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What fonts will most site visitors have?
| 6:43 am on Apr 14, 2001 (gmt 0)|
In the old days it used to be Times, Helvetica, and Courier, or those families... really depressing.
I'm drawing up specs for some new sites to be built with text headings instead of graphics, and I wondering what fonts most site visitors are likely to have. "Most" probably indicates Windows 95 et seq, but I'd like to include Macs too.
In the default font sets of all operating systems in popular use, what are the font families I can count on everybody having? Or is it still just Times, Helvetica, and Courier? :(
| 7:44 am on Apr 14, 2001 (gmt 0)|
we had some discussion on this a while ago, something I want to get back to when I can. The main fonts still seem to be Times and Arial, but there are also a few variations you can use. I seem to stick mainly to Tahoma or Verdana for PC and Geneva for Mac but that is just personal preference.
Here are some threads with more detailed info:-
hope this helps,
| 7:47 am on Apr 15, 2001 (gmt 0)|
Woz - Thanks... There's a lot of material there for reading and referencing. My main interest, of course, is in making the right font choices so we know that viewers on all platforms will see our text-based headings as we intended.
| 8:18 am on Apr 15, 2001 (gmt 0)|
Yeah, I know what you meant Robert. Wouldn't it be great if there was only one browser on one platform...
I find that list I found quite useful to make sure I get the closest results on any platform/browser.
| 8:26 am on Apr 15, 2001 (gmt 0)|
>>Yeah, I know what you meant Robert. Wouldn't it be great if there was only one browser on one platform...<<
Yes indeed... but it's not just the browsers and the platforms. It's also about what fonts people have installed on their systems. I have a lot of fonts that would look great on websites, and my designers have even more, but I can't assume that most site users will have them too. That's why I'm looking for the default lists.
| 8:33 am on Apr 15, 2001 (gmt 0)|
>what fonts people have installed on their systems..
Ah, yes. Definitely a case of sticking to the basics.
| 7:05 pm on Apr 16, 2001 (gmt 0)|
One thing to consider is what market you're targeting... A site that targeted PhotoShop users could probably safely use any font that came as part of the PhotoShop install. Same with sites that target users of MS Office apps, etc., etc...
But if you're not targeting your site in that way, keeping a list of which fonts are installed on both platforms/all systems would give you the safest display. And probably be a dismally short list to boot...
(If anyone wants to take the time to compile such a list, I'd love to see it! ;) )
I generally stick to Arial/Verdana/Helvetica and Times/Times New Roman and Courier. Sad but true... or, you could build your whole site as a series of inter-linked PDFs! (LOL)
| 8:40 pm on Apr 16, 2001 (gmt 0)|
Who's got a lot of time and wants our undying gratitude? :)
| 8:38 pm on Apr 23, 2001 (gmt 0)|
I've just done a clean install of windows ME, and it came with these fonts out-of-the-box:
Arial, arial black, Comic Sans MS, Courier New, Impact, Lucida console, Tahoma, Times New Roman, Trebuchet MS, Verdana.
| 9:09 pm on Apr 23, 2001 (gmt 0)|
I'll keep a list... anyone else want to share their default fonts? (I've added SO many fonts to my system since I installed, I'll have to check...)
Here's a list of other OS's I'd like to have info on:
|Windows 95 |
Red Hat Linux (Win)
Red Hat Linux (Mac)
other popular *nix installs
Mac OS 7.5
Mac OS 8
Mac OS 9
Mac OS X
I should be able to dig up the Mac info.
| 10:02 pm on Apr 23, 2001 (gmt 0)|
>>I've added SO many fonts to my system since I installed<<
Me too. Any easy ways to get the original font info off the system CD-ROM? I realize I can also sort my Windows\fonts directory by date, but the abbreviations for the font names aren't always easy to figure out.
It occurs on newer OSs, like ME, the easiest way might be to check on a demo machine in a computer store.
Also, the lists we come up with are going to be way overkill... and similar fonts are going to have different names on different systems.
What's the best way to approach this without coming up with hundreds of names that don't really tell us anything?
| 10:55 pm on Apr 23, 2001 (gmt 0)|
Well as far as organizational issues go, all I'm aiming for is a list of more-or-less "universal" fonts. If similar fonts have different names, they're not really the same font... but could be used as 'specified alternate' fonts for folks who don't have the primary default font installed... did that make any sense?
Any easy ways to get the original font info off the system CD-ROM?
You could install the system software onto a blank Zip disk... then look at the fonts folder. That's what I might do...
Edited by: mivox
| 11:02 pm on Apr 23, 2001 (gmt 0)|
Checked a clean basic install of win98 (not se), same fonts as Sugarkane gets for winME.
I've just checked an Installation of SuSE 7.0 (clean, eval install) and theres 1060 files that appear to be fonts (I think some are international). I think the whole linux thing is complicated but netscape shows the following as (variable width)font options:
New Century Schoolbook
| 6:58 am on Apr 24, 2001 (gmt 0)|
>>Well as far as organizational issues go, all I'm aiming for is a list of more-or-less "universal" fonts.<<
Yes, that's what I'm looking for too....
>>If similar fonts have different names, they're not really the same font... but could be used as 'specified alternate' fonts for folks who don't have the primary default font installed... did that make any sense?<<
It makes sense, but I'm not sure I fully agree. Anything that's cross platform is going to have to specify alternate fonts... otherwise we're just looking at Windows... so I think we have to find font families where there are close similarities, and assume that there will be specified alternatives. The trick will be to find the ones that are really close, essentially the same face.
I'm not even sure that Times Roman carries the same name across platforms. Courier has different names, and so do Helvetica and Univers. It's the way these guys get around paying royalties....
| 6:17 pm on Apr 24, 2001 (gmt 0)|
Anything that's cross platform is going to have to specify alternate fonts... otherwise we're just looking at Windows...
Not true. Macintosh computers don't come with strange 'off-brand' variants on most common fonts... actually, the default windows fonts look very similar to what I've seen on most of my Macs, with the exception of Verdana.
I've have Times, Times New Roman, Helvetica, Arial, Courier, Courier New, New Century Schoolbook and all the Lucida variants on most of my Macintosh computers. I'm not sure which were system install defaults, and which came with my software, but I don't have any Microsoft software installed at home, so it's not even a Microsoft thing...
| 5:41 am on Apr 25, 2001 (gmt 0)|
There's no Helvetica on my Windows 95... which was my point. I've always assumed that Univers was the "equivalent."
I'm sure, by the way, that Macs have better default fonts than PC... and in general probably still have some better fonts available, though maybe Windows has caught up. On the other hand, do you have "Hollyweird LET"? :) (in my font manager, it sits uninstalled but standing by).
The question, I think, is what do we have that goes beyond the Courier, Times, and Helvetica families that have cross-platform equivalents among the default fonts?
| 6:01 pm on Apr 25, 2001 (gmt 0)|
Well, I usually set up three fonts for every font family tag I create... Like Arial, Helvetica, Verdana...
And a friend of mine pointed this out: Macs all come with IE installed from the factory now, so mac users will have some of the Windows defaults installed on their machines too. Although I've never heard of Univers...
So what were your default fonts for Win 95?
| 9:26 am on Apr 26, 2001 (gmt 0)|
>default windows fonts look very similar to what I've seen on most of my Macs, with the exception of Verdana.
What do you mean? I design most my stuff on a mac and havent noticed any differences with verdana on a PC.
| 6:06 pm on Apr 26, 2001 (gmt 0)|
I didn't mean the fonts look visually different, I meant that the default font list looked slightly different. On Mac OS 8.x I don't remember Verdana being part of the default system install...
| 7:16 pm on Apr 26, 2001 (gmt 0)|
And to further clarify what I was saying... I'm sure that Helvetica on one system is essentially the same as Helvetica on another.
On the default font list, though, which is what we're talking about, not all systems have, say, "Helvetica." Windows is using another font, by a different name, that looks pretty much the same.
So, what default font families can we find across platforms that have these equivalents, and what are the names for these equivalent fonts on each system?
| 8:17 pm on Apr 26, 2001 (gmt 0)|
In standard Windows programming, if your code asks for a font and that font isn't available, Windows tries to find a font that is "similar" to the original font. The definition of similar is based off of some heuristics, such as if the original font is sans-serif, it should find another sans-serif font with similar metrics. However, the algorithm is screwy. When I was working for Microsoft as a Software Design Engineer on Access, we called that part of Windows the Window Font Randomizer.
As an example of how bad the algorithm is, in Windows 3.1, there was a screen font only (not TrueType) called "System". If you created an Access form using System and tried to print it on a PostScript printer, you ran into problems. PostScript has something like 14 pre-installed fonts. Windows tried to map System to one of the 14 fonts and failed to find a close match. So it arbitrarily picked the last one. Unfortunately, that happened to be Zapf Dingbats. So some form that was perfectly readable on the screen came out looking like it was swearing at you when printed.
Now that should not be a problem with modern browsers using CSS since you should be able to set a family of fonts to pick from, and if the first one doesn't match it should try the additional fonts until it finds one that is actually installed. The font-matching, however, is done simply by comparing the name of the font asked for to the font installed on the system. If the font with the same name installed on the end-user's machine has different metrics than the font on the web designer's system, you could wind up with a very weird looking page. Metrics are the measure of the width/height/leading/kerning/etc. of the font.
I now return you to your regularly scheduled program.
Edited by: Xoc
| 8:45 pm on Apr 26, 2001 (gmt 0)|
Here's Woz's roughly compatible font family list (from: [webmasterworld.com...] ):
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
Some of these fonts I've never heard of... but the one's I do know certainly look like they match up pretty well. Apple installs a much larger font base than Windows, but the list of fonts from one system to the next is very inconsistent.
However, (like I mentioned) since all new Macs come with IE installed, they will also include the 'core' MS fonts installed from the factory... even if the end user throws away IE, I've never heard of anyone purging their fonts folder of the accompanying fonts. Many older macs will also have at least one MS program on them... Word, IE, etc., or at least one graphics program (which often include a full complement of 'standard' fonts).
But as long as your font tag or CSS declaration includes the term 'sans-serif' or 'serif' as the last font in the group, at least the end user will see the right 'type' of font.... Which is apparently a better end result than the Windows Font Randomizer. LOL...
| 2:37 pm on Apr 30, 2001 (gmt 0)|
Robert Charlton asked me to add my thoughts to this thread.
For the short term the exercise of compiling a list of the most common fonts on all systems is a good idea and I will probably use the one Mivox compiled above. However, as someone coming from the print design world, I have always found it apalling that the web designer cannot control the font the end user sees. Well, gladly I think those days are over. All my recent research tells me that embedded open type and unicode will be the norm in a very short time, particularly for those developing multi-lingual sites but also for people like myself who want the same controll over fonts that we have in print.
Embedded open type fonts on sites will mean that any user on a unicode enabled machine will be able to open a site in any language and, without having to have special language kits or software, be able to see the site in it's native script and font whether that is Traditional Chinese, Hebrew, Thai, etc. The only drawbacks right now are that there just aren't that many open type fonts out there yet (Adobe has the most) and that not all systems yet suppport unicode.
For designers open type means that we will be able to use the thousands of fonts we are used to drawing from in the print world and be confident that they will display properly on almost every system.
Now if we could just get them to anti-alias.
| 4:22 pm on Apr 30, 2001 (gmt 0)|
typophile, mivox - Thanks.
It sounds like embedded fonts may get here eventually, but for a while this will create one more variable, which is how many users have it installed on their machines?
Woz's list is a helpful guide if we're really stuck with the Times and Helvetica families, but that's as far as it goes. It doesn't make any fine distinctions. Ultimately, I think, all it's saying is that any serif face on the list will default to Times/Times New Roman, and any sans-serif face to Arial/Helvetica.
Using the commonly installed default faces, is this the best that we can do right now, or are there other faces which have closer cross-platform equivalents?
| 6:18 pm on Apr 30, 2001 (gmt 0)|
Robert... afaik, we're stuck with the very very basics until embedded fonts become the norm. And believe me, I can't wait. Choosing fonts is one of my favorite parts of print design... and I'd love to be able to have that kind of flexibility online.
OTOH, not being able to use more than a handful of fonts online has *really* helped key me in to the finer points of the other aspects of design... (layout, color, etc.). So maybe a short sentence served in font-deprivation h*ll has really done me some good as a designer overall...
a unicode enabled machine will be able to open a site in any language and, without having to have special language kits or software, be able to see the site in it's native script and font whether that is Traditional Chinese, Hebrew, Thai, etc.
I thought unicode was just another way of representing individual letters/symbols (such as & #64 ; instead of @)? If you type out a word in unicode, the letters in that word will remain the same no matter what language/font you have as your default. If I write an english word in unicode, and someone with a hebrew font opens the page, it will still show the hebrew equivalents of the letters in the english word... unless I used letters which don't have Hebrew equivalents, in which case things get even worse.
| 6:38 pm on Apr 30, 2001 (gmt 0)|
Unicode is an international standard for how to represent characters. Some time ago, someone noticed that if you add up all the characters for the major languages in the world, ~17,000 for traditional Chinese, ~7,000 revised Chinese, ~4000 for Korean, etc., you still wound up with less than 65535 characters. So two octets (bytes) can represent any character in any language. So they took all those characters and assigned a number to each one. That's Unicode. The encodings for those characters can be found at [unicode.org ]. There are also ways of extending Unicode, so, for example, someone did a set of encodings for Klingon.
You can encode arbitrary Unicode symbols by using number; in your HTML.
The one problem is that just because there is a Unicode number for a symbol, doesn't mean that the end-user has a font capable of displaying that symbol.
| 9:13 pm on Apr 30, 2001 (gmt 0)|
>The one problem is that just because there is a Unicode number for a symbol, doesn't mean that the end-user has a font capable of displaying that symbol.
Exactly; thus the need to embed the font in the html ergo the beauty of a unicode/embedded open type solution for sites in different languages/scripts.
| 9:30 pm on Apr 30, 2001 (gmt 0)|
But unicode won't solve that problem, as far as I understand it.
For instance: there is no single-letter equivalent in the Roman alphabet for the Hebrew letter "Shin", and there's no Hebrew single-letter equivalent for the Roman letter "Z"... so whether I use the unicode for "Z", or simply type the letter "Z", the Hebrew font user will still not be able to view it correctly in their Hebrew font..
And if I type the word "horse" in unicode/english, someone in France is still going to see the letters H-O-R-S-E... they won't see the french equivalent for the word.
So I really don't see how unicode will solve any problems for an international website. And, AFAIK, all major browsers correctly interpret unicode today...
| 2:10 am on May 1, 2001 (gmt 0)|
A ֞ is the Hebrew 'shin' (which if you have a font capable of displaying it, looks like this: ֞). Unicode doesn't do translation. Excerpts from the CSS2 spec [w3.org] (all from section 15):
In the CSS2 font model, as in CSS1, each user agent has a "font database" at its disposition. CSS1 referred to this database but gave no details about what was in it. CSS2 defines the information in that database and allows style sheet authors to contribute to it. When asked to display a character with a particular font, the user agent first identifies the font in the database that "best fits" the specified font (according to the font matching algorithm) Once it has identified a font, it retrieves the font data locally or from the Web, and may display the character using those glyphs.
In light of this model, we have organized the specification into two sections. The first concerns the font specification mechanism, whereby authors specify which fonts they would like to have used. The second concerns the font selection mechanism, whereby the client's user agent identifies and loads a font that best fits the author's specification.
How the user agent constructs the font database lies outside the scope of this specification since the database's implementation depends on such factors as the operating system, the windowing system, and the client.
This property specifies a prioritized list of font family names and/or generic family names. To deal with the problem that a single font may not contain glyphs to display all the characters in a document, or that not all fonts are available on all systems, this property allows authors to specify a list of fonts, all of the same style and size, that are tried in sequence to see if they contain a glyph for a certain character. This list is called a font set.
The generic font family will be used if one or more of the other fonts in a font set is unavailable. Although many fonts provide the "missing character" glyph, typically an open box, as its name implies this should not be considered a match except for the last font in a font set.
So what happens is that if you try to display a 'shin', a web browser is supposed to look through your font list looking for a font that has a glyph for 1438. If it does, then it will display it using the first font that has a 1438. If it looks through all the fonts in the CSS font list and doesn't find a representation for 1438, it displays an open box.
| 6:59 am on May 1, 2001 (gmt 0)|
Back to the question of cross platform default fonts... here's a note on the topic from a designer friend:
"I think the most important attempt to extend typographic support on the web is Microsoft's "core fonts" for the web. You can see 'em at [url=www.microsoft.com/typography/fontpack]www.microsoft.com/typography/fontpack[/url] .
"Microsoft has been bundling these with various of its programs for a couple of years now, and they are in wide use. Plus you can download them for free for Mac or PC. I think it's really a pretty successful selection, much as I hate to say anything good about Microsoft -- although I'm not sure about Webdings.
"A couple of random notes:
1. Book Antiqua is Microsoft's name for the very useful font Palatino, which is likely to be on a lot of machines.
2. Both the PC and the Mac have a font called Symbol,which have much the same characters, but they are mapped differently, so you absolutely cannot use it across platforms."
Does anyone know how widely distributed the fontpack is? I'm guessing that it's probably not universal enough to treat it as a default....
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