Jagged Font Rendering - Windows

I noticed on windows applications that the fonts used for labels, etc. appear jagged, rather than smooth, as if anti-aliasing is turned off. I turned UseGDI on but this does not appear to make a difference.


I noticed that UseGDI does make lines in graphics appear smooth but has no impact on how fonts such as labels are rendered.

For example if you create a new app, drop a label on the screen with an arial font at 44 size, anything that has an arc such as o’s and e’s are very jagged and do not appear to be antialiased. This looks unprofessional.

What am I missing here…?

From what I can see, the display is the same in Word or Paint. And I did verify that Cleartype was on. It seems the antialiasing works only for small text sizes.

I also tried displaying the text in a Canvas but it is the same. The limitation seems tied to the Windows system.

The only improvement of sort I was able to obtain is in Photoshop, where antialiasing seems active at that point size. So one could eventually prepare graphics and display them in canvases, as a workaround.


Thanks for your reply. This is interesting, if I do the same in Word it appears nice and smooth. I also notice large fonts render perfectly on web pages and other apps (both classic and store apps). I am using Windows 8 but this situation is also present in Windows 7 with apps built with Xojo.

If you look at how large text is rendered in windows store apps it is beautiful. Even in classic apps it looks good.

We must be missing something…

See here: - Xojo (look at the “agg”)
See Here: -Word

The Word example is at a much larger size. Apparently something like 60 points. That would improve the rendition.

When I look at your pictures enlarged in Photoshop, I see the same kind of anti aliasing on the edges or o and W.

From what I see up close, the anti aliasing looks very similar. Maybe the effect is due to a different contrast, and also that the larger the font the less pronounced the jaggies ?


I really do not see which technique would produce better results, short of having a screen with a higher dot per inch resolution, such as a Retina Screen on Mac or 5K on Windows.

Looking at the composite from the two pictures, the Word sample is a about twice the point size of the Xojo label. That would create the same impression as a screen with twice the resolution. IT makes sense that it looks less jagged.

Here is a last experiment I did. I made a picture with the same text at point 60, and at point 44. It does look less jagged at 60.

But then, I applied a 0.5 point gaussian blur to the text below. In effect I increased the level of antialiasing. And the result on the jaggies is spectacular. I believe that what may be going on in some Windows Store apps.


It seems what Windows Store/Metro apps are doing is indeed to add maybe one pixel antialiasing :

Or, it is possible the particular design of Segoe UI which is the font used, renders better. In particular, the “a” is much better designed to minimize the jaggies than the one in Arial, particularly ugly.

:slight_smile: The unaliased text looks better to me. (Ducks and runs away)
I look at the other one and wonder where my glasses are…

[quote=160946:@Jeff Tullin]:slight_smile: The unaliased text looks better to me. (Ducks and runs away)
I look at the other one and wonder where my glasses are…[/quote]

I agree, it is a bit much. The issue here is to be able to add a bit of blur to the antialias, so jaggies get less pronounced. It is only an experiment.

The issue comes truly from the 72 dpi screens which are pitifully pixellated. Modern fonts use vector based technology, with a practical infinite resolution. But showing a character that has been designed in a 1000 x 1000 grid into an 8x8 grid for size 12 or some like 60x60 is a pure butchery. I do not think besides applying tricks like colored pixels now and there as do anti alias is sufficient to lure the eye into believing a set of stairs is anywhere near a straight line.

The only viable solution is to increase the number of pixels, as do Retina 144 dpi (MBP) and 216 dpi screens (iphone 6), or Windows 5K screens. When you compare with the crudest printer output of 600 dpi, screen technology has a long way to go before it can pretend to offer true typography.

My latest post shows, however, shows the Segoe UI Microsoft font design alleviates somehow the pixelated effect.


Thank you for your input and experimentation on this issue. It is very interesting.