I was looking for a solution to the .otf rendering issue Illustrator and InDesign have, they render fonts very poorly (until the saved & rendered picture) but for viewing means during the design process is very unpleasant.

Apparently Photoshop does not have this issue, perhaps because they have different rendering choices from Crisp to Strong.

I couldn't find non-.otf version for these fonts so I'm stuck with these file formats.

Here's a screenshot from inside Illustrator, demonstrating .otf render quality in comparison with .tff:

First two rows are .otf and last row is .ttf.

.otf and .tff font rendering comparison

I noticed that these software render .otf fonts just fine in larger font size, ~36px and up. It's still an issue for smaller font size.

Here's an exported PNG of this image:

.tff and .otf comparison after image export in .PGN All texts look rendered properly, at least close enough.

I made this thread because it's still problematic, despite that font will come out as normal only after exporting as image, so I'm hoping to find a solution.

  • 1
    You have the same antialiasing options in the illustrator as photoshop its just hidden under the type panel. Anyway what you are complaining is called hinting which is a property of the font itself. Some fonts especially in google foundry are in fact hinted badly. The reason why you export does not show you this is because your doing a art optimized export. Its not a OTF vs TTF issue you can make a TTF file as screwed up if you like.... Only roboto is well hinted. OTF roboto would work as fine.
    – joojaa
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 7:14
  • I tried different hinting settings, and sadly, they did not make any difference. Interesting how you mentioned that some fonts from Google are hinted badly but in my example, premium fonts are only fonts that are badly hinted. Could be just a coincidence.
    – dmxt
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 2:33
  • They are optimized for web use. If you clear hinting and auto remake it than it reverts to working again even if the file is otf, but only ln a windows computer. See hinting can be done in many ways. Its not really broken for intended use. Just this use.
    – joojaa
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 6:09

2 Answers 2


I think this is a case of "can't see the forrest because of all the trees."

Most working files.... InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, GIMP, Inkscape, or anything else.. will sacrifice some anti-aliasing and sub-pixel rendering for the ability to edit the content. It's only upon output that the app can "bake in" any such visual helpers. Which is why things appear better in a single raster image as opposed to a layered, stacked, working file.

It's a lot like 3D in that you wireframe construction.. then render. The output is the rendering, everything else is still the wireframe.

Believe it or not, there was a time when Illustrator would not allow you to work in "preview mode" and you had to work in Outline mode and only toggle preview on and off to see what things looked like.

And there was a time when Photoshop had no layers so everything you did had to be carefully planned because it was "rendered" as soon as you created it.

Applications aren't perfect.... and displays now play a large part of how good (or bad) things look while constructing a file. Obviously a 5K monitor is going to help in some respects. But there still needs to be a little room for visual discrepancies while constructing a file before output. Unless you want to do away with all editing abilities.

If you need absolute pixel perfect files, then neither Illustrator nor InDesign are appropriate since they have no ability to edit a single pixel anywhere.

And the .otf format isn't so much a format as a "wrapper". You can easily have a ttf font inside the otf format wrapper.


Metis covered it with a fairly thorough answer, but this may help you a bit if you haven't yet tried to change your Display Performance in InDesign

  • Windows: Edit → Preferences → Display Performance
  • Mac: Preferences → Display Performance

High Quality will show you a nicer rendering of the content you're working with, but with more than a few elements on the page, InDesign will start to move pretty slowly. Not really recommended that you work in that mode.

  • For now I use High or Medium, I don't work with a lot of vectors since I work on logo design instead of actual illustration. Thanks!
    – dmxt
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 17:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.