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Old 03-10-2009, 07:26 PM   #1
jbruce
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Font Family should help Contrast

Coming from a design background, I think part of the contrast issue with the PRS 700 (beyond the touchscreen only doing 80% light pass-thru) is also caused by the use of a serif font.

Serif fonts have a darker gray value and less visual kerning than sans-serif fonts. Thereby making the overall page darker (which is one reason making the font-size larger - makes the perceived contrast greater - slightly more kerning). Therefore, if one were to change the default font-family to a sans-serif font (Geneva, Helvetica, Arial, etc.) they should see an increase in the visual contrast (the main navigation menu, and annotation menu are good examples which already do this).

With this adjustment no physical mod of the device would be necessary.

So, here's the rub. I've read the tutorials on changing the fonts on the Sony readers. And, though I am fluent in CSS + XHTML (and other acronyms as well) - not really understanding how to do it - in this context.

Can someone help me with more detailed instructions? or, give it a shot and post the results?

Much appreciated.

Cheers,
Josh

Last edited by jbruce; 03-10-2009 at 07:29 PM. Reason: changed "more visual..." to "less visual..."
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Old 03-10-2009, 08:12 PM   #2
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I normally change the font on my source files if I want to use another font. For my RTF files I use Arial and for my LRF files i'm using Times New Roman...so far both have been working out.
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Old 03-10-2009, 08:19 PM   #3
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Hmm...do you really want to read a whole book in sans-serif font? Using sans-serif font through a large body of text is another design faux pas, n'est pas?
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Old 03-10-2009, 08:21 PM   #4
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What steps does one have to take?

Are the font libraries for certain fonts already there, and just need to be called? Or, does one need to load the fonts somewhere on the device?

Uncharted waters for me with regard to manipulating these devices. (And, the tutorials I've seen so far - I have really understood.)
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Old 03-10-2009, 09:15 PM   #5
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Quote:
Using sans-serif font through a large body of text is another design faux pas, n'est pas?
Depends on the school of the typographer (and, IMHO, the age of the target demographic). Serif is traditionally used, if I'm remembering correctly, because people complained that the pages were too bright in sans-serif (Italian typographer I believe) - because serifs darken the page through optical color mixing.

Some new texts, in an effort to seem more "modern" (many websites, or texts on the digital world) - go with either a very light serif with noticeable variation between thicks and thins (Palatino or Georgia) or sans (Helvetica mainly). While others stick with more of a slab-like serif with more minor variations in thicks and thins (Times) more out of tradition than actual readability concerns (IMO).

Basically - what I think will happen - is less optical color mixing between the optical gray of the font, and the dimmed white of the background. The brightness issue mentioned above - shouldn't really play here - because the "paper" isn't bright white; therefore, won't reflect bright light back to the reader, which would ultimately lead to eye fatigue/strain.

In theory even a serif font which has a light gray would suffice. But, as I said, I can't figure out how to take the LRF files I have - and make them display in a different font. Zelda did a wonderful explanation for converting documents - but, the LRFs I have don't let me convert them; so, I can't get it to work.

Cheers,
Josh

ps. The fact that we're staring into a light-bulb is why I believe many web designers are now opting for serifs as well - dim the lights - so-to-speak. Some articles which may be useful. And, an excellent book on typography.

Last edited by jbruce; 03-10-2009 at 09:23 PM. Reason: Grammar & PS
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Old 03-10-2009, 11:43 PM   #6
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I really Like Georgia as a font on the 700. If you want to set or embed a font. Look at the guide in my signature for book designer.http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/Book...505.2C_and_700

or look at the Epub forum for how to embed fonts in an epub
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Old 03-11-2009, 09:29 AM   #7
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Yeah, I have that book too. I dabbled in design too but by way of a major in professional writing. It was a major that combined elements of design with writing though writing was, of course, the main focus. Anyhow, it's been years since I've dabbled in that stuff, having switched careers a while back.

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Old 03-11-2009, 09:57 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbruce View Post
Depends on the school of the typographer (and, IMHO, the age of the target demographic). Serif is traditionally used, if I'm remembering correctly, because people complained that the pages were too bright in sans-serif (Italian typographer I believe) - because serifs darken the page through optical color mixing.

Some new texts, in an effort to seem more "modern" (many websites, or texts on the digital world) - go with either a very light serif with noticeable variation between thicks and thins (Palatino or Georgia) or sans (Helvetica mainly). While others stick with more of a slab-like serif with more minor variations in thicks and thins (Times) more out of tradition than actual readability concerns (IMO).
hm, that's an interesting theory, but i've never heard anything like that before. the reason for using serif fonts for body text is that the letter shapes are more distinctive and therefore much more easily recognized by the eye while skimming, creating a more legible text without extra effort from the reader. sans serif text has many letter forms which resemble each other ; you can see this by looking at some text written in sans serif font and masking the bottom half of the letters (there is a visual demonstrating this effect but i can't find it right now).

the reason sans serif has become popular for web use including in body text is actually a question of resolution ; the low resolution of computer screens means that finer details are often imperfectly displayed, and fine serifs (like on Times) can give a sort of twinkling effect as they scroll which is distracting. a slab serif font displays better because the serifs are chunkier.

the grey of the text depends more on the weight of the stroke, the size of the eyes and the x-height of the font. since both serif and sans serif fonts can have thicker or thinner strokes and varying x-heights (Fontin, for example, is a serif font with a very high x-height ; Arial Black and Impact are both sans serif fonts which give a very dense and dark text), it's hard to generalise about that based on the absense or presence of serifs. overall, the blacker the font (smaller eyes, thicker strokes...), the darker the page will seem overall, however i am not sure this will affect perceived contrast. the wikipedia article about font gives a good overview for people who are not familiar with the different elements of typography. it is an interesting theory though.

Quote:
Basically - what I think will happen - is less optical color mixing between the optical gray of the font, and the dimmed white of the background. The brightness issue mentioned above - shouldn't really play here - because the "paper" isn't bright white; therefore, won't reflect bright light back to the reader, which would ultimately lead to eye fatigue/strain.

In theory even a serif font which has a light gray would suffice. But, as I said, I can't figure out how to take the LRF files I have - and make them display in a different font. Zelda did a wonderful explanation for converting documents - but, the LRFs I have don't let me convert them; so, I can't get it to work.
optical illusions can be powerful things so it's quite possible that you could influence the perceived contrast using one of these methods. i'd be interested to hear the results of the your experimentation.

as for the use of specific fonts though... while i believe you can embed fonts in lrf files at the cost of page-turning speed, the method i linked to only works for epub files. can you get the source texts for the lrfs you want to use ? if yes, you can reconvert them to epub and use custom fonts in them.
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Old 03-11-2009, 12:54 PM   #9
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@ thibaulthalpern

Yeah, I thought I was a budding typophile - then I read that book - realized I was more of acorn.

@ Andy

Thanks!

Georgia is a personal favorite of mine with regard to serif fonts. Has a romanticism to it.

If I would need to "typeset" and "bind" the books just to get the different font - the potential contrast gain may not be worth it...?

Will try one or two and post the results anyway - since I brought it up, and you guys have been helpful in educating me on how to do it. (Who knows maybe it will be part of firmware to change fonts - because there is a sans in the device - it's used for everything except body text.)

@ Zelda

Quote:
i've never heard anything like that before
Again, depends on the school of the typographer. This argument has been worked over for years - and the data still points to little-to-no difference; rather, a personal preference on the part of the reader.

Regarding long body copy, I don't have an overriding preference - I've seen horrible executions of both.

Gray determined mainly by stroke: agreed. However, it has been my experience that sans-serif fonts, have thinner strokes than serif fonts; therefore, would be lighter.

However, when reading long sans-serif text, on a white ground (some modern magazines), in bright light - I personally squint a lot - which causes strain; therefore, not a good idea on a white ground.

A pretty good article discussing the general arguments is available here.

Quote:
while i believe you can embed fonts in lrf files at the cost of page-turning speed, the method i linked to only works for epub files.
This was the key I was missing - thank you!

Thank you both again.

Cheers,
Josh

ps. More reading for the typophile in your life.

A decent book is Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton. The "brightness" comment was actually directed at Baskerville for his crisp and high contrast letterforms ("blinding all the Readers in the Nation; for the strokes of your letters, being too thin and narrow, hurt the Eye").

Last edited by jbruce; 03-11-2009 at 01:18 PM. Reason: shortened paragraph on stroke width
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Old 03-11-2009, 02:46 PM   #10
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The quick experiment.

Hypothesis: Different font faces (namely sans/lighter) will increase contrast & decrease reflection on the Sony PRS 700

Results: Having a lighter font seems to decrease the amount of reflection seen on the device (less of the nighttime window effect) and clarity (less optical color mixing); however, probably not worth the extra effort given current methodology for setting/changing the eBook's font-face.

The Experiment:

Created a PDF document - using Lorem Ipsum to not distract most viewers with the actual content/context of the text.
Used Calibre to convert PDF to LRF - overriding the CSS as per Zelda's post noted above.
Uploaded fonts to PRS 700 (see Zelda's post).
Uploaded eBooks.
Set book in two differing lighting conditions.
Took picture of each eBook - in as similar setting as possible.
Collaged images together in photoshop (no other editing was performed on the images - straight from camera to box - to image file).

The top row of images were taken in my bathroom - consistency of light, and no sunlight. Using a tripod & Canon Rebel XTi.

The bottom row of images were taken outside - overcast at the time - and in as quick succession as possible (to maintain light).

Fonts used: Georgia, Courier New, and Verdana.

Issues/Variables:

The Georgia font which was displayed did not have the signature tail for the capital Q for that font - which makes me wonder if this is really Georgia.

Arial was attempted; however, the line thickness seemed exaggerated/blurred in comparison to the sans-serif (arial/helvetica) font used by the device's menus.

Verdana was used because the device better maintained the line thickness of the font.

The x-height of Georgia is slightly less than that of Verdana or Courier New. Therefore, there are more characters appearing on the Georgia page than the others. (Haven't counted.)

The Serif Baskerville font is decidedly lighter than that of Georgia; therefore, might have similar results as the Verdana. However, the Baskerville I have is not in TTF format (is DFONT) - which seems to be the font-type the device can read (from this initial test anyway).

Cheers,
Josh

ps. Might need to click on the image a few times to get to the large (original download) version.

Click image for larger version

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Last edited by jbruce; 03-11-2009 at 02:48 PM. Reason: added ps
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Old 03-11-2009, 03:17 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zelda_pinwheel View Post
therefore much more easily recognized by the eye while skimming, creating a more legible text
Also when reading normally.

Quote:
computer screens means that finer details are often imperfectly displayed, and fine serifs (like on Times) can give a sort of twinkling effect as they scroll which is distracting
I have read that times was designed to work for news paper printing were the printing equipment is not so good. So Times is suitable for lower resolutions like for example a 300dpi printer.
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Old 03-11-2009, 10:20 PM   #12
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this is Interesting.

I convert every book i put on my reader. it takes 2 minutes. and a book takes days to read. so converting isnt a problem for me

I can defenatly see the difference with Verdana, but that could just be Due to the fact that Verdana is a Larger font.

you mentioned Baskerville, I will try that in a book too and post my own results

Ive already created the Files, im in the middle of a chapter and i used the book im currently reading to test with. will post pictures. and ill use a tripod so no funky angles.

Ive Done Verdana, Geogia, and baskerville.

Last edited by Andybaby; 03-11-2009 at 10:50 PM.
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Old 03-12-2009, 12:28 AM   #13
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Wonderful! Will be nice to see what someone used to doing these finds out. Kinda threw the setup together with regard to the shots looking forward to that as well; however, did use tripod for inside shots.

Some of the books I'm getting are going to be DRMd LRF format; so, I don't think I can convert those? (Also, thinking of this as a general public solution, not just for myself.)

Verdana x-height - agreed. But, the Courier displays similar reflective/blurry characteristics as the Georgia I used - and has a slightly larger x-height than Verdana (but, also slightly larger serif than the Georgia).

I also noticed that some fonts seem to be almost anti-aliased. Arial for instance was very heavy - which is why I used Verdana for this "quickie." However, the m-width for Verdana is wider than that of Arial; so, that might be a good factor to think about as well.

Maybe the reader anti-aliases some fonts when they are books - but not the menu??

Anyway, definitely looking forward to your results.

Cheers,
Josh
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Old 03-12-2009, 09:34 PM   #14
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http://picasaweb.google.com/flushing...FontSelection# <===Follow the Link

The First Image is Georgia, Followed by Baskerville Old Face, Then Verdana all depict the same page. at the Various Font Sizes, the Novel I used was 492 Pages Under Georgia, 440 Pages Under Baskerville, and 564 Pages Under Verdana.

the Font Weight of Baskerville is Just Too Small. the Lines are not dark enough. I find it to be horrible for this device. Upping the Font Size up a notch to make the book 686 pages (up from 440) helps make it more Readable, but still less then Verdana at 564 pages.

Verdana reads very very clear. In Fact, it is the most readable font even at a smaller font size. I would say even when decreasing the font size to 381 pages. it is still more readable then Baskerville at 686. For the Lowest Light Situations, Verdana, based on this Test is the way to go to get the most Readability Out of the reader.

Georgia Remains my favorite though in How it Looks, But I must Admit Verdana would be my first Choice in Readabilty.



If anyone would Like to Suggest a Font, Please Do. I would love to find the Perfect Font.

It is My Conclusion that a Font With a Heavy Line Weight (Bolder), but Large White Space in the lettering would be the most readable. Although, In my Previous Testing, Using a Bold Font VS. the Same Font non Bold, the Non Bold Version was Easier to ready. for that I Used Times, and Georgia to Test. Both Serif Fonts.

Last edited by Andybaby; 03-12-2009 at 09:43 PM.
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Old 03-13-2009, 10:29 AM   #15
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After having my PRS-700 for less than a week, I've already converted a dozen books to a PDF format I designed in InDesign specifically for the reader. I've been a professional web and graphic designer for over 20 years and the reality is that sans-serif fonts are easier to read onscreen, while serif generally works better for print. However, in the last few years, I've started to believe that serif-on-paper has more to do with tradition and what we're accustomed to than any real advantage over sans-serif. Finding an optimal balance between type and white space seems to be the most important factor in readability. I've been using 14-point Myriad Pro for my PDFs, which is a little large, but I can read it easily for long periods without my glasses. It really comes down to what works for the individual.
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