Here's one of the records I printed long ago. I was really good at tweaking the settings and, I promise you, this is absolutely the best I could do.
|Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, death certificate no. 17017 (21 March 1908), Charles B. Smith; FHL microfilm 1239777; Wilmette Family History Center, Wilmette, Illinois.|
I don't remember why, but not too long ago I decided to look for the same record on FamilySearch and this is the image that I found:
1) The online certificate image was created from the original, not from the microfilm. I talked with the FamilySearch folks who were digitizing records in the Cook County Clerk's office some years back and I remember them telling me they were working with some records that had already been microfilmed.
2) Just because a film number appears in the FamilySearch index entry doesn't mean the published image came from the film.
3) This is probably something that's unique to Chicago records and very few others.
So, for what it's worth, if, by chance, you have a hard-to-read printout or digital image that was made from FamilySearch microfilm, it might be worth checking online to see if you can now get a better copy.