Fonts on XP


Scoble and Dudley are having a debate about fonts and I can’t help but think the little screenshot isn’t enough to go on. For one, it’s clear that Japanese fonts are not rendered using ClearType, so that’s a topic for a different day. Right now I want to focus on regular Latin fonts.



I’ve put up a test page along with a screenshot that shows what everyday fonts look like on my Windows XP machine (with ClearType, tuned to my eyes on a Dell 2000FP, and 120 DPI fonts). I’m interested in seeing comparisons rendered on OS X, Linux, Windows with different settings, etc. Feel free to swap out fonts with ones you think look better; overall quality is what matters, not font-for-font rendering comparisons.


Note: When viewing the screenshot, make sure you have image scaling disabled. Also, if you post your own, please use PNG.

Comments (9)

  1. Mike Dimmick says:

    Tahoma and Andale Mono italics aren’t really a good test, because those font families don’t have an italic face. See your Fonts folder. When there is no italic face, Windows fakes one up by shearing the normal face by about 30 degrees.

    IMO, ClearType and cousins look good at an initial viewing, but my eyes get tired after about a few minutes. I run my 19" CRT at work (a standard shadow-mask design, Iiyama Vision Master 450) at 1152×864 with Small Fonts, because I prefer the shape of the characters and that the 16×16 icons aren’t oddly stretched or blurry. A bit of armchair calculating suggests I’m actually using about 80dpi.

    I do use the Standard anti-aliasing method, which kicks in for Arial Bold and Times New Roman Bold for the top two sizes and for the smallest size of all the fonts in your example. It looks terrible for Arial and TNR, but it looks like something’s overwritten the versions that shipped with Windows XP with versions dated in 1999.

  2. Jason says:

    After using an 19" LCD monitor with ClearType I never want to use a CRT monitor again.

    I have also used ClearType on a 20" LCD monitor with 120 DPI settings. This gives the most readable text I’ve ever seen on a monitor.

    I just wish some stretched icons and bitmaps didn’t look so ugly in 120 DPI mode. Most icons in the Windows OS are prepared for this mode, but suprisingly not all.

    I can’t wait for Longhorn to make high DPI monitors even more usable!

    A monitor with 192 DPI would be interesting since it would make icon and bitmap resizing look better when the DPI is excactly twice of what is normal today. It is coming to the Pocket PC world now.

    Mike Dimmick, I think ClearType is more useable for LCD monitors.

  3. Catatonic says:

    ClearType on a CRT usually produces fringes of colour around the letters. Really hard on the eyes after a while. I assume that’s why it’s off by default.

  4. Mike, I can completely understand why you wouldn’t turn it on. Besides the CRT, with that res and screen size, any kind of anti-aliasing for normal 8-12 point sizes would cause text to appear blurry.

    Jason, your comment about 192 DPI is interesting. Personally, I think toolbars and icons should all use vector graphics at this point. Maybe in a few years…

  5. Windows looks OK with anti aliased text on my CRT monitors. It’s not super clear like a good TFT, but it’s nearly as good.

    I run quite a low DPI (I have a couple of 22in monitors running at 1280×1024 each, so you do the math). I find like this, I have enough desktop space and text is big and easy to read without being too cluttered.

    Ideally if I could run 1600 x 1200 at 100Hz I would do this, but I find 85Hz a tad flickery (I have very sensitive eyes, and these tubes are brighter than your average CRT)

  6. Tony Schreiner has gotten into the conversation that Scoble and Dudley are having over font aliasing…

  7. Tony Schreiner has gotten into the conversation that Scoble and Dudley are having over font aliasing