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This chapter is from the book

Setting the Font

The font you use to display your text can make a powerful difference in how readers perceive your message. Some fonts are easier to read on the screen; others look better when printed. The font property allows you to determine the visual effect of your message by choosing the font for displaying your text.

In this example (Code 3.1 and Figure 3.4), the level 1 header has been assigned the Times font.

Code 3.1. You can specify as many fonts in your definition as you want. Separate names with a comma, and place quotes around font names that contain more than one word.

<html>
<head>
     <style type="text/css"><!--
        h1 {
          font-family: Georgia, 'Times New
          → Roman', Times, serif;
        }
        h3 {
           font-family: 'Courier New', Courier,
           → Monaco, monospace;
        }
        .copy {
           font-family: Arial, Helvetica,
           → Geneva, sans-serif;
        }
     --></style>
</head>
<body>
     <hr>
     <h1>ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND</h1>
     <h3>Lewis Carroll</h3>
     <hr>
     <h3>CHAPTER I<br>
     Down the Rabbit-Hole</h3>
     <p class="copy">Alice was beginning to
     get very tired of sitting by her sister on
     the bank...</p>
</body>
</html>
Figure 3.4

Figure 3.4 The font for the title, subtitle, and text of the page have all been set, thus overriding the default font set in the browser.

To define the font in a rule:

  1. font-family:

    Type the property name font-family, followed by a colon (:).

  2. Georgia

    Type the name of the font you want to use.

  3. , 'Times New Roman', palatino

    If you want, you can type a list of fonts separated by commas.

  4. , serif;

    After the last comma, type the name of the generic font family for the particular style of font you're using. Table 3.1 lists generic values for font families. Although including this value is optional, doing so is a good idea.

    Table 3.1. font-family Values

    Value

    Compatibility

    <family-name>

    IE3, N4, S1, O3.5, CSS1

    <generic-family>

    IE3, N4, S1, O3.5, CSS1

    serif

    IE3, N4, S1, O3.5, CSS1

    sans-serif

    IE3*, N4, S1, O3.5, CSS1

    cursive

    IE4, N4, S1, O3.5, CSS1

    fantasy

    IE4, N4, S1, O3.5, CSS1

    monospace

    IE4, N4, S1, O3.5, CSS1

Using browser-safe fonts

Look around the Web, and what do you see? Two fonts: Arial and Times. Virtually every site whose designers made an effort to control the display of text uses either Times or Arial (or its Mac equivalent, Helvetica). This situation came about for one simple reason: Virtually every computer has these two fonts or some variant of them.

I am sick of them.

Don't get me wrong—these are great fonts, easy to read at many sizes. But as I said earlier, typography adds a language to text that goes far beyond the written word.

Web-based typography is mired in using Times for serif fonts and Helvetica/Arial for sans-serif fonts. This arrangement mutes the power of typography, and all Web pages begin to look the same.

What are the alternatives to the "terrible two"? That depends on the computer the person visiting your site is using. Mac and Windows computers have certain standard fonts that should always be installed. In addition, Internet Explorer (which comes installed on most computers these days) installs several additional fonts.

I have compiled lists of browser-safe fonts that should be available on each of the different platforms.

  • Apple Macintosh (Table 3.2)

    Table 3.2. Mac System Fonts

    Font Name

    Styles

    American Typewriter*

    bold

    Apple Chancery

    Apple Symbols*

    Arial

    bold, italic, bold italic

    Arial Black

    Arial Narrow*

    bold, italic, bold italic

    Arial Rounded MT Bold*

    Baskerville*

    bold, italic, bold italic

    Big Caslon*

    Brush Script MT*

    Capitals**

    Charcoal**

    Chicago**

    Cochin*

    bold, italic, bold italic

    Comic Sans MS

    bold

    Copperplate*

    bold

    Courier

    bold, oblique, bold oblique

    Courier New

    bold, italic, bold italic

    Didot*

    bold, italic

    Futura*

    Gadget**

    Geneva

    Georgia

    bold, italic, bold italic

    Gill Sans*

    bold, italic, bold italic

    Helvetica

    bold, oblique, bold oblique

    Helvetica Neue*

    bold, italic, bold italic

    Herculanum*

    Hoefler Text

    bold, italic, bold italic

    Impact

    Lucida Grande*

    bold

    Marker Felt*

    Monaco

    New York**

    Optima*

    bold, italic, bold italic

    Palatino**

    bold, italic, bold italic

    Papyrus*

    Sand**

    Skia

    Symbol

    Techno**

    Textile**

    Times

    bold, italic, bold italic

    Times New Roman

    bold, italic, bold italic

    Trebuchet MS

    bold, italic, bold italic

    Verdana*

    bold, italic, bold italic

    VT100*

    bold

    Webdings

    Zapf Dingbats*

    Zapfino*

  • Microsoft Windows (Table 3.3)

    Table 3.3. Windows System Fonts

    Font Name

    Styles

    Arial

    bold, italic, bold italic

    Arial Black

    Comic Sans MS

    bold

    Courier New

    bold, bold italic, italic

    Franklin Gothic Medium*

    italic

    Georgia

    bold, bold italic, italic

    Impact

    Lucida Console

    Lucida Sans Unicode

    Marlett

    Microsoft Sans Serif*

    Palatino Linotype

    bold, bold italic, italic

    Symbol

    Tahoma

    bold

    Times New Roman

    bold, bold italic, italic

    Trebuchet MS

    bold, bold italic, italic

    Verdana

    bold, bold italic, italic

    Webdings

    Wingdings

  • Microsoft Core Fonts (Table 3.4) are installed with Internet Explorer for both Windows and Mac.

    Table 3.4. Microsoft Core Fonts

    Font Name

    Styles

    Andale Mono*

    Arial

    bold, italic, bold italic

    Arial Black

    Comic Sans MS

    bold

    Courier New

    Georgia

    bold, bold italic, italic

    Impact

    Times New Roman

    bold, italic, bold italic

    Trebuchet MS

    bold, bold italic, italic

    Verdana

    bold, bold italic, italic

    Webdings

    Adobe Minion Web

    NOTE: Internet Explorer installs these fonts, so they may not be available to Netscape users. Still, because most computers come with IE installed, it's a safe bet that these fonts will be on your visitor's machine.

As you can see, there are certainly more than two choices. Appendix D also lists these fonts, with examples of what they should look like and replacement fonts that are similar looking.

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