Ugly Text

Tim ignored_mailbox at
Thu Aug 12 02:02:45 UTC 2010

On Wed, 2010-08-11 at 13:46 -0700, Jonathan Ryshpan wrote:
> Text to be printed by Firefox has disastrously bad text layout, and has
> had bad layout for years.  An example is attached.  The only way to get
> text well laid out is to copy it into a word processor (I use Open
> Office) and to print it out from there.

I can't say that I've noticed it being that terrible.  Most browsers are
rather poor at printing, and Firefox actually seemed a bit better.  Of
course it doesn't help that most pages were constructed for some stupid
fixed layout on the screen, that doesn't really translate to paper
(portrait versus landscape orientation, etc.).

Usually, there's two problems:

1. The author is trying to specify a layout like a magazine using a
technology (HTML) that's not meant for it.  And often, choosing a layout
that looks like a 9 year old designed it.  Not to mention that the page
is often constructed with badly broken HTML.

2. The author is specifying fonts that you do not have, and your system
is using poor substitutions.

Fixing the first problem tends to involve doing what you've done (use
something else to fix up the page).  Fixing the second one can be as
simple as installing more fonts.  I've tried installing the Microsoft
fonts, in the past, and that hasn't always been a good idea.  Some of
them just look bad.  

More recently, I went with installing the Liberation fonts.  They're
designed as replacements for the Microsoft fonts, having the same
metrics as them (so they fit the space), but not being identical in
looks (so they don't look crap).

That tends to make most pages look good.  Or, at least, better, since
the fonts designed for low resolution screens are different than those
designed to look good on high resolution printers.  Printing screen
fonts often looks like everything's been done in bold type.

[tim at localhost ~]$ uname -r

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