20 thoughts on “Cleartype improves reading comprehension, study says

  1. Indeed, the typeface of an online text affects your reading.

    There are two main font categories: serif and sans serif. Serif typefaces, such as Times and Times New Roman, include the tiny lines at the base and top of characters. Sans serif typefaces lack the short cross-lines on letters and have a more mechanical appearance. They include Arial, Helvetica, and Verdana.

    Here are the rules for how they affect your reading:

    Sans serif typefaces: Easier to read on screen. More difficult to read on paper. Work well for headlines both online and off.

    Serif typefaces: Easier to read on paper. More difficult to read on screen. Work particularly well in books, magazines, newspapers and long texts on paper.

    What’s funny is that when someone who is used to publishing information on the web decides to publish a book, it is often set in sans serif. They think that just because it is a standard for website text, that standard automatically transfers to book publishing.

    And when offline authors publish something on the Internet, they frequently make the opposite mistake – they use a serif typeface thinking that it will give readers an incredibly wonderful experience.

    There are thousands of fonts to choose from. You may ask yourself which san serif is the best to use for websites and online documents? The answer is…

    Verdana!

    The Verdana typeface family was designed specifically to address the challenges of on-screen display. The fonts are stripped of features that are redundant when applied to the screen. The balance between straight, curve and diagonal has been tuned to ensure the pixel patterns are pleasing, clear and readable.

    Another good typeface for on-screen display is Arial. It doesn’t top Verdana but it is eligible enough.

    And, in fact, there is one serif font that address the challenges of on-screen display just like Verdana. And that is Georgia. If you ever publish something on the Internet and want to use a serif font because you think it looks good, this is the best one.

  2. Indeed, the typeface of an online text affects your reading.

    There are two main font categories: serif and sans serif. Serif typefaces, such as Times and Times New Roman, include the tiny lines at the base and top of characters. Sans serif typefaces lack the short cross-lines on letters and have a more mechanical appearance. They include Arial, Helvetica, and Verdana.

    Here are the rules for how they affect your reading:

    Sans serif typefaces: Easier to read on screen. More difficult to read on paper. Work well for headlines both online and off.

    Serif typefaces: Easier to read on paper. More difficult to read on screen. Work particularly well in books, magazines, newspapers and long texts on paper.

    What’s funny is that when someone who is used to publishing information on the web decides to publish a book, it is often set in sans serif. They think that just because it is a standard for website text, that standard automatically transfers to book publishing.

    And when offline authors publish something on the Internet, they frequently make the opposite mistake – they use a serif typeface thinking that it will give readers an incredibly wonderful experience.

    There are thousands of fonts to choose from. You may ask yourself which san serif is the best to use for websites and online documents? The answer is…

    Verdana!

    The Verdana typeface family was designed specifically to address the challenges of on-screen display. The fonts are stripped of features that are redundant when applied to the screen. The balance between straight, curve and diagonal has been tuned to ensure the pixel patterns are pleasing, clear and readable.

    Another good typeface for on-screen display is Arial. It doesn’t top Verdana but it is eligible enough.

    And, in fact, there is one serif font that address the challenges of on-screen display just like Verdana. And that is Georgia. If you ever publish something on the Internet and want to use a serif font because you think it looks good, this is the best one.

  3. Brett: that’ll change in Windows Vista. Bill Hill covered why over on Channel 9. Turns out ClearType doesn’t work for some people because of the differences in how we all perceive color.

  4. Brett: that’ll change in Windows Vista. Bill Hill covered why over on Channel 9. Turns out ClearType doesn’t work for some people because of the differences in how we all perceive color.

  5. I don’t know why Windows doesn’t just default to Clear Type. It’s probably the first setting I change when I install a fresh copy of Windows XP.

  6. I’m glad scoble can come out and admit that Apple’s sub-pixel font rendering tech, as implimented many years later by Microsoft, is a good thing.

  7. I’m glad scoble can come out and admit that Apple’s sub-pixel font rendering tech, as implimented many years later by Microsoft, is a good thing.

  8. It is far more accurate to say “sub-pixel font rendering” improves reading comprehension. Pitting ClearType against the naked text, blah of course you will get a positive result. Now pitting OTHER sub-pixel font rendering tech against ClearType now THAT’s the study that should be done. These studies are so obviously self-serving — 3-day-old wormy rotten Apple on one side, fresh juicy water-cleaned Apple on the other, come on, that’s like pitting the Yankees against a High School Freshman team (or the Chicago Cubs, same thing). This isn’t a study, it’s a slam dunk.

    That being said already fallen in love with Corbel and all the ‘C’ fonts. Stuck them on XP SP2 and a nice twist from the usuals. Crisp, and clean. Bravo there.

  9. It is far more accurate to say “sub-pixel font rendering” improves reading comprehension. Pitting ClearType against the naked text, blah of course you will get a positive result. Now pitting OTHER sub-pixel font rendering tech against ClearType now THAT’s the study that should be done. These studies are so obviously self-serving — 3-day-old wormy rotten Apple on one side, fresh juicy water-cleaned Apple on the other, come on, that’s like pitting the Yankees against a High School Freshman team (or the Chicago Cubs, same thing). This isn’t a study, it’s a slam dunk.

    That being said already fallen in love with Corbel and all the ‘C’ fonts. Stuck them on XP SP2 and a nice twist from the usuals. Crisp, and clean. Bravo there.

  10. Well… I’m not so sure. Yes, it does improve type when you look at it on an LCD screen but try turning on ClearType on a CRT screen and all you get is a fuzzy, blurred, unreadable monster.

    It does work slightly better on trinitron/diamondtron tubes compared to shaddow mask CRTs but it’s far from readability and sharpness of the standard smoothing technique.

    The new “C” Vista fonts are the only ones that actually gain anything with ClearType regardless of the display technology. They look awful without ClearType but on the other hand – Verdana, Arial, TNR, Georgia and others become a complete mess.

    If Microsoft is betting on 99% of your customers using crappy LCD panels then I guess you’re on the right track. But (un)fortunately some of us wouldn’t trade CRTs for anything. At least not for anything with an affordable price tag.

  11. Well… I’m not so sure. Yes, it does improve type when you look at it on an LCD screen but try turning on ClearType on a CRT screen and all you get is a fuzzy, blurred, unreadable monster.

    It does work slightly better on trinitron/diamondtron tubes compared to shaddow mask CRTs but it’s far from readability and sharpness of the standard smoothing technique.

    The new “C” Vista fonts are the only ones that actually gain anything with ClearType regardless of the display technology. They look awful without ClearType but on the other hand – Verdana, Arial, TNR, Georgia and others become a complete mess.

    If Microsoft is betting on 99% of your customers using crappy LCD panels then I guess you’re on the right track. But (un)fortunately some of us wouldn’t trade CRTs for anything. At least not for anything with an affordable price tag.

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