Text options in the K3
This was something I wanted to see, and I thought you might be wondering as well.
Ever since the Kindle 1, the ability to change how the text is displayed has been important…and a bit controversial. We can’t (officially) install our own fonts, and I don’t recommend using the “font hack” that is out there, because it voids your Terms of Service with Amazon (which could be a very bad thing…although I don’t think they normally do anything about it for the hack).
We have, though, been able to change some things. Originally, we had six text sizes we could use…we’re up to eight, now.
I’m not going to show you the text sizes, because, quite simply, my screengrabs (accomplished with Alt+Shift+G) won’t show true for you.
I can, though, show you some of the other options.
This is the basic default for me:
The “typeface” is set on “regular”. Let’s talk about that first. You can think of “typeface” as font, although it isn’t, really. It’s different versions of the same font. A font is basically the shape of the letters, and the shape doesn’t really change here. You can think of it like making your document bold or italic…it’s the same font, but it’s been…warped a bit.
Here’s the same passage (it’s from Alice in Wonderland…a part where she is changing, by the way) with the typeface set on “condensed”:
I think you can tell why some people have been asking for that since the beginning. A “serif” is a little extra line at the extremities of a letter. It makes the writing look fancier and old-fashioned…I’ve always figured that was from pens that would streak the paper as you lifted them off after you finished a letter. “Sans” means without. Look at the “m” in the third word. In the regular font, it looks like the bottom of the m is wearing little shoes. In the “sans serif” they just look like posts. If you have trouble separating one character from another due to visual issues, sans serif is easier…things don’t tend to blend together as much.
Now, let’s take a look at line spacing. That’s how vertical space is between two lines of text…how much room there is from the bottom of one line to the top of the next one. The pictures above have a large amount of space. Again, that will tend to make it easier to read. Let’s take a look at the medium amount:
and with small line spacing:
Look at how close the bottom of the “y” is on the first line with the dot of the “i”. In the “small” setting, it’s quite close…which would make it harder to read, again.
However, if you can read with things close together, you’ll get more words/lines on a “page”. More things on the page, fewer “page turns”, better battery life.
One more option…words per line. What this does is increase the margin, the background spaces to the left and the right of the words. Here’s one with fewer:
and here it is with the “fewest” setting:
I really don’t know why someone would choose to have fewer words per line…the only thing I can think of is if they have really big hands or some sort of gripping device (some people with debilitating conditions, like muscular sclerosis, use those) that obscure the edges of the screen.
A few other notes:
There isn’t a setting here for “justification”. When you set justification in a Word document (for example), you can have the sentences line up with the left side of the screen, the right side of the screen, or both (the last one is just called “justified”, the others are typically called “alignments”. You see legal documents justified some times).
You can also rotate the display to do landscape…but I didn’t think that would show well in these screengrabs.
Finally, there are two formats in which Kindle store books come. The most common one is .azw. These controls should work with those. The other one is the “dreaded Topaz” format…it will have an extension of .tpz (if transferred to your computer and then to your Kindle) or .azw1 (note the one on the end…that’s if you put it on your Kindle wirelessly). It’s called a “dreaded” format because it messes up a lot of things.
Topaz enables the publisher to embed fonts…and you may not be able to work with those like you can with the Kindle’s native font.
I tried it with a Topaz book I had…and did not get the typeface or line spacing options. It’s irritating, but I can understand that…the embedded font (and it does look different) may not have a sans serif option.
More concerning is a report I read on the forum that someone couldn’t change the text size on a Topaz book. That could be a real problem for those with print disabilities.
I do think Amazon could disclose more things on the e-books’ product pages, including:
1. Clipping limit
2. Topaz or not
3. Sample percentage (how much of the book is the sample)
Honestly, I’d be less likely to buy a Topaz book. I had this one because I got it for free. I think it is a consumer information issue…and some people certainly might prefer Topaz editions.
Well, I hope that helps. If you have any other K3 questions, feel free to ask. I’m liking mine…I still find the size too small, but I think I’ll adjust. The weird part was not being sure whether it was in my pocket or not (I have big pockets). I didn’t have that problem with my K1 or K2! I’m getting used to holding it in a way so part of my thumb doesn’t hang off the edge…that’s just scary, somehow. My SO (Significant Other) calls it “muffin thumb”.
For more information on doing “screengrabs”, see this previous post.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.