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My last questions on subtitling, I promise - Which is not unduly obvious, as I am about to explain
My last questions on subtitling, I promise
Thanks everyone for doing the poll in my earlier post! At first, I avoided looking at the results. Instead I experimented with the different fonts, overlaying them onto video images and scaling them to roughly the same size. Then I looked at all the combinations and narrowed it down to six. Then I noticed that only two of the remaining fonts bothered to make capital-i look different than lower-case-L. And guess what? You guys gave the most votes to those two fonts: Tahoma and Verdana!

So here are my final questions to you, for narrowing it down to the winner.

Here's how my word processor treats the two fonts, and my observations:

Verdana: Shorter, which takes up less space on the screen, but I don't know if that shortness makes it harder for the brain to make out certain letters as fast. Good kerning (spacing between the letters).
Tahoma: Taller. The letters are slightly thicker. Kerning is tight. The rounded parts of b, d, p and q are much fatter.

Here are two visual comparisons (Verdana, then Tahoma). For the first case, I deliberately chose a place where the background was very light. Note the "ff" kerning in the second case. Which do you prefer?

(Personally, I love the height and width of Tahoma - but I hate the kerning and the bulbousness.)

My second question is more aesthetic. The one thing I don't especially like in these fonts are the apostrophes and quotation marks. Do you think I should use the straight or angled marks?

My last question has to do with the thickness of the black borders around the letters. In the above examples, the thickness is set to "1". Here's what happens when it's set to "2":

Like? Dislike? Personally, I don't like it as much. The real question should be a practical one: I should try and view the two thicknesses on an actual television screen to see if they're too thin or too blurry. Ironically, my two local friends who have their computers hooked up to their television sets are both away on trips at the moment! Oh well, I'll just have to wait until they get back.

Either way, let me know what you think! (And thanks for taking the trouble if you do!)
3 comments or Leave a comment
plonq From: plonq Date: April 7th, 2006 01:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I find the Veranda font much easier to read. It has better kerning than the Tahoma font, and I find it a much faster read. The individual letters in the Tahoma font are a bit more clear, but the words jump out more readily in the Veranda font.

Really, I would not discount a font just because the "ol" pair could be mistaken for "d" in some situations, or because the "I" and "l" look very similar. The brain is a wonderful device, and it is very good at filling in the right word based on context. Serif or no, few people are going to mistake "Welcome to the fold" for "Welcome to the foId".
plonq From: plonq Date: April 7th, 2006 01:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
... and I completely skipped your second and third questions.

I prefer the angled marks, but that's just my personal preference. It's not the kind of thing that I even notice when I'm reading unless somebody specifically points it out to me.

As to the thickness of the border, go with 1 rather than 2. The thicker fonts are running into each other - especially the Tahoma font in the bottom example. On an NTSC display those are going to bleed all over each other, likely making it harder, rather than easier to read IMO.
niall_ From: niall_ Date: April 7th, 2006 03:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Verdana, definitely. It's far more legible in large amounts of text than Tahoma, because it's not as high - letters start looking on stilts. You need, alas, the breadth and width to read quickly from left to right. Although this does limit you to a few letters less per line of subtitling than Tahoma would allow, the increased legibility should certainly help.

And I prefer straight quotes, as they do their job without taking unnecessary letter space which is now at a premium...

Thinner lines, though if there's one particular scene where for one line of text it would fade int eh background, you could always use thickness 2 there.
3 comments or Leave a comment