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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Rick Beckman