That Font Looks Nasty!

by Stephanie Rewis on September 22, 2004

Quartz technology on OS X and ClearType on Window XP — the answer to
all our pixely type woes. For ages now I've been telling people that
their XP machine can display fonts so well that we can now use CSS to
style headers and nix the whole header image routine. (I even wrote an article about it last year — Styling Headings for Fun and Profit with CSS.) No more of that
pixely, horrid stuff — everything will be smooth and lovely. And then
I bought a testing box with XP on it. And it was not

lovely. It was pixely and gross. Had I been lying to people all this
time? I was alarmed. I looked for a setting within XP but to no avail.

I discussed this with Kim C., and he dug around and found the solution. The ClearType text smoothing ships in the OFF
position. Yup, that's right. Microsoft added the beautiful ClearType
smoothing to XP, but Joe and Jane User have no clue. And I, who had a clue,
couldn' t find it. Just in case you're one of the clueless gang and you'd like
a more beautiful web typography experience, here are the steps I took:

  1. Right click on your desktop. The Display Properties panel will appear.
  2. Click the Appearance Tab.
  3. On the bottom right side, click the effects button.
  4. Click the second item that says: “Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts.” Select ClearType.
  5. Click OK
  6. Click OK in the Display Properties panel.

Now open a web site, or simply view this blog again. You'll notice
the headings look almost as good as they do on a Mac. ;) Enjoy!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim September 22, 2004 at 2:42 pm

Headers look great but other text I’m not so sure. Seems to affect everything – applications, etc.

My Dreamweaver editor text seems fuzzier than normal.

Peter (R) September 23, 2004 at 7:59 am

Hmm, I’m in two minds on this as well. I certainly had no idea about it so thanks for the heads up.

I think I’ll try living with it for a couple of days.

Rick Mason September 23, 2004 at 9:08 pm

On my Toshiba laptop the default is with cleartype turned on.

I wonder how common it might be for the builder of the box to turn it on?

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