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Introduction to Fonts

Fonts are probably the most used (and misused) tool in web page design. We use fonts on
practically every page, but how much attention are we actually paying to the fonts we use?
I will have to say: not half as much as we should. Still, using the right fonts is important if
we want our page to look good and professional.

The proper use of fonts on web pages raises a lot of questions. Which fonts should I use?
How can I make everybody see the fonts I use on my home page? These questions, any
many other, will hopefully get answered on this page.








Web safe fonts

There is much talk of web safe colours, but sadly enough not much talk about web safe fonts.
Web safe fonts are the fonts practically everybody can see since they are the most common
on most computers. Let's take a closer look at them.

Arial Black
This font is perhaps not all that common. Its best use is for headlines in large sizes.

One of the most common fonts is Arial. It is a sans serif font (The word 'sans' means without
and serifs are the tiny "hooks" you can find on certain fonts like Times New Roman). Arial is
clean and quite easy to read even in small sizes. Similar font: Helvetica

Comic Sans
Another sans serif font with a somewhat more "artistic" look.

Courier New
The only monospaced font among the web safe fonts. Monospaced means that every character
has exactly the same width. An 'i' takes up just as much space as an 'm'. Use this font sparingly!

A thick and rather narrow sans serif font. Looks best in a little larger sizes since it tends to
get quite messy in smaller. Often used on professional sites as headlines and such. I don't
use it much, though.

Times New Roman
This is without doubt the most used (and misused) font. It's a serif font and a beautiful one
too. However, the serifs make the font very hard to read when used in smaller sizes. In my
personal opinion it makes a web page look quite unprofessional. I never use this font on web
pages, and you will have a hard time finding a professional site using it.

Another sans serif font, and in my opinion the most beautiful one. This site is all written in
Verdana. Like Arial it is easy (perhaps even easier) to read in small sizes. You will find this font
used by a lot of professional sites. It is a font I strongly recommend you to use. Similar fonts:
Tahoma, Trebuchet

Those are the web safe fonts and the fonts I think you should use. I know that many HTML
editors allow you to use all fonts installed on your computer, and if you write your own HTML
you can tag any font you like. That's nice, but do keep in mind that if you use any other than
the web safe fonts only those who have these fonts installed will be able to see them.

How to use the <FONT> tag

If you use an editor you won't have any problem adding fonts to your page. To specify a font
using HTML you have to add the fontname to the HTML font tag. This is what that tags looks


To specify a certain font all you have to do is add the name of the font between the quotes in
the font face tag (and the size in the other tag) like this:

<FONT FACE="Book Antigua"><FONT SIZE="2">

This lets you use the font (here it's Book Antigua) on your web page, and with the size 2 (that
is 10 pts). However, Book Antigua isn't a web safe font but it is quite common, so chances are
you'll get away with it. You can add more font names than one and thereby give more people
a chance to see your page the way you want. For instance, the font face tag for this page looks
like this:

<FONT FACE="Verdana, Arial, Times New Roman 12"><FONT SIZE="1">

You can change font whenever you like using the same tags. Don't forget to close them using:


The font colour is specified in the BODY tag. You can read about that in the Colours section here


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