The first business cards I ever designed turned out awful. The fonts were huge, too thick and too dark. It was an amateur job and I was indeed an amateur. My employer at the time was clueless, so I got lucky on this one. Never make the same mistake twice! While I’m not a graphic designer, I know what looks right and I know that fonts matter.
A font is a particular size, weight and style of a typeface. In simpler terms, a font is simply the way a typed character looks on screen and prints on paper. While we’ve come a long way, it’s still not perfect and, still, fonts matter.
When I got my first IBM PC, I was so confused about fonts. This was back in the day when WYSIWYG was new. My IBM PS/2 Model 55sx had Windows 3.0, one of the first operating systems where fonts mattered. The challenge in those days wasn’t so much about what you chose on the screen, but rather if your printer could actually print them. Non-postscript printers back then had preset fonts built in and if you didn’t choose a native printer font, the results were a dithered, jumbled, jaggedy mess.
Over the years, fonts and how we interact with them has changed drastically. TrueType has replaced Postscript and soon, Google Fonts will solve the problem completely.
Today, fonts print as they show on the screen, on just about any printer. But fonts on the web remind me of the days of Windows 3.0. If you create a website with a particular font, there’s no guarantee that another user will see your fonts as intended. This is due to their browser and installed fonts not recognizing the fonts you chose. Typically what happens in this case is the browser finds a close match and often, we never even know.
Enter Google Fonts. Google describes them as:
Google Fonts makes it quick and easy for everyone to use web fonts, including professional designers and developers. We believe that everyone should be able to bring quality typography to their web pages and applications.
Our goal is to create a directory of web fonts for the world to use. Our API service makes it easy to add Google Fonts to a website in seconds. The service runs on Google’s servers which are fast, reliable and tested. Google provides this service free of charge.
Now, you can choose a font family designed for the web that, through a bit of simple coding, can allow the fonts you choose to be seen anywhere, on any device or operating system. I’m a huge fan of Open Sans.
Here’s a quick primer on adding fonts to a Mac.
Here’s a few more font links, enjoy, and remember, Fonts Matter!
- dafont.com Archive of freely downloadableÂ fonts. Browse by alphabetical listing, by style, by author or by popularity.
- 1001 Free Fonts
- Adobe Fonts
If you are building a website, consider a responsive (mobile friendly) theme that uses Google Fonts. Your life will be made easier and your site will look great on any device.