This weekend, because I was at Code Camp, I went to Hanselman’s speaker orientation session and there were a few cool tips for managing fonts etc. I’m becoming a Hanselman groupie I guess – I end up using most of the tools he points out now, including SlickRun (which just rocks especially when you’re doing presentations!), TaskSwitchXP, NotePad 2 and a few other tools I’ve been using for a while like Process Explorer.


Anyway one of the tips was to use the Consolas font at 15 points (generally), which is an installable proportional font. I checked this out, installed the font set it up to 15 point and aaaaaargh – it looked absolutely like shit. Can he be serious?


Well, it turns out I usually don’t run ClearType or any font enhancing on my systems. I find the anti-aliasing does nothing for clarity or readability of the text, all it seems to do to me is make my eyes get tired a lot quicker and give me a headache in short order. I’m not a fan of ‘blurry text’ which is all that anti-aliasing really is.


After turning ON ClearType, Consolas at 15 point indeed ends up being a very nice looking font. But only at 15 point. Reducing to a non-presentation size (10 or 12 point) still ends up being a very muddy font IMHO. Without ClearType the font has bold spots everywhere and just is next to unreadable. Even with ClearType at these lower resolutions it looks funky – nothing like the smooth outlines that you see at 15 point.


I haven't used font smoothing for quite some time, so I spent a little time experimenting with different fonts and schemes, but I find the experience very hard on my eyes at the font sizes I use, which are relatively small - I like to not waste my screen real estate <g>. Unless I'm running at large font sizes, the anti-aliasing is just not doing anything for readability. In addition, it seems that a lot of fonts end up being smaller with ClearType enabled. Not sure what that's all about, but switching back and forth I see a definitive apparent size difference between the displays.


So what do you use for code fonts in your application? Are you running with ClearType on?


I must be old fashioned but I use Courier New at 10 pt for regular work, (sometime 12 if I get tired <g>) and 14 point for presentations. I think for presentations using ClearType and Consolas might be a good idea, but for day to day work that doesn’t like a solution for me.


I've experimented in the past with non-proportional fonts for code, but that's just too weird. I forced myself through that for a few days, but I couldn't get comfortable with that. I suppose all of this is a matter of preference, but it's pretty important for coding to get to a font that works for you.