2009/Please Your Pixel-Hungry Eyes With Codes That Read Better

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Make the text you see in the Terminal window more legible and readable by finding, customizing and designing your own font!

Speaker: Bram Pitoyo

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Contributed notes (notbenh)

font nerd, how are you different? - you see serifs - you see the variations in the typeset


Type started as metal chunks, thus spacing was only constrained to the width of the character (thus non-mono space).

Mono space, enter the teletypewriter as the spacing needs to be consistent.

Underwood Five: one of the first monospace sans-serif typeface selections for a typewriter.

monospace for readabity

When you compare non-monospace (both sans and serif) monospace, the monospace is not optimized for space. Your text will take up more space, but what you loose in space is a gain in the ability to optimize for readability.




Anonymous Pro

Extra wide, thus more readable. Italics and bold Italics.



has been optimized for both readability and printably.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consolas http://www.microsoft.com/Downloads/details.aspx?familyid=22E69AE4-7E40-4807-8A86-B3D36FAB68D3&displaylang=en


as Frutiger deritive (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frutiger)



droid sans

It's bundled with the Android SDK.


Envy code R


How to hack your fonts


- letter spacing - letter width (wider = readable) - stroke contrast (a wide stroke contrast degrades readability)


- check for distinctions (ie does Cap O and zero look different, how bout one, cap I and lower L) - hinting (convert a hi.res font to a low.res bit font, you start to loose context so you have to make compromise with the actual pixel arrangement for the greater good)

How does each sysmem render fonts?


Tries to stay very close to the type setting, print relates to screen. It causes 'fuzzy' text.


Cleartype attempts to make fonts readable on screen, this causes a disparity between the screen and print setting. Though does allow for a crisper display.

Linux (FreeType2)

Attempts to find a middle ground, strives to preserve letter text but still constrain to the restriction of the pixel.

Lets start to play

Line Spaceing

As a general rule, more space is more readable, though don't go overboard you start to loose context.

Character Spacing

Again more is often better but you start to loose space.


Can improve legability, though can also make things start to look fuzzy if there too small.

Building your own font


- dep. GTK2 lib

Edits pixel based fonts.



Emulates much richer font designers.

Handles both bitmap and vector type sets.

Has the ability to specify hinting.


not so stable on the Mac but solid on linux. Available as binaries, updated regularity.


how much translate to non-latin fonts

Because mono space fonts are restricted to a strict spacing, it really depends on the restrictions of the actual language that you are designing for. Some languages are better then others.

What is the best way to make your own font

It's likely better to find an open font and use FontForge to modify as needed. If you really want to you can start from scratch but it's a lot of work.

fontstruct.fontshop.com is also a fun tool but you are restricted to a grid.

Do you know of any Type usergroups in town?

currently no, but there might be something in the works.

Whats the coolest thing that you've bumped in to in the realm of tech meets type?



Github has the ability to display fonts as they are stored as glifs in XML.

How does TrueType differ from OpenType

OpenType can do everything that TrueType does plus so much more. OpenType can address multiple language sets, multiple display types, ligiatures all with in the same file. With TrueType these would be stored in diffrent files as the TrueType standard would can not address these features.

Where can you find fonts

Open Font Library


Greek Font Society