Easy on the Eyes

Adjust monitor screen settings to prevent eye strain and bad posture.
Get your message across with common fonts.

See UNcommon Fonts and Font & Screen Colors below!

(To illuminate this subject, mouse over the big blue text.)

Does your computer glare at you?
People who spend a lot of hours using the computer get tired of reading the usually small, narrow text against bright backgrounds.  Paper and ink are easy, because you're seeing pigments which don't emit light; but with a computer monitor, you're actually staring into a light source - often for long periods.  At home, you can turn off the computer (and go watch TV); but eye strain can undercut your performance on the job.
A man has a friend who is terribly cynical, and a dog of whom he is extremely fond.
One day, the friend pays a visit, and the man as usual begins praising his wonderful dog.  Finally, he says, "Sometimes that dog is pure magic."
Having no patience for such things, his friend retorts that this is pure hogwash.
"Well," says the man, "Let's go duck hunting."
Soon after they arrive at a secluded lake, the man spies a duck flying low.  His aim is good, and the duck drops into the water.  Then he tells the dog, "Go get it!"
The dog walks across the water, picks up the duck, and walks back.
The man asks his friend, "What do you think of that?"
His friend replies, "Bah!  That stupid dog don't even know how to swim."

Our Desert Twilight color theme is designed to give your eyes a rest, yet keep your attention.  We designed this in 2005: nice to see others are catching on and providing solutions.  We use strong colors in consideration for people who do not easily see colors or subtle differences in shading.

Also, we avoid the flashy twitchy stuff that distracts you from reading and adversely affects some sensitive people.

Discovered in 2004:
the heart of white dwarf star BPM 37093 is a crystalline diamond weighing 10 billion trillion trillion carats (one followed by 34 zeros).
The animation above is just a fanciful drawing.

Our primary font is Verdana because it's simple, well formed, consistent at any size, has extra width, and is installed on most computers.  For comparison:

Here is a standard font, named Verdana - lI
Here is a standard font, named Arial - lI
Here is a standard font, named Times - lI

The above samples are all presented at the same font size, and each font name is followed by a lower case "L" and an upper case "I".  Whether you're verifying your pay check, doing your taxes, or coding a computer program, small mistakes can mean trouble.  Oddly, Arial is the most common Western default font.

Enlarged, Times makes good distinctions, yet it's a slower read because of its complexity.  Its use in newspapers makes it familiar.  While there are hundreds of fonts, relatively few are common to most computers.

Frequently, e-mails and documents appear to contain misplaced or strange characters because the recipient's computer does not have all of the fonts used to create the document.  The computer will try to make substitutions, with varying success.

Dear Mom
Ornate font samples © Greg Lauver

If Wolfgang prints and mails this, Mom will love it; but if he e-mails it and she doesn't have the Ruritania and Uechi fonts, it may look like:

Dear Mom,
I love you,

Outside your own loop - your computer, printer, and local colleagues - your masterpiece, full of unique and pleasing fonts, may flop when published to a wider audience.

There are elegant solutions to this, using pricey software which imbeds the fonts in the document (or creates massive files containing graphic pictures of your pages); but there are a few simple, inexpensive steps you can take right now for your, and others' reading pleasure.  Feel free to experiment with the following methods.

For Your Eyes Only

First, take care of yourself by clearing up the stuff you see the most - your display defaults.  Over time, leaning forward (bad posture) and/or squinting (eye strain) to read the display can lead to frustration and real health problems.  You should be able to sit upright and relaxed, at a comfortable distance from your monitor, and easily read anything on the display at a glance.


Check the outside edges of the display - they should rest snugly against, without overlapping, the physical display area of the monitor.  Review your monitor's manual for display size adjustments.  Absent the manual, look for hardware controls such as buttons, thumbwheels, or slide switches, which may be hidden behind a small door.

In the following steps, we'll use the shorthand described in Using Documentation.  After selecting settings, remember to click the OK button to make the change.  Depending on its abilities, your system may need to reboot for the new settings to take effect.


Check the screen resolution - measured in horizontal (X) by vertical (Y) pixels (smallest unit of display):
10-point Verdana at two resolutions

Point to an empty area on the desktop > right click > Properties > Settings tab

or:  open My Computer > Control Panel > Display > Settings tab

The limits of the screen resolution slider, from Less to More, should already be set by Windows to the limits allowed for your monitor.  The maximum should not exceed your monitor's maximum (see the manual to be sure).

Since your monitor can't physically change size, if you increase the number of X by Y pixels, you're packing more and smaller units of display into the same space; therefore more items can be displayed on the screen, but they will look smaller and sharper.  If the slider is not at maximum, and you feel that you could easily read everything at a smaller size, then you can gain some screen "real estate" by increasing the screen resolution.

Conversely, if you decrease the resolution, you get fewer and larger pixels in the same space; therefore fewer items can be displayed, but they will look larger and rougher.  If the slider is not at minimum, and it's hard to read everything, then you may be able to fix this by decreasing the resolution.  Note however that many programs are designed for a limited range of screen resolutions - usually the higher ones.  Experiment!


While you're in that same control panel (named Display Properties), click the Appearance tab.  Mouse on down to Font Size and click the down-arrow to show a drop box of font sizes.  Clicking one of them will change your default font size without changing screen resolution.  This is a system default which other programs may or may not respect.  Experiment with this in combination with screen resolution to find what works best.

Now let's go back to that same control panel, to the Appearance tab, and click the Effects button.  Look for "use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts".  If your system has this feature, you might try selecting ClearType from the drop box.  On modern monitors, especially with LCD screens, this setting can nicely clarify text which appears dithered, choppy, or "stair-stepped" like the output of old dot-matrix printers.

Also on the Appearance tab is the Advanced button.  From there, you can fine tune many aspects of the display.  We recommend that you do not experiment with this until after you have done the basics above - and until you have a good idea of what these settings do.  However, it is here that you can specify the default fonts for various areas of program windows and the desktop.


Two more areas you'll be seeing a lot are your browser and utility applications such as your word processor.  If your browser is Microsoft Internet Explorer:

Go to My Computer > Control Panel > Internet Options > General tab > Fonts

or:  right click the Internet Explorer system folder icon on the desktop > Properties > General tab > Fonts

For other browsers, look on the menu bar at the top of the window for something like "Edit > Preferences", or "Tools > Options", and so on, then find the Font settings.

If there is a language or locale option, it should already be properly set for your locale - we recommend that you do not change it.  However, you can usually set at least two kinds of fonts for your browser: a variable width ("proportional") font (where narrow letters are given less space), and a fixed width ("plain text") font (where all letters are given the same space - also called a typewriter font).

For your word processor and other applications, start the program and look through the items on the toolbar for something named Options, Preferences, Settings, and the like.  Within this, you may also find an area named Defaults, or similar.  If you can change the default font and font size, this can save you from having to change it every time you use the program.

For Your Larger Audience

If you're communicating on paper, exotic fonts are great; but when you communicate electronically with storage media and over the Internet, you will want your recipient to see your document as you intended it.  Here are Western core fonts for the web, jointly developed by Apple and Microsoft:

Andale Mono,   Arial,   Arial Black,   Comic Sans MS,   Courier New,   Georgia,   Impact,   Times New Roman,   Trebuchet MS,   Verdana,
Webdings (bhpwz9 — if this looks like "bhpwz9" then either you don't have this font or your browser doesn't support it)

Those options are rather few.  Following are samples of other popular Western fonts which are freely available from the font sites listed below.  This list is a single graphic we created to insure you can see fonts you don't have, without storing them on our server.  The font names are:

Abilene, Ageone, Altitude, Baker Signet, Bank Gothic, Bauhaus, Benguiat, Black Adder, Bolton, Bradley Hand, Calibri, Calima, Calligraph421, Century Gothic, Cloister Black, Colchester, Continuum, Copperplate, Corbel, Daniela, Edwardian Script, Engravers MT, Eurostile, Felix Titling, French Script, Lucida Console, Maiandra GD, Microsoft Sans Serif, Mistral, Oceania, Old English Text, Palatino Linotype, Papyrus, Perpetua, RACE1 Eternals Chiseled, Rockwell, Ruritania, Segoe UI, Tahoma, Tempus Sans, Uechi, URW Egyptienne Text, Vivaldi

Naturally, fonts made with thin lines look best in black on a white background.

Professional fonts are designed as packaged sets of complete styles, such as Narrow, Medium, Wide, Light, Bold, Italic, and Oblique, in several specific sizes.  For minimal fonts, applications such as word processors and Internet browsers are capable of simulating these styles to some extent.

An easy way to see what you have is to start your word processor, type a sentence on a new page, then select (or "highlight") the whole sentence, and use the font selection drop down box on the tool bar to change the sentence into various fonts and sizes.

A handy sentence to use is "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" because it contains every letter in the alphabet.

UNcommon Fonts

Bear in mind that some font sets are massive, thus adding excessive bulk to some documents and slowing transmission time.  Others may be inconsistently spaced, irregularly sized, or just plain hard to read.  But some are exotic and exquisite.  You won't know until you try them - and that's the fun part!

1001 Fonts - Free, with interactive comparisons - over 12,000 free fonts
Astigmatic One Eye Typographic Institute - weird fonts - unusual and interesting fonts - 1000s of fonts and links to other font sites - over 70,000 free fonts, PC-Mac-Linux - over 47,000 fonts - over 55,000 fonts (search Ruritania here) - the name says it - over 1000 classy fonts
Peter Rempel Design - Celtic, Runes, Uncial, more
SimplyTheBest Free Fonts - and this may be true
Spranq EcoFont - uses up to 20% less ink! - over 8000 fonts

Tip:  Weed out fonts you don't use - too many installed fonts make some applications run slowly and cost you time when selecting a font - but don't delete the core fonts we listed above.  You can safely delete fonts which you installed, or just move them to another folder for later.

Font & Screen Colors

Here is a chart of the 216 cross-browser "web safe" colors with an explanation of hexadecimal and RGB notation, and a chart of colors which browsers recognize by name (e.g., "PowderBlue").

W3Schools HTML Colors by Code
W3Schools HTML Colors by Name

Develop your own color scheme.  We made this page just for you:

Interactive Color Sandbox

Designers should check out this super Color Scheme Designer.

Did you lose something?

Occasionally data will appear to be cropped in an application or control panel.  If you hover the mouse pointer over the data, the rest of it may appear in a small "tool tip" window.  You may be able to extend the data field display by double clicking or dragging the right hand margin of the field title.  If those tricks don't work, try dragging the mouse over the data to select it, and continue dragging outside the field until all of the data is selected.

Sometimes in a web page, you may encounter a "white-out" (or a black-out).  For various reasons, coloration or contrast may obscure or completely hide text or graphics on a page.  A simple way to make it visible is to click Edit in the browser toolbar, then click Select All.  Whatever is there should show up, nicely contrasted against the selection highlighting.

Why is the alphabet in that order?  Is it because of that song?

now reading: Easy on the Eyes - Prevent Stress, Look Sharp
© 2005-2017 Lauver Systems • Niles Michigan • 269 635-0721
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