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design size

Sami Sozuer (sozueh@edu.rpi) writes:

>3 - I have often found myself wondering whether the
>"design size"  approach has lived out its usefulness.
>This subject is unfortunately somewhat of a taboo and
>I wish people were more forthright about whether
>or not it's meaningful to allocate vast amounts of
>disk space in order to be "faithful" to typesetting
>traditions. It's quite clear to me that, with low
>resolution devices, using a font with the appropriate design size
>(rather than a merely scaled font) improves readability of smaller
>sizes because the interletter spacing is larger so letters don't
>"fuse", the letters are wider and drawn with thicker strokes.
>However, as high resolution devices become more and more
>affordable, and as PostScript fonts gradually replace many of the
>cm fonts, I think it may just be the right time to adopt a single
>design size, 10pt, for all fonts.

The "design size" approach can _never_ live out its usefulness,
because it is based on a human need rather than technological constraints.
At small sizes, using a font with the appropriate design size makes the
font more readable for a human: no matter how high the resolution of the
printing device. We are still limited by the resolution of the human eye
(and for some people, that is unfortunately not very high - why do you
think we have "large print" editions?).
This is also why it is wrong to use 300dpi fonts on a 600dpi printer.
Is disk space really a problem these days? Especially as we now have
pk fonts generated on demand by fast processors (so you only need to store
the fonts and sizes you actually need for current documents). I currently
have about 1.5Meg of tfm's and 3.3Meg of pk files - and I use both cm
and dc fonts in both large sizes (for slides) and small sizes (for twoup
printing). I suspect that Knuth's original minimal set of Almost Modern
pxl fonts required more space than this!

PostScript fonts (or any other scaled font technology) will not replace
CM fonts in any of _my_ documents: readability is more important than
aesthetics even if you could persuade me that your set of PostScript
fonts were more beautiful than the CM fonts.


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