IE 7’s Type Rendering Better than Firefox’s?

This is almost surely a sign of impending Apocalypse, but Timothy’s Burden actually looks better in Internet Explorer 7 than in Firefox. The difference in how IE renders the font compared to Firefox is startling.

Images removed.

Of all the things Microsoft has gotten wrong, they have succeeded in making my blog look much more beautiful than I expected!

12 thoughts on “IE 7’s Type Rendering Better than Firefox’s?”

  1. You know that you can enable this in Windows for every application, right? Go to: Start > Settings > Control Panel > Display. Then, on the Appearance tab, click Effects. In there, check the box labeled “Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts” and then choose ClearType. There, now Firefox looks just as good (and so does MS Word and everything else). It’s staggering to me that Microsoft makes this option turned off by default.

  2. Yeah, Nathan is right. I’m using Firefox right now and your site looks exactly like the image you have depicting how it looks in ie7. Cleartype is a must. In fact, I’m going to write a post on that.

  3. Nathan, according to the Wikipedia article on ClearType, it shouldn’t work well on CRT monitors, which are very common. That might explain why it is off by default.

    However, my monitor is a 7-years-old CRT and ClearType is a beautiful thing, so maybe the Wikipedia article is errant in that detail.

  4. Wikipedia is no errant in this detail. What’s more this very website uses a specific font that simply looks better in cleartype – it’s the problem with a font not with the rendering. Don’t use fonts favoring one setting over another.

    And it is just you yousing too high resolution for that CRT of yours and your personal preference for everything to look blurred. Try sitting closer to your display or adjusting the resolution to such that won’t be damaging your eyes.

  5. cleartype is EVIL.

    cleartype is ok for ultra-dense laptop displays (i.e. 1600×1050 or higher for a 15″) or italic font. Fonts with crappy hinting generaly benefit from cleartype. Fonts with proper hinting like Tahoma or Arial generally get blurred.

    What is wrong with the cleartype implementation is that even straight lines get anti-aliased. And it is contrary to the aliasing idea, for a straight line cannot get aliased.

    The idea of subpixel rendering is one of a constant compromise. It is a compromise between resolution, contrast and color fringing. If text gets contrast it developes color fringes, no color fringes jeopardises resolution, resolution requires contrast – the circle is closed.

    In normal situation text consists of filled black outlines on a white paper. The contrast is full, i.e. 100% of what a device can bring. That’s the way we got used to reading books. If the text is of another color, especially a shade of gray, cleartype looks ok because we don’t expect the contrast to be high. The same goes for bold or large text – when there is plenty of blackness inside the letter we perceive the amount of contrast to be ok – it even looks better when the outline is blurred. Microsoft noticed that with standard smoothing in win98. What they didn’t notice is that when the font gets smaller, and you still try to blur it, letters in a word got merged and everything turns blurred.

    What cleartype is trying to do is to hide aliasing. Some people are distracted a lot by those jagged lines in N, V, W or A. It can really be annoying in a pseudo-handwritten or italic monospaced font, but usual fonts for reading a web page are hinted in a way only very few letters are jagged. Please, look how the cleartype’s examples are constructed – you always get a italic font often badly hinted when without cleartype. It’s not comparing apples to apples. It’s not a conspiracy though, it’s plain ol’ evil marketing.

    I have just typed whole english alphabet in upper- and lowet-case totaling about 50 characters and of all of them about 8 had jagged edges. Is it really worth blurring another 42 to ease that?

    There is a sort of balance of people’s preferences, where some prefer contrasting vivid fonts and others get perplexed when they see a stair-like line. Some are so annoyed by the jagginess they even purposefully blur their anyway-blur CRT fonts with cleartype. Of those two I lie somewhere in between, closer to the need of contrast. Though smooth looks prettier, is great for images and buttons, it tires eyes over a longer period.

    The point is as cleartype gets default in vista more and more web designers will start to set ugly fonts for their sites and one day we may wake without a properly hinted pretty font. In much further future though, when displays will develope insanely high resolutions properties of font rendering will more and more resemble that of printed text, i.e. there won’t be 1-pixel wide lines any more, lines will become umpteen pixel wide. And that will make cleartype obsolete. Once and for all.

    — what is my usual opinion on the topic

  6. Why do you feel so strongly against something as little as ClearType?

    I have yet to come across a font on any website that doesn’t look fine or better in ClearType rendering. And I’ve been using this resolution on my monitor ever since I upgraded my graphics card. It looks great and doesn’t strain my eyes much at all.

    So, whether ClearType is evil or not is irrelevant. It works and improves my experience, so it’s staying on. No one is forcing you to use it. :) Happy browsing.

  7. It’s the same class of feelings that I have to switching between CRT and LCD. It’s the contrast, sharp edges, false colors and brightness. Flickerlessness. If you sit far enough or are nearsighted enough you stop to notice individual pixels, or if your res is up too high, then your eye can’t find a focal point, then it tries to find it closer or farther than the display is, then you stop notice how much it is really blurred and that eases your eyes for a while, ‘cos they dont have to try that hard, then the get “lazy”, then you develope near-sightedness.

    Reading in the dark, reading small print DOES develope nearsightedness.

    And you make a mistake yet another time: I’m currently using Vista RC1. Here you CANNOT switch cleartype off altogether. You can switch it off for some applications, but the interface, microsoft apps, stay subpixellishly blurred. And well, it looks good.

    But of course you haven’t read what i wrote carefully enough. I say there how to improve cleartype to be even better, to meet your and my criteria at the same time.

    Consider this:
    “So, whether cocaine is evil or not is irrelevant. It works and improves my experience, so it’s staying on. No one is forcing you to use it.”

    Yyy, well – yeah. I have the same point of view. Let’s legalise this and put it into cornflakes. :P

    This comment has been edited.

  8. ClearType is great, but I’m developing a website and I have to keep going back and forth between IE7 and FireFox 2. The site looks great in IE and looks like it came out of a typewriter in FireFox. Now, I could put something in the page that will let FireFox users know that it’s not my fault that the page looks so crummy, and include a link to a page telling them how to turn on ClearType, but I would prefer it if FireFox just prettied itself up a bit.

  9. Cleartype to me is indispensable with flat-screen monitors.
    By the way, I think that Safari (which I don’t use) has very good text rendering. (Apple describes it as ‘lovely’.)

  10. #Jeff

    The problem isn’t from Firefox; is the conception of programming. If one developed to one browser, then you need adapt to others. If the default browser that you develop is for Firefox, then you can look that in IE is not the same result.

  11. Well actually, Its the image.zoom which is automatically set to True in Firefox that appears to display type slightly blurred along with images.

    In FF, in the address bar type


    In the second search bar type:


    Double click and set to false, this will now display sharp type and images.

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