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Daring to use other fonts

 5:56 pm on Jan 31, 2001 (gmt 0)

While I was browsing around yesterday, I came on a page that stopped me in my tracks.

I noticed it was using a serif font that was much easier to read than Times New Roman, so I checked the code -- it was Book Antiqua, which has big open lettering with some extra x-height. Man, it looked good, a real breath of fresh air.

I know this is a relatively common font on PCs -- wondering if it's also common on Mac. In fact, I'm wondering about what other fonts might be workable today besides the standard ones -- Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, Georgia, Times New Roman, Courier.

Anyone have a source on market penetration for fonts, or relevant experience?



 6:49 pm on Jan 31, 2001 (gmt 0)

cnet's piece on embedded fonts [builder.com] is a nice resource for the pros and cons of venturing outside the helvetica/arial world.


 7:15 pm on Jan 31, 2001 (gmt 0)

Yeah, I've considered working with embedded fonts. The link you posted links out to this article about permission [builder.com]. Some very important issues there about the rights of the font designer. And the case for a lawsuit is pretty open and shut if you embed a font without permission. This backs me off every time, until someone publishes a definitive list of fonts that are free to embed.

The advantages of embedding can be incredible. If you use a dingbat style font, you can create all kinds of images with text instead of gifs. That would certainly mess with the search engines! There are some great demos of the possibilities on Microsoft's site [microsoft.com], at the bottom of the page.

Still, I'd like to tap a few more basic fonts, just using "font-family" in CSS. I think Book Antiqua might be an excellent choice, as long as I specifiy a backup.

Edited by: tedster


 3:01 pm on Feb 1, 2001 (gmt 0)


I actually was using Book Antiqua on my site up to a few months ago. We get a lot of NT OS hits and it is not a standard font. Man I tell you explaining that one to my wife (read: hard client) as she was the one who chose that font to use. We went round and round for a few days ;).



 12:38 am on Feb 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

Is there a downside to using Book Antiqua, and then Times New Roman as a second choice?


 12:26 pm on Feb 5, 2001 (gmt 0)

IMHO no. I would tend to think that it would look for the first named face then move to the second. Maybe a ms to realize the first named font does not exist on the PC (?).



 1:17 pm on Feb 5, 2001 (gmt 0)

As I understand, browsers look for the "first available" font in the system, so as long as you give alternatives you should be OK.

I must admit I have basically stuck with the basics of Arial, Tahoma or Verdana, giving Helvetica as the second choice for the Mac. Don't like Times in browsers.

On my Net travels many years ago I picked up the following list of Font Familes, have no idea where I got it from now though.

Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif
Arial Black, Arial, Helvetica
Arial Rounded MT Bold, Arial, Helvetica
Book Antiqua, Times New Roman, Times
Bookman Old Style, Times New Roman, Times
Brush Script MT, Arial, Helvetica
Century Gothic, Arial, Helvetica
Century Schoolbook, Times New Roman, Times
Comic Sans MS, Arial, Helvetica
Garamond, Times New Roman, Times
Haettenschweiler, Arial, Helvetica
Impact, Arial, Helvetica
Tahoma, Arial, Helvetica
Times New Roman, Times
Trebuchet MS, Arial, Helvetica
Verdana, Arial, Helvetica
Verdana, Geneva

These should be OK in either PC or Mac with Helvetica and Geneva being the Mac alternatives. The trick is to test in both fonts to check if they are OK. Could be a problem if you sizing and text placement are critical to the design.

Having said that, I am not really sure what the "basic default" fonts on the Mac are. Can some of you Mackies help out here, perhaps then we can put together a definitive list of alternate fonts that should work cross browser, cross platform.



 12:12 pm on Feb 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

I would love to know. I have seen the microsoft "core" list. Looks very dull.



 1:38 pm on Feb 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

>>Can some of you Mackies help out here...

Well I did some poking around and found a "new to me" resource. It is here [til.info.apple.com]. After digging a little more I came up with this here [til.info.apple.com]. It is a list of the "core" MAC fonts on every major release from OS 7 up. Not a MAC addict, never even turned one on.



 5:51 pm on Feb 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

A Mac owning friend recommends including Geneva in any serif font-family. That way Macs won't default to Times, which he considers rather ugly and hard to read on screen.

Helvetica, I suppose, would be the sans-serif must-have. Any other widespread Mac san-serifs with a bit more character? Maybe one with a "city" name?


 8:31 pm on Feb 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

Mac city/place name sans-serif fonts are ugly. Chicago and Monaco would be a big no-no. Arial and Helvetica work just dandy... I usually use Arial,Verdana,Helvetica as a group.

For Mac serif font alterntives, New York is nice, and displays larger than Times.


 9:56 pm on Feb 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

Is there a reason why you place Verdana second?


 10:07 pm on Feb 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

I like Arial better. ;)


 10:12 pm on Feb 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

The reason I ask is that I can barely imagine a user with Verdana but not Arial, so I was wondering.


 10:53 pm on Feb 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

I really don't care for Verdana much, and from what I understand, Arial is pretty universal for Mac & Windows so I can usually assume people will see the "right" font. Even if it doesn't come standard with the OS, it will probably be installed by at least one software package.

Verdana, OTOH is not standard for Mac (except in OS 8.6 according to GWJ's link), and doesn't come with a lot of Mac software, so if I designed in Verdana, I'd have to double check everything in Arial anyway, to make sure it laid out OK on Microsoft-free Macs.


 5:40 am on Feb 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

I hear you about the double-check. Verdana's letter forms are so much wider than most sans serif fonts that anytime I use it in a font face list, I know I must double check. The line breaks will be completely different.

The place I do like Verdana is in extended text passages. MS designed the font explicitly for monitor display, rather than for print, and it has been measured as promoting a higher reading speed, at least on PCs (I never read anything about a Mac test.)

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