Quality of typography?

Complete newbie here (sorry!) … I could be crazy, but in my first half hour of experimenting, pasting in text from my word processor (Nisus), I could swear that the rendering isn’t as sharp/clean in Scrivner. Am I nuts? I would assume they are both using the built-in OSX rendering, but … there’s just something not right, especially in the kerning?

In the attachments, look at the space between the o and the s in “hostile” in both programs … there are other examples you can see in the screenshots.

Maybe I’ve missed a basic kerning setting …

Thanks for your help!

Both use exactly the same text engine, yes. At different scales, however, Nisus does have the advantage. They’ve done a lot of customisation to the text system, and I’m not entirely sure why kerning looks better at larger scales in Nisus, but Scrivener’s scaling works the same as in many other OS X text apps such as Bean and TextEdit too…

Something looks a little malfunctioned to me, in that second screenshot. That is distractingly bad kerning, and I’ve been trying to reproduce this but cannot. I typed in the same text you provided into NWP, and set the font to Adobe Garamond Pro, 24pt. Then I pasted the text into Scrivener and the result is identical, down to the pixel. I lined up to the two screenshots in Photoshop and there isn’t a single difference between the two.

So some things to try: Documents/Convert/Formatting to Default Text Style, of course. Though if this is a custom font you might want to avoid that as it will blow it away and anything else in the document.

The kerning and other typesetting tools are in the Text/Font sub-menu. You might want to try selecting the text and setting kerning to Default.

With the latest Nisus and Scrivener running on Leopard the font rendering is exactly the same.

I’ve attached a superimposition of the two. The grey, grey is a scaling problem that’s probably from the screen capture utility I used.

I suspect the original poster may have a display card hiccup that a reboot might fix.


Thank you everyone, I appreciate your efforts! I will try your suggestions.

It’s still happening, after a reboot/etc. the kern after b in the word “bird” or “break” is just off. Selecting default kern, no kern, etc., doesn’t change it. Neither does switching to other fonts – this is happening with Adobe Caslon, century schoolbook, Adoba Garamond, etc. Another example is that there are gaps between letters and period (after the “w” in “below.” for instance))

I hate that this bothers me, but it does seem unique to Scrivener. Shoot.

What scale text are you using? What happens if you resize the view - does the kerning change?

I figured it out I think. The issue seems to be in viewing “normal” sized type at larger sizes. So the default 13pt size, on the full screen view set at 175%, will have these issues. When I change the default text to, say, 24pt, the kerning looks like Nisus.

I’m not sure why Scrivener handles the kerning of scaling differently … seems okay in Nisus. But I guess this is doable – it doesn’t affect the printing, I don’t think…

Have you tried emptying the system, user, and font caches followed up with fixing perimissions?

Use a system utility like Yasu or Onyx to perform those steps and I bet the anomaly will disappear. Seems like whenever my iMac gets a little wonky, those steps clear it right up.

Damn, I even meant to ask if you were using text zoom last night but it slipped my mind. Now that I try a 13pt found zoomed to 175% I can reproduce the bad kerning; I don’t think it’s system corruption/cache related.

It’s caused by rounding issues in the OS X text system. Try scaling to a non-100% factor in the Wrap to Page view of TextEdit and you will see the same thing. It certainly won’t affect printing. Nisus does some very cool things with a customised version of the text system, and it seems to avoid many of the problems other programs have with the text system unfortunately. I will look into it further though.

Thank you, Keith,
I thought we had to live with it. When I first moved to Scrivener, I found this very disturbing as well. My workflow demands that I use 10, 11, and 12pt font sizes, which means that I usually work at 150% and therefore look at bad kerning for most of my day.
It is almost as if kerning rules were not observed when zoomed to anything but 100%. In most cases, there is to much space behind an “s”, “l”, or “w”, and not enough behind an “e”. This occurs regardless of whether an old TrueType or the most advanced OpenType font is used and it is exactly the same in Text Edit or DevonThink (which both use Apple’s text engine).

Is there any reason why you couldn’t use 18 point, say, in your draft and then compile your output at the smaller sizes?


I’m about to take up a technical support issue with Apple on other scaling problems anyway, so I’m going to mention this one and see if they have any advice. I’ll let you know what they say when they get back to me, hopefully next week as they have a three-day turnaround on developer tech support incidents.

Not sure if there’s something similar in Cocoa, but in Java this kind of problem arises if you don’t set a rendering hint for fractional metrics in the graphics context. Basically the fonts are kerned in whole unit pixels (assuming no scale factor), then when it’s all zoomed up the rounding error gets magnified.

I think I’ve found a solution - there is a poorly-documented Cocoa feature that requires you to use a slower version of font rendering when text is scaled. There are various other scaling issues for which I currently have a tech support issue out with Apple, though.

I have this issue too. It’s a bit off-putting.

I’m using Courier 12 (a pretty normal choice, I think) at 100%, and there are definitely some odd issues with kerning.

Here’s two views, one without invisibles and one with. Look at the space between the words “slowly” and “up”.


Zooming the text to any alternative value doesn’t get rid of it.

Update: if I select most of the paragraph containing the “offending” text, then go to Format -> Font -> Show Fonts, and then re-select the (exact same) font and size, the poor kerning goes away.

So, not sure why it was there in the first place!


Have you got “Use fine kerning” selected in 2.0’s Editor preferences? That was supposed to fix this. Unfortunately this is an issue with the text system and that’s the best the Apple development tech support guys could come up with… This is unfortunately an issue with most programs based on the OS X text system.

Aha - “fine kerning” - yes, that was selected, and it all looks better with it switched off. Odd for kerning adjustment to be just ‘on’ or ‘off’. Anyway thanks for the heads-up.

Think Scrivener 2 is very good btw :slight_smile: