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Website fonts, browser safe fonts

Posted on by Clive Walker in Web Design Typography

I wrote this post a while back. The content can still be relevant but the information I've linked to may not be available.

Web designers often need to decide which fonts to use. After all, if your web viewers do not have the same font, then they will not see your lovingly-crafted website text in the way it was intended.

There is also a requirement to cater for Apple Mac users who have a different set of fonts to Windows users. What to do? Well, it’s not so difficult. Firstly, a series of fonts should always be specified in your style sheet (rather than one font). This way, if the website visitor does not have the first font, the next in the series will be chosen and so on. For example, we often use:

font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;

Here, Verdana (which is a very common font) is specified first, then Arial, followed by Helvetica (common with Apple Mac users), and finally sans-serif as a generic font (for anyone who deos not have the first three). The latter scenario is unlikely these days – but there is no harm in specifying a generic font last.

Common Windows and Mac fonts

Secondly, it is always worth considering fonts that are common to most users. Here is a useful comparison of browser safe fonts which we have used to guide our choice. It lists common Windows and Mac fonts and can help you choose a font that you might not have otherwise considered.

If you take these factors into consideration, then you can be pretty sure that anyone visiting your website will see the font that you intended.

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  • 12 Sep 2005 09:42:41

    which fonts is the best to use in making web link or menu?

  • 12 Sep 2005 09:55:18

    The choice of font really depends on the design of your website. It’s your choice. If you are using sans-serif fonts, I would probably use Verdana or Arial. Alternatively, this website (at the time of writing) uses a serif font called Georgia which is easy to read. Good luck!

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