October 22, 2010
Until recently I hadn’t noticed the poor state of affairs in font rendering for XP (at least by default). I began to notice when I was implementing a new font for this website - the site just looked weird when viewed in XP. No matter which browser I tried (IE, Firefox, and Chrome), the body text ended up looking both blocky and blurred at the same time! It was obviously something OS-specific, otherwise I would have seen different behavior when I switched browsers (or it would look equally horrible in both Linux and Windows), but what was it?
After a small bit of Googling I came up with my answer: ClearType was disabled on my XP machine. What is ClearType, you ask? Well, Microsoft touts it as:
”…an unprecedented innovation in font display technology that dramatically improves font display resolution and marks a genuine breakthrough in screen readability”Well isn’t that a mouthful! Here’s my explanation: ClearType is a font-prettifier for Windows. What’s good is ClearType comes built into XP by default. What’s bad is that it is disabled by default. That’s not too big of a deal, though. You can get “purdy” fonts with minimal effort by simply enabling ClearType - you’re literally a couple of clicks away from making all (okay, not all, but most) of the text on your computer look better.
Notice that I just said “better.” Of course “better” is a totally subjective opinion of mine. Feel free to judge for yourself. To assist you in that process, here’s a before and after screenshot of one of my blog posts:
Then go to the “Appearance” tab and click on the “Effects…” button:
Next, in the effects popup, check the box that says “Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts” and click the “OK” button: