5K monitors which should be around 218DPI, but they push the GPU of most computers.

If you don’t have the luxury of getting a retina display, then you should really run your new monitor at its native resolution, and adapt your sitting position and software settings to compensate…

Thanks for the advice. I’d not thought of Retina displays but one of those will have to wait until I’ve sold my first best-seller, I think :smiley:. For now I’m looking at a BenQ VA display that gives excellent contrast and also has eye-care technology like a matte screen with anti-flicker and low blue light settings. I’ll experiment with your advice on running at native resolution.