a font to use on the Web isn't as easy as it might seem. If this
<FONT FACE> trick would work with any TrueType item,
I'd have used Bastarda, for instance, among others.
Don't see it? You can
for Windows (shareware) from Fontessa if you'd like; it's a well-executed
cursive face that you might find useful for DTP. But you still
won't see it on this page, even though the HTML is set for
it, unless you're using AOLPress (v. 2.0). Although Bastarda shows up fine
with this editor, it doesn't display in Netscape or Explorer.
Once you have found
a font that functions for the Web, you must also check to see if all
characters are available. Because your main fonts will most likely be freeware,
you need to be aware that many "free" fonts are incomplete in some manner.
A freeware font may only contain caps, for instance, or only lowercase. Numbers
are frequently omitted, as is punctuation you'll be needing like a period,
comma, colon, apostrophe, quotations, ampersand, etc. Some "free sample"
fonts have absent alphabetic characters. In some cases, you may be able to
work around the omissions, depending on the font and the usage you plan for
it, but for a main text font, you'll be wanting a full "palette" to draw
Because of the obligation and delay involved, I wouldn't recommend building a page designed for a commercial font, but it is helpful to be aware of some popular faces your viewers may already have installed that could be used as alternates in your tags (such as Lucida Casual). Shareware can be downloaded immediately, but requires an investment for any extended use, which may cause some people to pass on the download. I've personally bought a large number of commercial fonts and support shareware too, so I'm not opposed to commercial products, but freeware works out best for Web use since it incurs no monetary obligation.
If you don't know what the terms mean, then be-a-ware. Preferably, get the definition straight from the creator and/or owner of the copyright. None of the "trendy-ware" nicknames have any standard legal meaning and they are often interpreted in differing ways. Find out what is really meant before you set yourself up as a distributor of that cool font that was listed as "free" on Joe-Somebody's page, but is actually owned by Angree Atyue Foundry International. A little research at the beginning can save you a lot of potential trouble down the road.
Remember that you never
own a font unless you've created it from scratch yourself. What you pay
for (or obtain freely) is a license to use that font, and an
owner can offer many licenses for differing kinds of use. At the very least,
the more sure you can be of the use-rights you're permitted, the less likely
it will be that you'll need to redesign your custom page next week from
the ground up with some other face.
Are you providing a simple and convenient path by which people can reach your chosen font? I break this last guideline myself by sending my visitors to my fonts section rather than using a direct download link, and I really don't know how many find their way back to the page they originally had interest in. My current "workaround" for that is to have that link open a fresh browser window, so hopefully people will be able to return from the font retrieving side-trip and pick up where they left off. Then again, if they're wandering off enjoying and learning about fonts, well, that's what this section is all about, so perhaps I've given them something after all!
For best results, though,
give your visitors a link at the start of your page to a direct download
for the version that fits their platform. If you can offer it as a single
TTF or SUI, that's even faster, but remember
that most shareware (and even most freeware) fonts can't be redistributed
without the accompanying documentation in their ZIP or
After saying that, I
must also add that I would certainly allow for circumstances that might call
for more extensive use of a specialty font, such as Girls Are Weird (which
is quite legible for a "fun" font although too small to use on the
web), but again, keep an eye on the total appearance being created.
Not everyone has the storage space or even wants 600+ fonts installed
like this fellow I see in the mirror each day. Since many fonts need to be
HTML-enlarged one, even two or more steps to display
proportionally with the Web standard appearance, it assists immensely to
preview your page from a fonts-incapable browser (such as
Navigator 2.0 or Mosaic) so you can see how the page will look
to those who don't have your font installed or are still using older browsers.
A paragraph that looks fantastic in a special font at <FONT
SIZE="+4"> is going to blast folks away in the standard Times
New Roman at that size. By the same token, that delicate florentine style
is going to be lost on anyone using 1280 x 1024 resolution if displayed too
As you proceed on to develop your own guiding preferences for font selections, you'll also become aware of when it's perfectly wonderful to deviate from guidelines and in what ways. Understanding the hows and whys to begin with puts you cyber-miles ahead, and rather than being restrictive as some may view it, assists in freeing you quickly from the bonds of rigid yet empty rules, yet provides room to unleash your individual creativity and develop your own personal style.
Dreamfonts: Web Fonts Reference is a
Marking up the WorldWide Web since 1995.