Walt at Random type ugly looking? Enable ClearType

I’ve now gotten a couple of messages, and a couple of screenshots, related to “ugly” type in this blog, in FireFox, using Windows XP.

I don’t think FireFox is the culprit (since a bunch of people said it was just fine).

I would suggest that you make sure ClearType is enabled on your system. With Vista, ClearType is the default; with XP, you have to enable it. (I just tried turning off ClearType under Vista, and the type did indeed look pretty ugly, in much the way the screenshots suggest.)

Here’s how:

  • From the Start menu, choose Control Panel.
  • From the Control Panel, choose Appearance and Themes
  • From the Appearance and Themes panel, choose Display
  • From Display, choose the Appearance tab and click on the Effects button
  • There should be a choice, “Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts”
  • Chose “ClearType” from the select list, and make sure you click the box.
  • Apply.

It should make an enormous difference for the display quality of any typeface that has lots of thick-and-thin lines, which both Constantia and Book Antiqua do. (If you still have a CRT display, it may not make much difference…)

When I turned off smoothing, the type was, in fact, coarse and a little ugly. Turning it back on: Beautiful.

Hope that helps. Funny thing is, this should have been a problem even before I chose Constantia as the first-choice typeface…

3 Responses to “Walt at Random type ugly looking? Enable ClearType”

  1. George Needham Says:

    Thanks, Walt! What a great tip. And the blog looks so much better now.

    Happy New Year!

  2. walt Says:

    My pleasure. Anything you do that involves print-oriented typefaces should be clearer: Word, PDF, etc.

    I hadn’t thought about the fact that XP comes with ClearType disabled (and never quite understood that, although CRTs were much more common when XP came out)…and the notes about enabling it weren’t all that widely promulgated.

  3. laura Says:

    Oh, HUGE difference. Thanks! Everything does indeed look better.


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