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View Poll Results: What is the best font for the new template ?
Avantgarde 0 0%
Bookman 1 6.25%
Charter 0 0%
Helvetica 4 25.00%
Latin Modern 1 6.25%
New Century Schoolbook 4 25.00%
Palatino 2 12.50%
Times 2 12.50%
Utopia 2 12.50%
Voters: 16. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-05-2007, 09:24 AM   #1
Hadrien
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Template & extended font support at Feedbooks (poll)

We @ Feedbooks like to poll you in order to select the best suited font for the new Sony PRS-500 template. We're extending the support up to 9 different fonts:A template file for the reader is included in this post.

Since I can't poll for both the font size & the font name in the same thread, if you have any comments on the size, please post them here. The default size is 14 for the moment. Keep in mind also that it's really easy to generate custom PDFs. If the font that you voted for doesn't end in the #1 spot, you can easily customize your PDF settings on the website.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Font test for Sony PRS-500.pdf (355.9 KB, 487 views)
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Old 05-06-2007, 02:40 AM   #2
ath
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I'm not sure it is useful to ask users for 'best suited font' unless they have fairly extensive experience with material using those *exact* fonts. The pages you link to also suggest that these are *not* original fonts, but clones: Not Palatino but URW Palladio, not Times but Nimbus, etc. Is that correct? Be honest with your voters: use the real typeface names. Make sure blame as well as praise reaches the right source.

It may be better to approach the question from the other 'side': what typefaces were designed as good all-round text faces? Look for old-style numerals and small caps: those tend to be fairly reliable indicators. Also look for high x-height, and distinctive letter shapes. (AvantGarde is originally a logo typeface, and the added lower-case does very little to make it suitable for sustained reading -- you should not even consider using that one.)

For this particular application (medium resolution), also look for clear design, and absence of small details that won't get right unless you actually print the text on paper.

Another approach is to ask 'do these typefaces support all glyphs that are required?' Not all users can answer this, as they don't know what should be in the text. It's embarrassing to select a typeface for its beauty and then discover that it can't do breve accents in texts that require them.

Once you have work-horses that will do the job, you may ask about how pretty they are, or how any bystanders like their colour.

I would suggest Charter or Palatino as the primary typefaces. Note: the real versions -- I have no experience with clones: they may be all messed up or lack the necessary glyphs for all I know. The sample pages I see suggest typeface spacing is out of whack, but that may be a side-effect from the lines being so excessively stretched due to absence of hyphenation. Might also be a misconfiguration ... if you use LaTeX, make sure words don't get s t r e t c h e d out: that damages readability. And any word space stretched to a point where it is wider than line-spacing also kills readability: ragged-right may be preferrable.

(no, I have not voted for any typeface)
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Old 05-06-2007, 08:43 AM   #3
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Personally, I'd go with the Palatino type font for the main reading font. It looks ok to me. Also for a non-serif font, I'd choose Helvetica.
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Old 05-06-2007, 01:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ath
I'm not sure it is useful to ask users for 'best suited font' unless they have fairly extensive experience with material using those *exact* fonts. The pages you link to also suggest that these are *not* original fonts, but clones: Not Palatino but URW Palladio, not Times but Nimbus, etc. Is that correct? Be honest with your voters: use the real typeface names. Make sure blame as well as praise reaches the right source.

It may be better to approach the question from the other 'side': what typefaces were designed as good all-round text faces? Look for old-style numerals and small caps: those tend to be fairly reliable indicators. Also look for high x-height, and distinctive letter shapes. (AvantGarde is originally a logo typeface, and the added lower-case does very little to make it suitable for sustained reading -- you should not even consider using that one.)

For this particular application (medium resolution), also look for clear design, and absence of small details that won't get right unless you actually print the text on paper.

Another approach is to ask 'do these typefaces support all glyphs that are required?' Not all users can answer this, as they don't know what should be in the text. It's embarrassing to select a typeface for its beauty and then discover that it can't do breve accents in texts that require them.

Once you have work-horses that will do the job, you may ask about how pretty they are, or how any bystanders like their colour.

I would suggest Charter or Palatino as the primary typefaces. Note: the real versions -- I have no experience with clones: they may be all messed up or lack the necessary glyphs for all I know. The sample pages I see suggest typeface spacing is out of whack, but that may be a side-effect from the lines being so excessively stretched due to absence of hyphenation. Might also be a misconfiguration ... if you use LaTeX, make sure words don't get s t r e t c h e d out: that damages readability. And any word space stretched to a point where it is wider than line-spacing also kills readability: ragged-right may be preferrable.

(no, I have not voted for any typeface)
I used the name that LaTeX used for these fonts, and don't have a single clue if there's some other names for those. There's always copyright issues for embedded font, guess that's the reason why they're using clones. With both a link to those fonts page and a sample file, I believe I'm honest enough: everyone can easily see what those fonts look like.
As for hyphenation, it is used in the sample text. Only problem with hyphenation is that you have to set a pretty high tolerance value, or else, you'll be missing some words (Overfull hbox + some words disappearing in the right margin). No real solution for this yet, I'll try the microtype package, it might help.
This is not really much of a problem with A4 and the iLiad, but it happens a lot on the PRS-500 because of the smaller size of the screen (which means that you have to increase the tolerance value, but that's still a lot better than the flowing for RTF/LRF since there's hyphenation).
These fonts should support all the character needed for fiction works. I agree that small type is a pretty good indicator, that's why for each font there's a page with in font in size 10 to 16.

Oh and I believe that such a poll IS useful, we're letting the users select what suit them the best: those looking for another font can still customize their PDF and use another of these fonts.

Last edited by Hadrien; 05-06-2007 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 05-07-2007, 04:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ath
The pages you link to also suggest that these are *not* original fonts, but clones: Not Palatino but URW Palladio, not Times but Nimbus, etc.
(full disclosure: my day job is with www.myfonts.com where we sell all these fonts.)

Taking a look at the actual font names in the PDF:

  • actual font name ("pretty" font name): origin
  • URWGothicL (Avant Garde): URW++
  • URWBookmanL (Bookman): URW++
  • CharterBT (Charter): Bitstream
  • NimbusSanL (Helvetica): URW++
  • LMSansQuotation8 (Latin Modern): original TeX font
  • CenturySchL (New Century Schoolbook): URW++
  • URWPalladioL (Palatino): URW++
  • NimbusRomNo9L (Times): URW++
  • Utopia (Utopia): Linotype or Monotype
All these fonts are legally legitimate. Bitstream and URW++ are two of the big old-skool digital typefoundries that sprang up in the 1980s as PC-based desktop publishing developed. Both of these companies' font libraries are largely made up of legally-authorized "clones" but in most cases the quality is comparable to the "name brand" fonts they imitate.

I think the bigger issue in this particular font list is the age of the fonts in question. The "L" at the end of all those URW++ fonts indicates that these are very old fonts, probaly early 1990s (the "L" stands for "LaserWriter"), definitely pre-Unicode and probably deficient in modern character sets as ath suspects.

Another issue for fonts on the Sony Reader is getting fonts that look good at low resolution. This is no minor task -- most fonts look crappy at small size at screen resolutions -- so it's a good idea to stick to the classics for these applications. I agree with ath here too: Avant Garde was never meant to be a text face at all. Charter or Palatino would be my suggestions as well for serif, and Helvetica for sans. Additionally, for sans you might want to consider those good old Windows standbys, Verdana or Tahoma (or the new Vista font Segoe) which are highly optimized for readability at low resolutions.

The optimal solution would be to actually purchase licenses for recent versions of each font. They are only $20-$30 each and the standard license allows installation on 5 computers, as well as read-only PDF embedding.
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Old 05-07-2007, 07:12 AM   #6
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Well I've tested some of these fonts for breve accents, and other glyphs of this kind and they worked.
Some other languages are tricky. For japanese, chinese and korean, we also have to change the font encoding with LaTeX, and we switch to another font too in this case.

100% Unicode fonts would be the best choice, but we'll still get this font encoding problem (can't use T1).
If we can easily embed some of these commercial fonts with PDF files generated on LaTeX, without too many copyright issues, we could buy the extended versions, but I'm afraid that it won't solve much of the problem in this case.

As for the poll... There's no clear winner in the polls yet. Helvetica is leading but with a single vote. On the reader, sans serif fonts seems like the right choice to me but I can also understand why some people would rather have a serif font: we're used to serif fonts in p-books.
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Old 05-07-2007, 08:29 AM   #7
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Serif fonts survive for one reason, they're easier to read. Bookman and New Century Schoolbook are the easiest to read (by several studies) but they take up more space than Palatino or Times which will decrease the number of words per line and increase the page count of the books.

I have always found Palatino to be the easiest font to read for a long period of time and Baskerville (also New Baskerville) to be the most tiring font to read.
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Old 05-07-2007, 09:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RWood
Serif fonts survive for one reason, they're easier to read. Bookman and New Century Schoolbook are the easiest to read (by several studies) but they take up more space than Palatino or Times which will decrease the number of words per line and increase the page count of the books.

I have always found Palatino to be the easiest font to read for a long period of time and Baskerville (also New Baskerville) to be the most tiring font to read.
I really love Times but it doesn't work well on the PRS-500, it looked better on the iLiad. Bookman, New Century Schoolbook and Palatino, all work fine.

I don't think that the page count of the book is such a huge problem, the flowing of the page is much more important. I'll try to improve the overall quality of the display by using character protrusion, font expansion and kerning from now on. The microtype package allows a lot of fine tuning for these kind of display improvements.

We'll keep working on improving the overall quality of the typesetting: that's one of the good points when you use non reflowing format, you can fine tune the display a lot more. I expect reflowing formats to feature more and more advanced typesetting support in the future too.
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Old 05-12-2007, 10:29 AM   #9
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No winner ? Same number of votes for both Helvetica and New Century Schoolbook :-/
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Old 05-12-2007, 12:04 PM   #10
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Have a 'run-off' poll with just those two fonts, maybe?
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