[Story]What font is best for reading e-books?

Creating Ridi Batang Font for Enhanced Clarity and Readability

Development Background and e-book environment of Ridi Batang

At a time when e-books were being served by various companies both domestically and internationally, RIDI, a content platform company, decided to create an e-book-specific font. There were cases abroad where e-book-specific Latin fonts were developed. At that time, RIDI was expanding its services mainly in Korea, so planning an e-book-specific ‘Hangul font’ was a natural progression. However, there were many expectations for being the first to develop a Hangul font in this field.

In RIDI's e-book reader, RIDI PAPER, Kopub Batang was used as the default font. Kopub Batang is a font with a beautiful background that was developed to advance the publishing industry and is freely available for anyone to use. However, there were some readability issues in the e-book environment, and it was hoped that a good font could be developed to improve this. This was the start of this project.

Initial Exploration

We began the initial exploration of the project by examining Sandoll Myungjo Neo1 and Sandoll Jeongche. Both fonts were designed with the main body of text in mind and shared the common characteristic of being Myungjo fonts. Myungjo fonts are known for their ability to comfortably read large amounts of text and are used in many books such as novels and essays. Also, since Kopub Batang, which had been used in RIDI PAPER, was also a Myungjo font, it naturally led to the direction of developing a new e-book-specific font in the Myungjo style.

We first looked at Sandoll Myungjo Neo1, a font that immediately comes to mind when talking about Myungjo fonts. It is widely used, and RIDI was also exploring for a smooth and comfortable font at the time. Therefore, Sandoll Jeongche, which was under development at the time, was also examined. Sandoll Jeongche was a font that matched RIDI's exploration direction. However, since the font had not yet been released, the process was carried out discreetly.

RIDI and Sandoll discussed customization directions while analyzing the two fonts. However, since neither font was specifically designed for use in e-books, there were some shortcomings. It was determined that there were limitations to development at the customization level, and the discussion shifted towards developing a dedicated font.

Full-fledged Exploration  

After the initial exploration, Ridi and Sandoll engaged in even more discussions. Starting with the project kickoff, Sandol began researching in earnest. They examined Latin fonts used in e-books developed and used overseas, as well as serif fonts and body Korean fonts, sharing their findings with Ridi. Through this process, they broadly defined three directions for the future design:

   1.Exploring a direction that reaches the basic level of serif fonts used in both paper and e-books.

   2.Focusing on a direction that provides a comfortable reading experience by emphasizing soft images.

   3.Exploring a direction of refinement and restraint rather than detailed expression, considering that the         resolution of e-books is not very high.

While exploring the possibilities of these three design directions through 2-3 iterations, they eventually narrowed it down to one direction: refining and restraining serif fonts.

In-depth Exploration

After deciding on the direction, research and testing were conducted to optimize for the e-book environment. Research was done on the angles of strokes that would be particularly visible in e-books, as well as how the current design would appear in the e-book environment and how to make it more uniform and clear.

The process of extracting the design into font files, installing them on paper, and examining them with a magnifying glass revealed several key points:

  • Maximizing vertical and horizontal intervals of strokes

  • Maximizing vertical and horizontal intervals of counter spaces

  • Minimizing the size and shape of Myungjo's bill and conclusion

  • Simplification by connecting strokes to eliminate inter-letter spaces

  • Minimizing stroke thickness contrast


루페를 사용한 획의 각도 테스트

At the time, the resolution of e-books was not as high as smartphones. Therefore, straight lines appeared the cleanest on screens with low resolutions. Ambiguous spaces or angles were identified as factors that caused clumping or blurriness, and it was found that thin strokes were the first to become blurry in small-sized letters, which was not conducive to readability.

Based on these findings, the direction was refined through several installations, tests, and discussions. Eventually, the final direction was determined by examining not only numbers but also fixed-width and variable-width Hangul characters to determine the optimal size and width.


Character Creation, Release, and Beyond

Afterwards, production began to fill out the entire structure of the font, and sequentially, Hangul 11,172 characters, Latin alphabet, numbers, etc., were created. Over a period of one year and six months, this font was named Ridi Batang and was released to the world. “Ridi Batang” was considered to be a concise naming that effectively conveyed the font's purpose and RIDI.

According to the initial purpose, Ridi Batang was loaded onto RIDI PAPER and applied to RIDI's mobile app, where it has been well-read. On October 9, 2019, Hangul Day, it was released to the public for free and received a good response. In 2019, it was selected as an excellent design in the Good Design Communication category, recognizing the beauty and usability of Ridi Batang.