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      "Web Safe" Fonts

      Tuesday, October 26, 2010 @ 10:04:00 AM
      A few common questions asked are “What fonts are safe for me to use on the web?” and “Is there a list of web safe fonts for reference?”, well we're here to help answer those questions. Web safe fonts are ever important but a lot of web designers lately are forgoing this important step in their design creation. Some are taking the steps to use a font similar to a web safe font but because it is not in fact web safe they inevitably have to default back to a font that isn’t quite the same. Their web design loses a little of itself and at this point they typically struggle to find a font that is close and web safe. There are plenty of web safe fonts available it just takes some creativity in using them to your advantage. We have a list of web safe fonts available in the article to help everyone out.

      Some of you that may have heard of the term web safe before and not quite known it’s meaning, others don’t fully know the reasoning behind it. We're here to clear all of these things up. First off, web safe fonts are those that are nearly universally available on any computer. So that when the end user, regardless of their machine preferences, goes to the web site they get the same experience as anyone else going to the web site. This is what web standards are all about and ensuring that you are using web safe fonts throughout your website is just as important as including a DOCTYPE and HTML tag in the beginning.

      Some background on fonts

      So now that we have explained what web safe fonts are you need to know a little about fonts themselves to make sure we are all on the same page. There are basically two types of fonts there are serif and sans serif fonts. Serif fonts are fonts that have fine cross lines at the ends of the letters. Sans serif are fonts that don’t have anything at the end of the letters. The most common serif font is Times New Roman and just happens to be the default for most windows-based browsers.

      Mono-spaced fonts are fonts that have the same amount of space between them for all of the letters.

      A list of web safe fonts

      Below is a table listing out all of the most common fonts and what operating systems they usually come with. Granted most machines have a lot more fonts then this, the ones listed are the most popular and mostly considered universally acceptable to use as a web safe font.

      *The green marks show very common fonts, the yellow shows not so common but all are generally accepted as web safe.

      Looking at fonts through the lens of web development

      Now that you have a list to go off of it is good to know some best practices of using fonts on the web. It is very important to include fall back fonts when you are creating your font selection on your web site. What we mean by this is choose your favorite font that you would prefer everyone to see as your pimary font and then include fall back fonts such as Century Gothic, Verdana, Arial, sans-serif would be a good way to list the fonts out in your CSS.

      The reason you want to do this is to ensure the most amount of similarity between your readers so they all get the same look and feel of your web site. It also ensures that the fonts you use are close enough that they don’t break your web site.