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More on SCREEN FONTS: Antialiasing | Bitmap Fonts

Bitmap fonts are built out of the pixels (picture elements) that structure a screen display. Whereas a PostScript letter consists of a vectorized outline, a bitmap character contains a fixed number of rectilinear units that are either "on" or "off." Outline fonts are scalable , meaning that they can be reproduced in a high-resolution medium such as print at nearly any size. Outline fonts are often hard to read on screen at small sizes, however, where all characters are translated into pixels. (Anti-aliasing can make legibility even worse for small text.)


In a bitmap font, the pixels do not melt away as the letters get bigger. Some designers like to exploit this effect, which calls attention to the letters' digital geometry. Pixel fonts are widely used in both print and digital media. A bitmap font is designed to be used on screen at a specific size, such as 8 pixels, because its body is precisely constructed out of screen units. A bitmap font should be displayed on screen in even multiples of its root size (enlarge 8-px type to 16, 24, 32, and so on).