Using Font Smoothing to Make Text Easier on the Eyes

ClearType is a font-smoothing technology that reduces jagged edges of characters, thus easing eye strain . Although it is optimized for LCD (flat panel) displays, ClearType is turned on by default on all systems, regardless of display type. Microsoft believes that ClearType improves readability on both cathode-ray tube (CRT) and LCD displays, but if you're a CRT user you should probably try turning ClearType off to see which works better for you. (You can also turn font-smoothing off altogether by clearing the Smooth Edges Of Screen Fonts check box on the Visual Effects tab of Performance Options, but it's hard to imagine any benefit from doing so .)

To check or change your font-smoothing settings, type cleartype in the Start menu search box and click Adjust ClearType Text. Doing so opens ClearType Text Tuner, which, in its first screen, has a check box that turns ClearType on when selected. The ensuing screens that appear each time you click Next offer optometrist-style choices ("Which is better, number 1 or number 2?") to help you reach ClearType perfection .

Windows includes seven new fonts that are optimized for ClearType. The names of six of these—Constantia, Cambria, Corbel, Calibri, Candara, and Consolas—begin with the letter c—just to help cement the connection with ClearType . If you're particularly prone to eye fatigue, you might want to consider favoring these fonts in documents you create. (Constantia and Cambria are serif fonts, considered particularly suitable for longer documents and reports . The other four are sans serif fonts, good for headlines and advertising.) The seventh ClearType-optimized font, Segoe UI, is the typeface used for text elements throughout the Windows user interface. (Windows also includes a ClearType-optimized font called Meiryo that's designed to improve the readability of horizontally arrayed Asian languages )

For information about how ClearType works, visit Microsoft's ClearType site, at w7io.com/0404.

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