Full-screen mode and underlined text

Greetings. I’m an old-school fiction writer, so I use 12-point courier when writing. In full-screen mode my text is orange with black paper (background). I also use underlines to indicate italicized words.

I’ve noticed that underlined text in full-screen mode is nearly invisible. Is there a way to modify this behavior so I can easily see underlined text?



Not sure if this will help – I’m strictly a very-dark-gray on very-light-gray writer myself – but the underlining will be a bit more distinct if you try raising the baseline:

text > font > baseline > raise

There is perhaps a recondite setting which allows you to change the color or the intensity of the underlining; if there is, someone will find it for you.


Thanks for that tip. I tried it… unfortunately, it didn’t help.


Well if you aren’t terribly picky about your font, you could try the Bitstream Vera Sans Monospace font at 11pt ('bout the same size as 12pt Courier). Underlines seem to stick out a bit better to me.

This is a way to make underlines more bold, but it is awfully clunky. You have to pull up the Font palette, and above the font list there is a row of style buttons, the left-most depicts and underlined ‘T’. Set that to “Double,” which I guess when you are printing looks like a double underscore, but at 12 pt just looks like a thicker line to me.

Oh, bitstream. That’s one of my favorite fonts!

Yes, the Bitstream family is a quality act. Very readable and well hinted for a variety of sizes. Lately though, for monospace anyway, I’ve been happy with Inconsolata, which was inspired by the Consolas font, distributed with Windows Vista. Unfortunately, for this specific application, it’s underline is about as difficult to spot at a glance as Courier’s.

I’ll amend my original response. I think the underline is even more obvious at 10pt with Bitstream Mono—but at the expense of being slightly smaller than Courier 12pt. The advantage on my screen, anyway, is that the underline actually touches the baseline at 10pt, lending weight to the letters themselves. The text almost looks bold.

I don’t think it’s “picky” to want to write fiction in the same font I’ll use for manuscript submission, just as I’ve done for 20 years using various versions of MS Word on a multitude of platforms. This is what has been considered standard manuscript format for a very long time (though yes, when an editor wants another format, I use it).

So to summarize, yes, I do want to use full-screen mode with 12-point Courier and visible underlining. If I didn’t mind using another font, i.e., a fancier font, then I wouldn’t mind using italics instead of underlining.

“Old school,” old dog, whatever. One of the reasons I was drawn to Scrivener was so I could write the way I want.


Well, firstly, although you say you wish to use standard MS format - which is absolutely fine and Scrivener will never tell you otherwise - do bear in mind that one of Scrivener’s features is that it allows you to write in one font and export or print in another (and you can even write in italics and have them converted to underlines on export/print). Thus, you can write in any font you want and then export or print to standard manuscript format using Courier 12 point. The other users were just trying to help you in full knowledge that you can change font on export/print. You obviously like writing in Courier 12-point, which is fair enough, but they weren’t to know that.

As for your problem: clearly the problem is caused by the particular choice of colour against a black background. Scrivener has no control over how fonts or colours are printed to screen. (It uses OS X’s built-in text system, the same one as TextEdit, for rendering text.) There are bound to be some combinations that are worse than others. That said, I just tried Courier 12-point with orange-on-black and it worked fine on my screen, so it may be a combination of colour, font and screen. It may also be to do with the particular scale you are using - do you have your text scaled in full screen (for instance to 200%)?


Hi Keith,

I do know that you can write in whatever and export to whatever. This isn’t my first foray into text editing in special purpose editors. Prior to Scrivener I tried Ulysses, CopyWrite, etc.

Here’s how I began my initial message: “Greetings. I’m an old-school fiction writer, so I use 12-point courier when writing.” I think that’s pretty clear about what I use and what I want to use. If I didn’t want to use that combination I would have tried what I actually wanted to use and likely would not have needed to post a message about it here, i.e., I would have given up on 12-point Courier.

I do know many writers who use Times, Palatino, Helvetica, or whatnot while writing drafts. I’m not one of them, and to be told to change my font when I began by stating my preference is not helpful (“picky” comes to mind as particularly unhelpful). The point of full-screen is to have it your way without distractions, and changing to another font is an added distraction for me. I’ve spent 20-plus years reading, writing, and editing manuscripts written in 12-point Courier so for me that is most natural.

In answer to your question, I have my text scaled to 150%. That is what is comfortable for me on my PowerBook (built-in screen).

I should note that I do something similar in MacJournal, and I have no problem seeing underlined Courier in MacJournal’s full-screen mode.

As a test, just now I tried bumping up some underlined Courier text from 12 points to 18 points. I can then see the underlined text in full-screen mode… but only when the cursor passes over the text.

More testing: I’ve tried resetting to other zoom percentages, including 100%, with no change in behavior.

Any other suggestions on how I can use 12-point Courier in full-screen mode? If there’s no solution I suppose I’ll have to give up on full-screen and use the standard editing mode where I can see underlining with Courier (though it’s a bit faint there, really).

Could it be the video card? My PowerBook uses the ATI Mobility Radeon 9700. Underlined Courier appears to be fine in other text editors on this Mac.



Hi Dan,

I think you misread Amber’s post. She didn’t say you were picky; she said that if you weren’t picky about your font, you could use such and such. Of course, you were specific about your font, but the others were trying to be helpful, even if their replies weren’t that helpful in the event and they missed your comment about Courier being your preference. I admit that I also missed your initial sentence on first read-though (I have a hundred or so e-mails and posts to answer each day and - although I do my best to read them thoroughly - I do occasionally miss important details.)

Anyway… I just checked on my iBook 12" and the underline is a bit unclear there. But it is in other applications, too, such as TextEdit. Unfortunately there’s not much I can do about that, because I have nothing to do with the text rendering code - as I say, that is all Apple’s. I’m not sure why it would appear any different in MacJournal, as they use the same text engine to my knowledge. It does seem to depend on display, though, as I say, because on my MacBook, MacBook Pro and on an external monitor the underline is clear. It may just be the lower resolution (1024 x 768).

All the best,

You seriously misread my post. A lot of people are happy in variants of a font style. There was no indication as to just how resolute you are about your preferences in said line. Hence, I took the time to test about five different fixed width fonts for you, to see which one had a good amount of underscore weight in full screen.

I believe the correct response to such would be, “No thanks, but I prefer Courier 12pt.”

Have a splendid day.

“Well if you aren’t terribly picky about your font…”

Emphasis on “picky” was yours. If you didn’t mean this as a dig at someone who had admitted a specific preference, then a thousand pardons.



Many, many times I, like other older writers, have been scolded for using 12-point Courier. For younger writers who grew up without the need at one time to compose on a typewriter, and with a bounty of computer fonts and the use of real italics in some markets where this is accepted (or preferred), it seems crazy to them that we’d use what we have become accustomed to using (e.g., my fingers automatically gravitate to underlining keys for italics). And I agree that if a market requests a specific format you’d better give the editor what they want. That doesn’t mean, as you pointed out, that I cannot compose my story in the font of my choice and export to the font of the editor’s choice.

So the comments in question seemed to be more of this sort. If I am mistaken, then I apologize.

Back on the original subject… for the sake of Amber’s argument that I should change my font… I tried the suggested font.

It didn’t work. Same result in full-screen mode as before. (In addition, this particular font has distracting dots in the middle of zeros that look to me like eyes. Again, it’s whatever you are accustomed to using.)

I’m thinking now that one or both of two things is happening here:

A) There’s something very wrong with my full-screen preferences settings.

B) My Mac’s graphics card and display combination doesn’t play well with some programs.

Thanks for trying to help.


For the record, I just tried full-screen (green on black) with Courier 18 & 12 point and the underlines were strongly visible.

Dan, I wonder if you might try changing your screen resolution in preferences to see if that has any effect? Display cards can sometimes do odd things when rendering fonts.



My mac is undergoing surgery so I can’t test this, but did you try a slightly lighter shade of orange? Also as a test you might try a slightly grayer background. If that helps at all it might just be a contrast thing and you may want to try changing your monitor/LCD settings a little.

The old amber hercules display modes on the early word processors don’t interpret well on todays finer dot pitch monitors.

It is not clear from the above (unless I have missed a line) whether you have tried changing the colour, but that might be something else to try.

Just to see if underlines show up better in a green, or a different shade of orange, etc.

I know it is not what you would prefer to be working with, but it might help isolate the problem, or provide you with an acceptable compromise.


PS - Just so you know, the vast majority of users who make suggestions here will do so with best intentions, and won’t be having a go at you (we all have our own idiosyncratic preferences for things like text colour, font, full-screen or not, how to setup the binder, etc.).

Amber, being one of the moderators, is one of the most hepful people here, so I am sure it was just a slight misunderstanding of tone/intent.

Yup, you pegged me. My first computer for writing was an IBM clone with a herc card and an amber monitor. (Truth-be-told, before the PC clone I used a 40-column Commodore-64 with an 80-column converter card, but I now consider this to have been a form of quaint, computer-assisted torture.)

I’ve tried several alternate colors, just to see what would happen… no difference.

What’s really odd now is that I just got Phil’s baseline trick to work with an older file created with a much earlier template. When I figure out why there’s a difference between the older and newer files I think I’ll have the problem licked.


Tried that at your suggestion… very ugly on my laptop display, though it might work with an external display. This PowerBook display really prefers to run at 1440 x 960 resolution.



I’ve tried other colors with the same results. See my earlier reply – looks like I may have found a clue that will lead to a solution.


Certainly not! I go back and forth between two fonts depending on my mood. One is a sans-serif, the other is created from actual pressings from an Underwood typewriter! Since I actually still do a lot of writing on an Olivetti (another mood thing), it is nice to see a familiar stroke in both mediums. So, I would be the last one to score a strike against anyone who prefers Courier 12pt, being a young digital tyrant notwithstanding! :slight_smile:

But anyway, I have reproduced your error! At first I thought you meant the underscore was diminished, but from further posting I see you truly meant invisible, and indeed that is what I see. Underscore in the regular editor—completely invisible in full screen.

Screen resolution, font magnification, all of the usual suspects have absolutely nothing to do with it!

To Keith:

The problem is clearly that the underscore is being drawn in black, while the text is being drawn in orange. This can be confirmed by selecting a block of text and noting that the underscores are in fact there, but black against the now lighter selection colour.

This is especially odd that others are not able to reproduce it. Some setting or potentially a bug is causing this to only happen some of the time. I cannot find the source. I tried changing the colour of the underline manually using the font palette, I changed it to bright red, and then went back into full screen. The underscore stayed bright red.

So I selected a range of text that includes underscores, and using the colour palette, change the colour of the text. The underscores stay black for me, which would make sense. But! It gets even more fun. :slight_smile:

Making a new underscore in the coloured area produces a matching underscore—not a black one! This particular underscore will respond to Full Screen’s edicts of orange-ness! Not only that, it will re-colour to black. But that does not guarantee that it always will. A convert to default editor settings command to reset everything causes the error to revert (though note, this does not reproduce the error reliably in documents that do not already exhibit it).

Yes, because further down the Rabbit Hole, newly created documents do not exhibit this. But newly duplicated documents from older documents I have not edited in a while, do. In other words, I can reproduce this error in some documents but not others, within the same project.

It should also be noted that this does not appear to be related to Courier at all. I can reproduce it using several different fonts chosen at random.

Incidentally, this is the latest Scrivener beta, running on Tiger.