Borkware Miniblog

January 21, 2008

Chunky text in Pages

Filed under: amosxp — Mark Dalrymple @ 6:28 pm

I’ve been using Pages for writing new AMOSXP chapters, and for the most part, it’s a pleasant experience. I’ve just about got the NSOperation chapter put to bed, and was making a PDF to send off to the first round of reviewers, when I noticed the generated PDF output was beyond horrible. Here’s what it looked like on-screen:

Picture 19.png

and here’s what the resulting PDF looked like:

Picture 18.png

Hideous, isn’t it?

Turns out that Pages is honoring the “Turn off text smoothing for font sizes x and smaller” when generating the PDF, and using bitmaps for the smaller font sizes. I have that set to “12 and smaller” because anti-aliasing plus my eye correction conspire to make things difficult to read. Why Pages is using this setting for PDFs is beyond my comprehension (and I hope it’s just a bug – VoodooPad does the RightThing. Filed Radar 5698417). You’d think that PDFs are being made for someone else’s consumption, and so wouldn’t carry along personal preferences like this.


  1. Whoa, I use a 4pt limit in the system-wide setting. How can you stand non-aliased text at 12pt?

    Comment by Chris Ryland — January 21, 2008 @ 6:59 pm

  2. Chris, wait a few years… or decades… and you will know how he can stand it. I say this with the sad sense of inevitability that I got last week from having to put reading glasses on for the first time in order to read some food labels.

    I wish there were named sets of preferences that could be created, like “Render for my 42 year old eyes” and “Render as faithfully as possible, even if it will be illegible to me”. That way we could choose at export time which set to apply.

    Tangentially, I hate that I can’t just create and edit Word docs in Pages but have to save and edit “Pages” files and export them to Word docs. This makes it very inconvenient when having to receive .doc files via email, edit them, and send them back to someone. As bloated as it is, NeoOffice maintains a place in my Application folder because of this.

    Comment by Sean McCune — January 21, 2008 @ 7:46 pm

  3. Thanks! I think this explains crappy invoice output I was getting from Pages, which magically went away when I changed the font.

    Comment by Daniel Jalkut — January 21, 2008 @ 7:57 pm

  4. @Chris :-) I wish I could crank it up higher than 12. My lenses have chromatic aberration, which makes colors appear in the wrong place in my field of vision. anti-aliased text usually gives me a headache, and colorized code is a no-go (oh look, ‘for’ is hovering up into the line above)

    Comment by Mark Dalrymple — January 22, 2008 @ 11:22 am

  5. @Sean: I’m 53 and already using reading glasses, so I’m not claiming superior eyes. ;-) I just can’t stand bitmap jaggies on fonts at any size. In fact, I’m delighted with the Mac’s superior anti-aliasing engine (which preserves overall shape, vs. ClearType, which breaks fonts on Procrustean pixel beds). I’m even happy with the really small type on the NYTimes front page, but perhaps that’s due to my reading glasses.

    @Mark: Sigh, yes, if you have chroma problems with your glasses, I could see how both Mac AA and Cleartype would kill you. Don’t worry, in another 2-3 years we’ll have 200dpi screens and the problem will be solved for good.

    Comment by Chris Ryland — January 24, 2008 @ 1:41 pm

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