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Browser Friendly Fonts Make Viewing Universal

We often get requests from clients to use particular fonts on their website. Recently the following email came into our inbox:

My question is about the fonts. When I used the WYSIWYG editor in Joomla, I was able to play with the fonts and get it to look like what I wanted. But then when I showed my friend on her computer, nothing looked the same. I wanted to use a script font for my menus, but on her computers it was all done in Arial. What did I do wrong?

The answer to this question relies on the need for universal fonts. Fonts on a web page are not stored within your code. Instead, they are called on by the code, but they must be present on the computer in order to display properly.

What fonts are universal on the web?
There are only so many fonts found in the world that typically exist on every computer platform. If you want your site to display consistently, you must choose your fonts from this list:

Arial Black
Comic Sans

Lucida Sans
MS Sans Serif
MS Serif

You'll notice that there is no script font on this list. That doesn't mean you cannot specify a script font when laying out your pages. It simply means if you do specify a script font, there is a good chance other people's computers won't have the font, in which case the browser will substitute Arial for any missing fonts.

Using a graphic instead of text
If it's really necessary to use a specific font, you might consider displaying it as an image rather than as text. If the image is too large this may slow the download speed of your web page, so take this into consideration. If you do use an image, be sure to use an ALT tag to let search engines know the description of the text in the image.

More on universal web fonts: