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Why are Bitmap-Fonts used automatically?

When I look at the output of my LaTeX files, the fonts appear markedly more blurry than standard computer output.

Why is this? Is this because the text is designed to be printed on an actual page? Is there some reason that the fuzzy font that comes with Latex is more desirable? Could someone point me to a link that would explain this?

I have to believe that this is intentional, but I can not figure out the reason.

marked as duplicate by Martin Schröder, lockstep, egreg, Thorsten, Mensch Jan 15 '13 at 17:57

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  • 3
    The fonts might be rasterized too. – percusse Dec 25 '12 at 16:02
  • 7
    You are using T3 fonts? If you are using MiKTeX, chances are that you don't have T1 CM fonts. Load packages lmodern or other font change packages (fourier, mathdesign, txfonts, etc). – Siyuan Ren Dec 25 '12 at 16:35

When I first started using LaTeX, this was the first thing I noticed. I believe there are several factors contributing to this:

Font format

Font formats have many variations (eg: OpenType, Type 1). The main difference is between bitmap (raster) fonts, vector (outline) fonts and stroke fonts. Bitmap fonts don't scale well and will look pixelated or blurry (depending on things like anti-aliasing) when scaled. LaTeX likes vector fonts best (especially Postscript fonts), and most formats you’ll use will be vector fonts. Type 1, Type 3, TrueType and OpenType are all formats for outline fonts and can be used with LaTeX.

Font renderer

In my experience there is always a difference in font rendering between programs and operating systems. Let's compare some text in Linux Libertine as rendered by several programs:


As you can see the rendering is slightly different for each program. This depends on several factors (the resolution settings for each program for example, this was with a DPI of 101 pixels/inch).

The rendering engines are different between each program and each computer, which can result in fuzzy or pixelated fonts. For example, some time ago I compared the (default) CJK font rendering in Windows 7 and Mac OSX:

CJK rendering

Your preference

In the end, ‘fuzzyness’ is determined by what you like. Some people dislike the ‘fuzzyness’ of Mac OS X, others prefer it and think other fonts look pixelated. It’s important to note you can change your system preferences to suit your needs.


For some more information on how fonts are displayed, see the following pages on Wikipedia:

  • Thank you very much for your comment. It helps.Because of a problem in Ubuntu caused by trying to install LaTeX packages, I was forced to go back to Windows just today. I was amazed at how much clearer the fonts for my document appeared in Windows than in Ubuntu. So it is interesting that your comment should arrive today. You can really see the issue clearly in your screenshot of Windows 7 vs. Mac OS X. – Paul Jan 15 '13 at 15:03

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