What's the State of the Art in Font Embedding
April 1, 2011 6:23 PM   Subscribe

What's the best current free or paid website font-embedding service? In terms of ease of use, stability, cross-browser-ity and general typographic badassness?

Working on the redesign of a website, and would like to be able to have some really cool typography, not just for headers but also for body text. Reccomendations, experience?
posted by signal to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Typekit and Webtype are the leaders for me. Here they are compared.
posted by Typographica at 6:27 PM on April 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

I've used Google Web Fonts/ Font API in several recent projects and found it easy to implement and reliable.
posted by annathea at 6:36 PM on April 1, 2011

I'd use @font-face directly rather than depending on a 3rd-party web service.
posted by rhizome at 7:12 PM on April 1, 2011

Best answer: I don't actually know much about typography, but I maintain some code that implements (as far as I know) every web font API there is, so I end up hearing a lot of opinions about the different services.

For ease of use, I'd probably say Google. There's no account to worry about, and it's very easy to find the code you need to use fonts.

For stability, the only service I've ever seen experience stability problems is KERNEST. I'd guess Google is the most stable, just because they have a giant server cluster, but stability isn't generally a concern. They generally all work all the time.

Cross-browser-ity, I think Typekit wins. Different browsers use different font formats, and while the formats can be automatically converted, you'll get better cross-browser display if someone manually tweaks the different formats. From what I've heard, designers are most happy with how Typekit does this.

For general typographic badassness, well, I think there's a lot of badassness to go around here. Pretty much everyone I've worked with from the different services is good people doing great work. The League of Moveable Type is pretty cool.

In general, I think Typekit wins on your stated criteria. Of course, you didn't mention price, and Typekit is a paid service. If you're going free and looking to maximize quality, I'd probably recommend Google.

I'd use @font-face directly rather than depending on a 3rd-party web service.

@font-face is certainly easy to use, but it's also very easy to use wrong. If you're going to do that, I recommend following a guide from Paul Irish.
posted by scottreynen at 7:47 PM on April 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

Great technical summary, scottreynen. Keep in mind, though, that most of the fonts on Google are not fit for body text, which is one of signal's requirements. Producing fonts that work well at small sizes on Windows requires significant development, and that's why the free stuff is rarely capable for body text. Always test webfont quality on major browsers/platforms. Quality varies.
posted by Typographica at 10:06 PM on April 1, 2011

If you do want to use @font-face directly and don't want to spend any money, Font Squirrel makes it easy with their font-face kits. There's also Fontspring, a self-hosted, for-pay option.
posted by logic vs love at 11:04 PM on April 2, 2011

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