Web Fonts
January 31, 2004 2:08 PM   Subscribe

What are your favorite fonts when designing for the web and why?
Oh, and what does the word "optical" mean when it's part of the name of a font?
posted by signal to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Optical, but there are also fonts like OCRA and B designed to be "read" by scanners and other machines called optical too.
posted by amberglow at 2:30 PM on January 31, 2004

This is worth a read when considering fonts for the web.
posted by cedar at 3:02 PM on January 31, 2004

clagnut has another interesting article on web typography.

The VisiBone Font Survey lists over 200 fonts broken down by overall browsershare, Mac browsershare, and Linux browsershare.

(Via Vincent McCurley.)
posted by timeistight at 3:30 PM on January 31, 2004

I recently grappled with this question and came to the following conclusions.

My favorite fonts don't matter. I need to look for a font that possess the characteristics I wish to convey. If this means using Georgia as my first choice serif, so be it. Why would I choose such an unpleasant font? Because most windows users have it installed.

When designing, use a standard font. Although it is impossible to know that everyone will have that font installed, at least a certain percentage will.

Use "font-family." put your first choice font first, and two or three fonts you feel are good substitutions, then the standards ones, then the system default. For example. Say you want body text to be in 20th Century MT, and feel that Gill Sans is a reasonable substitute. Just in case you also add more generic fonts in descending order of preference for example
font-family: "Tw Cen MT", "Gill Sans", Helvetica, Arial, Verdana, Sans-Serif;

Optical fonts are Open Type and take advantage of it by having slightly different designs for different weights, much like a font family would have been cast in metal. If you have an optical font installed, write out your favorite pangram at the following sizes:


then set the sentence in the various variations. Display, Subhead, Text, and Caption. You'll see the differences right away. Caption looks best at smallest sizes and Display at largest.
posted by Grod at 3:54 PM on January 31, 2004

i will rep' georgia and verdana until the day i die.

is gill sans on most people's computers?
posted by lotsofno at 5:11 PM on January 31, 2004

i find that comic sans is great for writing up office memos and humerous little jokes.
posted by chaz at 6:36 PM on January 31, 2004

I've onky ever used Comic Sans once - on a site that was supposed to be a blackboard - and I felt so dirty afterwards I refused to go near it for a while. It has to be one of the most hideous fonts known to mankind...
posted by twine42 at 12:39 AM on February 1, 2004

Gill Sans is standard on OS X machines only, I believe.
posted by sudama at 6:50 PM on February 1, 2004

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