What are the best font settings in Firefox?
May 31, 2010 8:44 PM   Subscribe

What's the best/optimal font settings in Firefox?

"Simple" question, right? My Google-fu is turning up no answers tonight.

What are the optimal settings for displaying readable, clear text in Firefox?

Here are the settings I would need:

Proportional and Size
Serif
Sans-serif
Monospace and Size
Minimum font size

Thanks in advance!
posted by zooropa to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
There's not necessarily an objective answer for this.

What are your needs? In what ways are the default not satisfying you?

(Also, what operating system and monitor are you using?)
posted by SemiSophos at 9:09 PM on May 31, 2010


Best thing I've ever found for making everything readable is NoSquint. Its solution is pretty crude (just use whole-page zoom to make everything bigger, and remember those settings per-site) but it's the only way I've found that doesn't consistently break website designs by violating designers' assumptions about the size of text vs. the sizes of other elements.
posted by flabdablet at 9:21 PM on May 31, 2010


NoSquint. Its solution is pretty crude (just use whole-page zoom to make everything bigger, and remember those settings per-site)

NoSquint with Text-only zoom FTW.
posted by orthogonality at 9:28 PM on May 31, 2010


There's no way to answer this because what one person finds readable another finds absolutely atrocious. At the very least, you'd have to account for screen resolution, screen size and DPI, type of display, whether anti-aliasing and/or subpixel rendering is available and enabled in the OS, ambient lighting level and type, distance from the screen, visual acuity of the user, and personal preference of the user.

Really the only thing you can say is to try things until you find something you like, and make sure your OS is setup for optimal text rendering -- enable subpixel rendering and set the correct RGB order if you have an LCD, otherwise enable monochrome antialiasing. But even that is not a given as I've met people that consider un-antialiased text at 1024x768 to be more readable than antialiased text at 1600x1200 at a comparable physical size.

Besides, those Firefox options only control the defaults if a web page doesn't specify otherwise, and practically every website does.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:24 PM on May 31, 2010


If you're using Windows, make sure you've used ClearType.
posted by Sufi at 11:07 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


NoSquint with Text-only zoom FTW

This will often break sites if you apply over 15% more text zoom than full zoom. But because NoSquint makes it really easy to set both text and full zoom levels, and because it applies those settings only per-site, it's much better at making the Web readable than any of the controls built into Firefox itself.
posted by flabdablet at 11:44 PM on May 31, 2010


those Firefox options only control the defaults if a web page doesn't specify otherwise, and practically every website does

You can in fact tell Firefox to enforce your font selections and not allow sites to override those, but doing so will cause all kinds of visual breakage.
posted by flabdablet at 11:46 PM on May 31, 2010


I don't remember the last time I saw a website that didn't have fonts set in CSS. Unless you like to look at really old sites for fun, you will never see the results of tinkering with the Firefox defaults. I just leave the defaults alone, and I think almost everyone else does too.
posted by twblalock at 11:50 PM on May 31, 2010


And seconding ClearType, even on CRT displays.

Many people will tell you that using ClearType on CRTs is the Wrong Thing, because ClearType was designed to take advantage of subpixel positioning on LCD displays and CRTs don't work that way. This is true, and turning on ClearType on a CRT (or on an LCD operated at non-native resolution) does cause some minor color fringing on rendered text.

However, ClearType also includes some contrast-improvement stuff that works equally well on CRT and LCD; and the downside of anti-aliased text is less apparent on CRTs, since unlike LCDs they don't have a sharply defined "native" resolution.

The net result of all these clashing effects is that ClearType does improve CRT text quite markedly.
posted by flabdablet at 12:12 AM on June 1, 2010


I change the fonts to Calibri/Cambria/Consolas by default rather than Times New Roman/Arial/Courier New for the fairly rare occasions where they've not already been specified in CSS, as I think they look a bit nicer.
posted by chorltonmeateater at 2:45 AM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are you asking this question as a web designer who wants to use specific fonts for the pages that you write, or are you a web viewer who wants to view other websites using a font of your choice (overriding the website design)?
posted by CathyG at 7:26 AM on June 1, 2010


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