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Overcoming Bad Fonts

2005-01-10

Category: crafts

Yesterday I helped a fellow in my computer center who had difficulty reading some text on a web page. He was trying to read a series of resume submission pages for a large corporation. That company should have known better, but they used an incomprehensible font for questions on their web site. It took some effort, but we made it readable. I thought I would pass on how we got through it in case you have the same problem.

The computers in the computer center have strong security settings that make it difficult for the users to change settings. This is done because of the number of people who would make spurious changes. (That number is low, but those few cause enough trouble to make the security necessary.) As a result, we could not change the font settings for Internet Explorer to override the web page font selections.

Our next attempt was to use the Magnifier utility. Many later versions of Windows have Accessibility Features. These are things that make it easier for persons with disabilities to use the computer. The Magnifier creates a window across the top of the monitor that shows an enlarged image of what ever the mouse passes over. It?s a good tool. In this case, it just magnified the undecipherable text.

The final solution was simple enough. For each line of text, we highlighted the text with the mouse. Then we copied the text and pasted it into Microsoft Notepad. When you do this, the text loses all of its formatting; you are left with just the text. If you can?t get text into a readable format, Notepad will clean it right up. (For you non-Windows users, most computers have a text utility like Notepad that will do the same trick.) With this little trick, the user was set and ready to go.

For those of you who create web sites, let this be a lesson. It may look cool to use a funky font but you may be making your site unreadable to some visitors. In the case of the user above, he really needed the site he was on; if that wasn?t the case, he wouldn?t have made the effort. Keep your text readable.


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