Hinting: TrueType Autohinting

by Rainer Erich Scheichelbauer

7 August 2017

What is hinting?

One popular myth amongst type designers is that hinting was about ‘preserving your shapes on the screen’. The opposite is true. Hinting does not preserve your shapes, it distorts them so they better fit the pixel grid of your output device, which is not necessarily a screen. The distortion is more the lower the resolution of your output device is. Usually that will be the screen. But it can be effective up to and beyond a size of 80 pixels, which is equivalent to a font size of 19 points on a 300 dpi printer.

Plus, hinting only works if your type design fulfils certain requirements. Hinting only really makes sense if your font is intended for legibility at small sizes and as ‘normal’ a design as possible. In other words, if legibility is more important than shape precision. Display fonts, cursive script fonts, grunge fonts, icon fonts and the like are better off without hinting.

And your paths need to have extremum points and have consistent design features, like similar heights and overshoots, stem widths as consistent as possible, etc.

So ask yourself: does your design need hinting at all? And if yes, do its paths support hinting? If your answer is yes, keep on reading.

TTF Autohint Quick Setup

TTF Autohint Options

Testing in Word on a PC

For testing your hinting results, you will need Windows.

Control Instructions


Useful scripts and plug-ins