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Responsive Typography by Jason Pamental

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Chapter 2. Progressive Progress

Every good relationship starts with honest dialogue. So let’s be truthful. Type (until very recently) was never intended for viewing on a computer screen. It was designed to be printed. Usually by inking metal and transferring it to paper. There is no such thing as “paper resolution” or “ink aliasing.” In order to reproduce forms of letters as clearly and cleanly as ink on paper, a few, shall we say, quirks had to be overcome. As in life, all is not black and white when drawing letters on the screen. It is full of shades of gray—at least when it’s done well. Those shades of gray (well, technically red, green, and blue) among the black help smooth edges so our eyes see a smooth curve rather than a blocky jagged edge. Over time, resolutions have become higher, screens crisper, and screen refreshes faster, but the basic problem hasn’t changed. The eye must be fooled in order to make the reading experience anything like that of ink on paper.

As I’ve described, some issues exist that cause fonts to display slightly differently on one platform versus another. Resolution, sharpness, and density of pixels (the actual dots of color on the screen) all come into play, and they vary widely from one device to the next. But beyond that is actually how the fonts are drawn by the operating system on the screen in the first place. Mac and Windows have always had their differences (that’s an understatement), even on something as fundamental as the number of pixels per ...

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