Make Text on Your Laptop Easier to Read

Microsoft offers a free online service that claims to improve font display quality over traditional forms of font smoothing or anti-aliasing.

ClearType improves readability on color LCD displays with a digital interface, such as those in laptops and high-quality flat panel displays.
The online tuner lets you tune your Windows XP ClearType settings.

How it works

2. Use the check box to turn ClearType on. Click Next to tune your ClearType settings.

3. Select the sample that looks best and click Finish.

This will show how ClearType looks on your Windows XP system and take you to step 4, where you can view text samples displayed using your new settings.

After your ClearType settings have been applied, the screen shows sample text using fonts commonly installed on Windows XP.

2 thoughts on “Make Text on Your Laptop Easier to Read

  1. Mike Pope says:

    Verdana was designed by Matthew Carter specifically for use on the screen, where resolution was not as good as it is for printed materials, and he designed in certain features to account for, as he once said in an interview, “the coarseness of the situation.” For example, it’s not a purely sans-serif font — there are serifs on capital I and J and on the numeral 1. His idea was to create a typeface that would be readable under the adverse situation of small sizes on the screen as well as look good when printed.

    His corresponding serif face is Georgia. It’s an interesting experiment to take a paragraph of text in the same font size in Georgia and Times New Roman and look at them side by side on the screen. I just not did this with Georgia, Times New Roman, and Garamond (per what’s been suggested to you), and I’d have to say that Garamond looked the scrawniest of the three.

    The issue of the typeface being “dated” is orthogonal with its readability; that’s a statement about fashion and taste, not about utility As such, there’s no real response to it. But I’d say that the “user-friendliness” of Verdana is evident from how widely it’s used for screen-based text.

    As an aside, the Windows Phone uses a unifying typeface (I believe it’s Segoe, but I can’t confirm that at the moment) that works surprisingly well in incredibly small (4-point?) sizes. Talk about a challenge, yikes. It’s a sans-serif face, which I think is significant to this discussion.

    While the choice of a typeface is something to contemplate, I think your points about other ways to enhance readability (especially size) are _at least_ as important. Those, and other design choices like colors, margins, and line height, are much more of a factor for me. I use Readability, which takes a page you’re reading and reflows it by using rational (ahem) choices in layout, color, and type. I find I need to use Readability way more as a result of crappy layout (e.g., no margins) or unreadable colors (I’m old, so I can’t read white-on-black very well) than as a result of what typeface the page designer has selected.

    Anyway, just some thoughts. I don’t really have any expertise, just opinions. 🙂

    • Ivan Walsh says:

      Wow! Thanks for the incredible response, Mike.

      We’re probably the same vintage so I know what you mean about readability. I use the zoom function on the browser to help, esp at night.

      Off to learn more about Segoe – may help in a side project I’m working on 🙂

      Thanks again.


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