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Links: Fonts for websites

Sticking only to the fonts that are commonly available across all users and all operating systems, constrains website typography to a handful of fonts, some of which are of questionable legibility and debatable aesthetics.

The links below provide access to discussion of the subject and font availability surveys across all major platforms, providing at least the basic information that will help in setting up unique alternative font-families for website design projects that depart from the arial/verdana, times new roman, courier conventions that persists across much of the web.

There is also a review of cross-platform “web-safe” font reliablity that summarises the font availability services listed below, and an examination of font aspect values and x-widths that may help in planning alternative font-families. Both resources are hosted here under the Tools section of this site.

Font availability surveys

Code Style Font Sampler
An excellent resource giving separate font availability surveys for the major platforms, as well as a unified survey for a clearer overall picture. Breaks results out by generic font family along with other useful information and links to take the (manual) survey yourself.
Visibone Font Survey Results
Availability results for fonts achieving 9% or better penetration across all platforms as measured by the Visibone Automated Font Survey. While more wide ranging in terms of fonts covered than the Code Style Font Sampler above, the results are less clearly presented and include some fonts that may not be so useful to web development simply because they are so obscure.


A marvelous tool for setting up and testing fonts and sizes for use on screen. Default font lists include the ‘safe’ fonts for websites, and the default font lists for both Windows and Mac. These lists will be updated as the standard sets are themselves updated.
Colour Contrast Calculator
Useful tool for determining whether you have enough contrast between two colours (e.g. foreground and background) to facilitate easy legibility.

Discussion of web typography

Jeff Croft: Luxury Type
A call for some adventure in specifying font-families, to make use of the vast array of fonts that exist, suggesting some alternative font-families that cover your bases and degrade well towards an eventual generic font-face.
Jim Byrne: Accessible Web Typography
Available as a freely readable online e-book, or as a paid for pdf download. Addresses web typography while keeping faith with issues of accessibility and usability.
Sane CSS sizes
Possible solution to problems of sizing text with css so as it is consistent across all browsers. There is also a companion piece that includes a couple of hundred screenshots to illustrate what happens across browsers when other methods are used.
Web typography
Short presentation of typographic basics and the achievement of typographically correct punctuation in websites.
Typography for web pages from a designer’s perspective
Discussion of typography for web pages, looking at both the possibilities and the constraints, though with some interesting color choices for some of the examples, rendering them practically illegible.

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