The Key to Printing 19th Century Modern Serif Fonts

Use the highest resolution you can. Do not trust the defaults at a print shop to be reasonable. Do not trust the defaults for your software’s PDF generator to be reasonable.

Both defaults might well be reasonable for most of the fonts popular with contemporary tastes in typography, but the fonts popular in the 19th century were crafted in part to show off how the ink and paper technology of the day had progressed to the point where the fine details they employ were possible.

I found that when using Monotype Modern, the thin parts of the strokes showed up so poorly with 10 point body text at the default printer resolution, that the readability of the resulting text was seriously compromised. This might be part of the reason why such fonts have a bad reputation for readability: modern print technology can fail them.

Do everything at the highest resolution possible. An output of 1200 DPI is the bare minimum, with 2400 DPI being better (letterpress printing with hot type had an effective resolution of around 2000 DPI). By “1200 DPI” I mean 1200 DPI in both axes, on a black and white printer. (Color printing uses clusters of 4 dots, and printer makers use weasel wording to flatter their products, so a “2400 DPI” color printer has only the resolution of  600 DPI black-and-white one.)

Using the highest resolution the printer can print should not typically cost more; most shops charge the same per-page fee whether you tell their laser printer to print at a degraded resolution or its best resolution. If you can’t even get 1200 DPI, take your business elsewhere; the shop you are using has substandard technology.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.