Alois Kraus


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Recently I got an interesting drawing issue which looks like a Windows bug. Let´s suppose you want to draw a string in Chinese in a Windows Forms or an WPF application. There you have two options.

  1. TextRenderer.DrawText
  2. Graphics.DrawString

The problem is both methods lead to crappy rendered text when the used Font is bold. The "old" method by using Graphics.DrawString renders some Chinese glyphs wrong. If you try a new shiny WPF application you will find out that WPF uses the equivalent to Graphics.DrawString since the text looks the same. Graphics.DrawString and TextRenderer draw the following string with an Arial font like this:


Did you notice that the last 3 characters are slightly shifted above and rendered in some bold font? This is normally a sign that the used font (Arial) in this case did not contain all Unicode characters of the string to draw. Before drawing empty rectangles Windows uses the next suitable font which looks like Microsoft YaHei in this case.

To fix this you need to tweak the registry and add a key for Arial to prefer instead a different font to render the complete string with the same font. With the following setting you switch Arial to SimSun as first preferred Font (the Arial key did not even exist on my 8.1 machine).


After doing this modification you need to log out and log in again to enable this change. The only issue is that Graphics.DrawString draws the string just like before. No change here. Either it ignores Font Linking in favor of some awkward switch like if (char > dddd) "Microsoft YaHei"  else "Arial" or it has a plain bug in it. The usual suspects on StackOverflow recommend to switch to TextRenderer which works much better. But it breaks if you try to render bold fonts which look quite bad if you do not set explicitly a background color. Here are some pictures how the text changes if the font size grows:


In my application I cannot set a background color since I am drawing onto a Bitmap which is overlayed with other graphics which must remain visible behind the rendered string. The other option is to use as background e.g. Magenta and use this a transparent color. Unfortunately this doesn't work due to the anti aliasing which leaves some purple shadows on the drawn text which looks really ugly. So far it looks like Windows leaves you with two bad options if you want to make a professional looking graphical localizable application:

  • Either the Chinese characters are drawn with two different fonts. (TextRenderer).
  • Or you end up with barely readable text  (Graphics.DrawString).

If you have solved the issue without setting an explicit background color I would love to hear about your solution. The code to draw the text in both Picture boxes is like this:

        const string combined = "测试标记好不好This is a aber long";
        private void cFontSize_ValueChanged(object sender, EventArgs e)
            Bitmap bmp = new Bitmap(750, 140);
            Font f = new Font("Arial", (float)cFontSize.Value, IsBold ? FontStyle.Bold : FontStyle.Regular);

            using (var g = Graphics.FromImage(bmp))
                g.CompositingMode = System.Drawing.Drawing2D.CompositingMode.SourceOver;

                // Rendering with a Background Color solves the issue but 
                // this would produce boxes of white or black color in the displayed image which looks even worse
                TextRenderer.DrawText(g, combined, f, new Point(0, 0), FontColor);
            cPictureBox.Image = bmp;

            Bitmap bmp2 = new Bitmap(750, 140);

            using (var g = Graphics.FromImage(bmp2))
                g.CompositingMode = System.Drawing.Drawing2D.CompositingMode.SourceOver;
                g.DrawString(combined, f, FontBrush, 0, 0);

            cPicture2.Image = bmp2;

Pretty straightforward code I would think. WPF is also not the solution since it draws the text in the same way like Windows Forms. I wonder what market share Chinese people currently have that this issue is even in Windows 8.1 not fixed.

Update 1

After adding Arial Bold as Font Link with the settings

It looks like Graphics.DrawString is the winner with the best rendered string again.


WPF still does not love my Font Linking settings. Whatever. Graphics.DrawString looks good now in all languages which is just what I need for now.


Update 2

It turns out that a German Windows 8.1 behaves differently than a English Windows 8.1 although I have installed the language pack for Chinese  for it.

  1. You do not need to log out and log in again to see the changes in effect and the Arail Bold setting was not required at all. It is sufficient to have one Font Linking setting in place for a German Windows 8.1
  2. On an English Windows 8.1 the bold fonts are still rendered wrong. Windows 7 dito. This is not a solution.

The only real solution I have come up with was to disable bold fonts for Chinese UI languages and live with non bold fonts. The Old New Thing has an "old" post on it called The danger of using boldface for Chinese characters which also points towards the direction that there is no way to render small bold fonts in Chinese which remain readable.

posted on Monday, December 1, 2014 8:03 AM


# re: Windows Draws Some Unicode Characters Wrong (Windows 7-8.1) 5/4/2016 12:08 AM Hemant
Facing similar issue. In my case in Windows 10 on WPF application.

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