Crisp Text Display

Kaspar commented on my post Office Adopts New Windows Display Technology “I always wondered why the text in OneNote 2013 looks so much better than Word 2013.” Curious, I typed some math into Word and OneNote on my 3200 x 1800 resolution Samsung ATIV laptop and compared them. The two displays looked pretty similar! For finer examination, I ran the zoomin.exe applet and looked at the pixels of a math italic b in the equation

The character stems in Word were black with varying shades of gray pixels on the edges, while the stems in OneNote had varying hues of colored pixels on the edges as you see here


Comments (9)
  1. Kasper says:

    I think many people don't really care about things like this, but some people like me, just want to have their math looks as sharp and clear as possible.

    For example, I would never use chrome's pdf reader, because the math doesn't look as sharp as in the pdf reader of adobe.

    I never use chrome, because mathjax looks much clearer in firefox and IE, thanks to directwrite (or cleartype), I guess.

    In this screenshot, you see word 2013 on the left, and onenote 2013 on the right. That is a big difference isn't it ? I would love to have an option, to turn on directwrite or cleartype when I use word 2013. I mean, most people don't have 3200 x 1800 screens yet.

    Even, if I zoom in (250%), which I think would give me an idea how it would look on a high resolution screen, I would choose onenote 2013, at any moment:

    If you look at this "i" or this "j", then it really looks as if there is something seriously wrong with the text rendering in word 2013. compared to onenote 2013.

  2. Jamie Youngblood says:

    Please add a ClearType option back to Office 2013!

    You mention animation performance, but that is a hardware problem–and a much cheaper one to solve than switching to 300ppi displays (which also taxes system resources!). If performance is really that bad on cheap video cards, add an option to reduce/eliminate the animations.

    "You can alleviate the problem by running the ClearType tuner, since it can tune the greyscale output as well as ClearType’s colored output."

    IMO, this is pointless. Subpixel rendering on a typical LCD effectively triples your resolution when rendering black/white text, but you need to tell the OS about RGB orientation, etc. That was the whole point of ClearType in the first place! Unless you are doing subpixel rendering, a pixel is a pixel. You can change how thick you like your aliasing, but it won't fix anything.

    In the end, I tried to follow your advice and bought a Dell UP3214Q because the poor font rendering in Word and Outlook 2013 made my low PPI monitor unusable. But even this $2k UHD display is "only" 140PPI, and so the grayscale AA fonts still look bad. At my typical viewing distances (24-36"), the Dell is 'retina' in Chrome 37 but not in Office 2013. It's actually shocking when you switch from working in Word to browsing in Chrome.

  3. MurrayS3 says:

    Thanks for the feedback. I'll pass it along

  4. Brennzu says:

    Kasper: Chrome now has DirectWrite as well AFAIK. ☺

  5. unhappy Office 2013 user says:

    Please bring back ClearType in Office 2013

  6. chaircat says:

    Glad I read this post.  No way I'll upgrade in that case. I need to be able to rad/write/edit documents for many hours a day.  I'm in a field where content matters, not the color of the virtual paper.

    Looks like what Office needs is a word processing program!

  7. João Paulo says:

    I'm glad I use LibreOffice and Word 2010, because they use the subpixel rendering Word 2013 doesn't have.

    If subpixel rendering taxes the hardware, why not put it as an option to reenable it? Via service pack, maybe? This way, we can try the best option without having to buy extra (and expensive) hardware.

    Off-topic: I like Word 2013 interface against Word 2010 (used the trial edition), very smooth, but still lacks true OpenDocument Format support, as it doesn't open the Flat variants (pure xml not packaged on a zip container). Also Word could have page styles, as LibreOffice Writer does, it would ease the formatting of documents intended for online and offline reading when exported to PDF.

  8. Joshua Lackey says:

    The grayscale-only antialiasing used by Word 2013 looks terrible on a large LCD low-dpi displays that many users still have and won't upgrade for some time. At the very least, you could expose the option to render with ClearType (colored subpixel antialiasing) to users through the options menu. In Word 2013, I see under File > Options > Advanced > Display that there are several settings that related to rendering. I'm not sure why "Use ClearType for font smoothing" couldn't have been added there.

    Ironically, the actual options dialog renders fonts with ClearType, as well as certain controls, like the combo box for font selection. You can clearly see in this image:

  9. tahrey says:

    Are you seriously telling me that 2010s level hardware can’t efficiently deal with what is essentially triple-buffering a font / glyph smoothing task which at its original introduction didn’t even significantly tax a double-digit-Mhz Pentium? Just how unnecessarily complex are these “animations” that you’ve added to a WORD PROCESSOR that the act of changing the colour of the background upon which a triple pass of antialiased drawing takes place (something which Flash never seemed to be too bothered about doing with shapes of different colours passing over each other in a browser, and 3D game engines do many thousands of examples of with each and every frame), or of picking triple-width rather than single-width (when generally only drawing one glyph, or no more than one line of them at a time, and only very rarely a full screen all at once, with scrolling otherwise being nothing more than a simple blit) causes so much slowdown that you’re worried about a flood of user complaints about the application response appearing “choppy”?

    Would you like to borrow the 486SX/25 lurking under my coffee table for retro gaming purposes in order to study how the sam hill your early 1990s predecessors managed to make the Windows 3.1 version of Word not only run efficiently and with little to no noticeable keyboard lag in most situations, on a machine with 4mb of RAM, an ISA bus, half-meg graphics card and no FPU, but also load faster from that 170mb PIO-controlled hard drive than modern Word often does from an SSD on a machine with ONE THOUSAND TIMES more memory and easily a thousand times the MIPS? I’m willing to sacrifice the secret voodoo codes contained upon that disc for the good of all future MS Office users…

    (Seriously, can’t you use GPU rendering or something? Is it really likely that the drawing of a 12-point Calibri “W”, after a user presses shift-w, will be slowed down enough to be noticed – IE, if we assume the computer is being used by the Flash, with the refresh rate set to 120hz, the task taking more than about 8.3 milliseconds, or 8.3 million clock cycles per each superscalar core of a processor running at a modest 1Ghz – by it rendering across 48×16 logical greyscale pixels instead of 16×16 greyscale, or more likely truecolour ones? And have user-selectable display options really gone so far out of style after the amazingly individualistic riot that was Windows 98 SE Plus?)

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