I noticed that if I compare the same font-family and font-size from other applications to GIMP, the output is different.

In the image below, on the left is 8pt Microsoft Sans Serif rendered in Word and Firefox. On the right is the same size and font rendered by GIMP's text tool (note: anti-aliasing is off).

Not even close

  1. Why is this happening? It's not even close to the same size. If I up the font size in GIMP (to about 12), the size matches, the the glyphs and spacing do not
  2. Is it normal/expected for different applications to render the same font differently?
  3. Is it normal/expected for the same font to be rendered differently on different operating systems?
  • 1
    What is the document resolution?
    – joojaa
    Nov 11 '15 at 16:40

This is the text at 8pt, in an image with 96ppi (the common default setting for screen ppi in Windows platforms, the dependency on that has already been mentioned in another answer):

"template", Microsoft Sans Serif 8t @ 96ppi

Looks pretty close to your examples - there are differences of one pixel at most - and that is for the scaled/zoomed versions, we'd have to compare the original sizes.

  • Oh my god--I feel foolish now. Looking at your screenshot, I couldn't figure out why for the life of me it looked different. Then I realized that the font size in GIMP was defaulting to px instead of pt! Changing that solved my problem. Talk about a facepalm moment. Nov 17 '15 at 12:36
  • I marked this as the answer because it pointed me in the right direction regarding the 96ppi. Nov 17 '15 at 12:39
  • The common formula for Microsoft DirectWrite "device independant pixels" (DP), and I think CSS is pt divided by 72 times 96 = px
    – Yorik
    Nov 17 '15 at 22:20

This is caused by the pixel dimensions of the image in GIMP vs. Word, and the DPI setting which affects point size calculations.

When you work with a Word document, the document is rendered at a pixel size that simulates something probably close to 300dpi, and then it is downsampled (etc) for display at the display resolution.

So if you want to compare Word text rendering to GIMP, you need to ensure that your are working with the same "grid size." To experiment, create a document in GIMP that is 2550px x 3300px (that is: US letter @ 300ppi).

You will probably find the 8pt text renders very close to Word (with anti-aliasing ON unlike your example; Word is at right):

enter image description here

Here is a sample of text 8pt in a 400px @ 72dpi document with an inset 500% zoom (with anti-aliasing off as you have in your example):

enter image description here

Remember that points are a unit defined by their relation to inches (real-world unit of measure). In Photoshop at least, if you set type and then alter the DPI flag in the file without resampling, the point size of the type is recalculated.


If I recall correctly, this could be due to anti-aliasing settings of the render. Haven't used GIMP in a while but I do remember this being an issue.

Fonts can be rendered differently depending on what the default settings are for that program, especially design programs.

  • 1
    Anti-aliasing is off in the image in my question. This issue occurs with it enabled or disabled--the size of the font is what is most significantly different. Nov 11 '15 at 16:17

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