Font Rasterization on E-Readers

Lukas HornLukas Horn Posts: 14
edited May 2019 in Font Technology


Does anyone of you have nearer Information about the rasterization of type on different e-readers? My only clou is, that kindle uses iType from Monotype but that doesn’t say anything about the rasterization in and of itself. (Apple B&W, Apple Greyscale, Freetype B&W, Freetype Greyscale,  MS B&W, MS Greyscale – maybe for the E-Ink series?)

If you would design a typeface for e-readers, what kind of hinting would you concentrate on to get a nice and smooth result?

Has anyone of you ever done a type project for this kind of device who could say more about it?

Is there a good workflow you would recommend (working with Glyphs or with Fontlab etc.)?

I’m working on this subject for my bachelor thesis and I would be grateful for any information. The typeface I design should be suited for the e-ink display devices with a low resolution (something between greyscale and B&W) and also for the e readers with color screens. 

Thanks a lot!



  • Viktor RubenkoViktor Rubenko Posts: 119
    edited May 2019
    Indeed, this is a very interesting question.
    The problem is that each company uses its own software with its own settings and availability of font formats, so the difference in displaying fonts may depend not only on the brand, but also on the models of one device or system firmware.
    It seems to me that it is impossible to make the perfect font for all e-books at the same time. It is necessary to proceed from the needs of the customer, who can give a certain technical task for their devices.
  • I was just worrying about the same question recently. One of my current typeface projects (Ysabeau) is aimed at body copy, in particular in electronic media, and so I've been test-reading it on my Kindle. It worked really well, so far, except for some baseline inconsistency in the bold. I've switched to TTF fonts in the meantime, and that solved the problem. Looks like Glyphs' autohinter does a good job there.
  • Viktor RubenkoViktor Rubenko Posts: 119
    edited May 2019
    Looks like Glyphs' autohinter does a good job there.
    What is actually ttfautohint library embedded in Glyphs.
  • Jens KutilekJens Kutilek Posts: 316
    I have a Tolino e-reader and use my own OTF font on it. I noticed that the PostScript hinting settings do have a visible influence on the rendering. I suspect it is using the FreeType rasterizer.

    Most e-readers have a screenshot function, so you can compare differently hinted versions of a font, and take screenshots to overlay them on the computer which makes it easier to spot changes.
  • Jens KutilekJens Kutilek Posts: 316
    The Kindle is using the Bookerly fonts designed by Dalton Maag. If you can get your hands on the fonts, you will noticed that they are completely unhinted TTFs, so the Kindle must be using some kind of autohinting while displaying the fonts, like macOS does.

    Google Play Books also uses a custom font, Literata by TypeTogether. The fonts are on Github though I don't know if it is the same version as used in Play Books. The fonts are also unhinted TTFs.
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