q’d Up

Wednesday, April 16th, 2003 @ 11:58 pm | Mac

Update: I’m updating this at the top because it looks like my whole argument/thesis is wrong. I was seeing this issue with regularity before, but Lee’s comment inspired me to check one last time. Of course, “q” now looks fine.

I’m going to keep my eyes open for this sort of thing in the future. Maybe something’s triggering this behavior.

Proving I’m not afraid to make a fool of myself in front of everybody, I’ll leave this posted. Wouldn’t want to be guilt of any Soviet-style revisionist history here at raoli.com. We now return you to your regularly scheduled, but inaccurate, broadcast.

Safari apparently has some issues with the letter “q” when you’re using the default font settings of 16 point Times. Check out these screen shots of a recent MacMinute headline.

First, Safari:

Safari misrendering the letter "q."

Now, Camino:

Camino properly rendering the letter "q."

For some reason, whenever Safari encounters the letter “q” with the default font settings, it renders the letter like it’s followed by a space. I first noticed this on the Boston Globe web site and thought it was a problem with the way they generated HTML from their articles. Then I started noticing it on other sites and realized that it happens whenever “q” appears.

On a whim, I fired up Camino to confirm my suspicions. As you can see, the pages render as expected. Camino has significantly less space between the lines.

Changing the font size or style fixes the issues. Since 16 point Times works fine in Camino and other font-size combinations work fine in Safari, I’m really at a loss as to why this is happening.

This might be somewhat understandable if I was using some really strange font at an odd font size. However, Times is bundled with OS X and 16 point Times is Safari’s default font setting. It’s really annoying to read a web page and have words broken up like this.

I tried using Times New Roman as my font, but I just didn’t like the way it looked compares to Times — Times New Roman seems slightly smaller, has less space between the lines, and there are visible differences in italicized text. However, it’s not quite as tightly packed as Camino’s rendering of Times.

MacMinute rendered with 16 point Times New Roman.

Right now, I’m following Michael’s advice and trying Verdana. If I go much above 13 points, though, the text seems way to large. Unfortunately, at 13 points, smaller text falls below the threshold for anti-aliasing and certain characters, like the “W” in the

3 Responses to “q’d Up”

  1. Lee Bennett Says:

    Uhmmm, Safari public beta 2 here, Times New Roman 16 point, and spacing looks normal. Methinks it’s a personal problem.

  2. Michael Tsai Says:

    Well, you change the threshold…

  3. Eric Says:

    Threshold for anti-aliasing? I suppose I could have tried that, but I’m concerned that the resulting small anti-aliased text might be too hard to read. Yes, I want to have my cake and eat it too.

    Apparently, this is all a moot point since “q” now renders properly. I’ve switched back to Times 16 since it seems to provide both a decent font for pages that don’t specify a typeface and a decent baseline size for those that use relative font sizing.