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If your website was designed a while ago, chances are the choices of fonts at the time were limited. It is now possible to choose from a wide variety of freely available fonts,a and that can help liven up a dated looking site.


Websites have long been limitied to the fonts that were available on your computer. These could be Arial, Times New Roman, Helvetical, Tahoma, and a few others, most of which are looking dated these days, and your typography ends up looking generic.


Enter embedded fonts

There are now well coded services that take advantage of modern browser standards, and allow embedding of custom fonts on your website. Importantly, these are cross-platform and cross-browser compatible. That means the website should look similar on most devices, even with your crazy new fonts! There are a couple of methods available. You can upload the font files to your website, or put in a line of code which tells the website a remote server it can get the fonts from. I find the latter much less hassle, and the main services like Google are reliable.


Why not just make an image?

Your logo may well be made up using a fancy font, which is fine, it is an image. However for the bulk of your website text this isn't an option. Search engines need to be able to read the text, and it is way too laborious to make website content as images.


Example use

I primarily use Google Fonts. They have a nice variety, and sticking to one service means less learning curve. Here's an example of how to use their Open Sans font:

Visit https://www.google.com/fonts, find the font you like, click the quick use button: quick-use, and follow the instructions.

Here's how works in the coding:

  1. Add this line to your <head> section:
    <link href='http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Open+Sans' rel='stylesheet' type='text/css'>

  2. To use the font in CSS, your style would contain this entry:
    font-family: 'Open Sans', sans-serif;

That all might be a bit code heavy for you if you're a small business owner, but any half decent web developer can do this. Here's Google's own guide:



Good font choices

Open Sans is a great replacement for Arial as the main website text. It is very readable, and looks a bit more modern. It also has a good range of weights.


Roboto is also good, and a handy replacement for Helvetica, which while a very good font, isn't free!


Aller gives a slightly alternative look, without messing up readability too much.


Remember, less is more! Don't get carried away making things look too fancy, or the site will end up fussy and imbalanced. Using the new web fonts can really add a bit more zing to a site without much work.


Other services

Other embedded services include fonts.com and fontsquirrel.com



Don't let your site date too much, otherwise it's putting people off! New embedded fonts are a great way to breathe new life in without spending a great deal.