Web Safe Fonts

What are Web Safe Fonts? Do you need Web Safe Fonts? What Impact will they have on my website?

Every single internet connected device has, pre-installed, a number of fonts. These are instantly available to web browsers

Which Fonts are Web Safe?

  • Comic Sans
  • Courier
  • New Georgia
  • Times New Roman
  • Verdana
  • Trebuchet
  • MSPalatino
  • Tahoma
  • Arial

These are a mix of “Serif” fonts (those with little “tails” such as Times New Roman and “San Serif” fonts – which don’t have any fancy frills.

Times New Roman is a Serif font, and was designed to look good, on printed paper, It was designed in 1931 for The Times newspaper.

The Aerial font was designed in 1982. It is a license free variation of Helvetica (so free to use) and both were specifically designed with the aim of being easy to read on a computer screen.

2 short sentences, the top one written in Times New Roman and the 2nd one in Arial

When a Web Safe Font is used, the device accessing the website doesn’t have to download any font to open the web page in the browser. This is the fastest way of presenting written content.

Non-Web Safe fonts are great, though. They can add fun, they can add a certain seasonality, they can look like handwriting (Cursive fonts).

They give a web designer access to hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of individually crafted fonts, which can really enhance the look of a website, when used effectively.

However, before a browser can display a page with a non-Web Safe Font, the browser first has to find where it can download the font from, and then download the font. In this era of speed (needing to open a website in under 3 seconds) this can slow the site down.

Not only that, but if the font can’t be downloaded, the website will default to Times New Roman (typically) and this could make the site look ugly because the page formatting will be out, and it could render the text unreadable because some fonts have to be set to a significantly larger size to be rendered in a readable way on screen