Learn Chinese in China
Apollys

Making Chinese Characters Look Good Onscreen

22 posts in this topic

I've been looking all over for a way to somehow change the fonts and/or font sizes of Chinese characters in my web browser to make them more readable, but I've had no luck at all.  I find that characters need to be way bigger than letters to actually display all the strokes clearly, so if I increase the font size or zoom in to read the Chinese characters better, it's going to make everything else look ridiculously disproportional.  Surely I'm not the only one who has this problem, how do you guys read Chinese on your computer?  Just by zooming in and/or reading by the rough shape (I think this is a really bad practice for learning, I want to see every stroke clearly when I am reading)?

 

Interestingly, I have much less problems on my phone, it seems that the method my phone uses to render the characters is much clearer even at small sizes.

 

Ideally I would like to be able to nicely read characters and letters intermingled.  Abracadabra 警察 zebra 臺灣 

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Surely I'm not the only one who has this problem, how do you guys read Chinese on your computer? Just by zooming in and/or reading by the rough shape?

No and yes.

I think this is a really bad practice for learning, I want to see every stroke clearly when I am reading

Depends what your goal is with learning. If your goal is to be able to read Chinese as you'll see it in everyday situations, then this is exactly what you need to be learning to do. Chinese speakers don't read by observing every stroke before deciding what the character is and moving onto the next one - that would be far too time consuming. They recognize overall shapes, combined with context clues from the surrounding text, to quickly make a "best-guess" at what the character is. This best guess is almost always right because they've been practicing this skill all their lives.

Interestingly, I have much less problems on my phone, it seems that the method my phone uses to render the characters is much clearer even at small sizes.

Nothing to do with better rendering capabilities - it's simply that mobile devices tend to have much higher pixel density than desktop monitors.

With that said, it's possible you're having font issues or your computer really doesn't render Chinese text well - would help to post a screenshot.

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There are two key points though when it comes to comparing myself to the average native Chinese speaker.  First is that they're reading content that they're already very familiar with, while I'm reading stuff that's relatively new to me.  Therefore, I need to be a lot more careful.  The second is that I'm not your average English speaker, and I don't plan to be your average Chinese speaker once I get there.  My girlfriend is native from Beijing, spent her whole life there, and she frequently misreads Chinese characters.  Same goes for most people with respect to whatever their native language may be.  But that's not me.  Whatever language I may be using, I will always strive to be as careful, clear, and precise as possible with both my production and my interpretation of the content.

 

Attached is a screenshot of my first post as I see it on my computer's monitor.

 

*An additional point I would like to add: In English, I can control my pace of reading to balance between scrupulousness and speed over a very large range.  I think that the best way to attain this ability is by first learning to read carefully, then learning to accelerate your pace while becoming sloppier (this is a very natural and almost automatic process for many aspects of life).  Consider playing the piano, for instance.  In order to develop the technique to play a piece quickly, one first plays it very slowly and very carefully, then increases the speed from there while attempting to minimize the loss in precision.  I would like to take a similar stance towards reading Chinese, opting to first develop the skill to read very precisely, taking as much time as I require to do so, and letting the speed naturally increase as my skill increases.  I may also occasionally practice reading much faster just to push my limits, but not so often as to damage the integrity of my natural reading technique.

post-67915-0-09855500-1483778400_thumb.png

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Screenshot looks fine, assuming it's been resized down a little bit during upload.

No matter how perfectionistic you want to be with your reading (and it's a prejudice you'll need to get rid of if you intend to succeed with Chinese), you still don't need to identify every stroke. There is no other character that looks like 灣, even at relatively low resolutions.

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... they're reading content that they're already very familiar with, while I'm reading stuff that's relatively new to me...

 

????? what content is this?

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Have you enabled Clear Type? This cleans up fonts and makes the edges sharper. Its in control panel, Fonts.

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Yes I have already (by default I believe), thank you for the suggestion Shelley.

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I use "Ctrl + mouse scroll" to quickly change font size in firefox whenever needed.

Generally the pages I'm ready are either all Chinese or all English.

Only on Chinese-forums or similar websites, will you encounter text that mixes English and Chinese characters.

So I just don't bother looking for a definitive solution to the font size issue...

If you use firefox you can look in settings/content for font options. I've never tried overriding the webpages font sizes though.

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Ctrl+mousewheel also works on Chrome.

 

Just pump up the size. I promise you'll get used to it. 

 

EDIT: 

"I've never tried overriding the webpages font sizes though."

I have, at various times and with various browsers and operating systems. I advise against it. Just pump up the size and keep on studying!

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In most browsers, Ctrl+= increases the font size, Ctrl+- decreases the font size and Ctrl+0 restores the font size to normal.

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my best advice is to use a mac.

it seems like everyone here uses pc... and there are reasons I understand for that, but asian fonts look amazing on macs.

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Nothing to do with better rendering capabilities - it's simply that mobile devices tend to have much higher pixel density than desktop monitors.

My phone is clearly using a different font to display Chinese characters. Granted, maybe it wouldn't look good at lower resolution, but there is more at play here than just a difference in resolution.

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There were always font rendering problems in the past but it must have been improved since then because I have not even thought of this problem for a few years. My preferred font is STKaiti.ttf and it looks perfect in Windows. My monitor at 26" and 1900x1200 is very ordinary these days. I also use this font in pleco and elsewhere on mobile devices and it's perfect there too.

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Hmm, I tried that font.  While it looks nice, the characters are so hard to read, it seems they have to be about twice as big as English letters to see clearly.  I really wish there were a way to make all Chinese characters bigger, or a font that used a larger size for Chinese characters than our basic alphanumeric characters.

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My phone is clearly using a different font to display Chinese characters. Granted, maybe it wouldn't look good at lower resolution, but there is more at play here than just a difference in resolution.

That's still nothing to do with rendering, nor is it to do with resolution.

Font = the set of glyphs used to represent the characters. Typically each glyph is a vector image.

Rendering = how those vector images are translated into raster images, i.e. arrangements of pixels and/or subpixels on the screen

Resolution = total number of pixels on the screen

Pixel density = density of pixels

So basically it's a combination of pixel density and font. Default fonts for mobile devices are more likely to be optimized for mobile displays, but they should do OK on desktop devices too.

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At "normal" font sizes Western people uses, normal computer displays at roughly 96dpi (dots per inch) (roughly that of a 23 inch FHD display) simply do not have enough resolution to display every stroke of Chinese characters without some kind of smoothing (blurring) or simplifying (removal of strokes).  You can see that in the 臺 character where there should be 9 horizontal strokes, which means the glyph must be at least 18 pixels high if the above is not done.

 

Mobile devices tend to have much higher resolution nowadays, for example iPhone 6 is 326dpi, which means more than 11 times (326/96 squared) the pixels in the same area, so of course it'll be much clearer.

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Yeah, that's why I would like to make them bigger! >_<

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Web sites usually only declare one font size for a paragraph, even if it is in mixed languages, so you'll probably need a browser extension to accomplish what you want.  Unfortunately I'm not aware of any such extension (but I have not spent much effort to search).

 

Both Microsoft Word / Libreoffice Writer allow you to select different font sizes for Western and Eastern fonts, so if it is not a lot of material you could copy the text, reformat it and read it there.

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Follow-up, more specific question.  Is there any way to make fonts bigger in WeChat's PC client?

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Much later, finally I have found a solution for my initial problem.

 

The following extension:  替换字体的中文部分为雅黑

 

Still looking for an answer to this though:

On 1/11/2017 at 4:43 AM, Apollys said:

Follow-up, more specific question.  Is there any way to make fonts bigger in WeChat's PC client?

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