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Much Ado About Browser Fonts

Much Ado About Browser Fonts

Being a designer I am constantly trying to be innovative or at least keep up with the trends of today and tomorrow. So when I go about creating a site I always want to use cool fonts that I find that would fit perfectly for the design. But then I’m reminded of how limited we are to font selection when it comes to plain text being displayed in our browsers. Designers and developers all have to follow the least common denominator rule of font choice. This kind of sucks. We have been using the same fonts choices over and over again and it is getting kind of old. Here you can see the limited choices we have; some of which aren’t even a viable choice (e.i. Comic Sans).

Well out of necessity and boredom comes a solution. Many solutions actually.

Embedded Fonts

This is an old technique that Microsoft came up with long ago when we were kids. It allows the user to embed any font they wish into their CSS file. All you have to do is create the EOT font file and put it on your server. Then link that to your CSS file and voila, you have your fonts being displayed in the browser. You find out more about it Here. Warning: this is an a very old posting.

Drawbacks: Doesn’t work on Macs or anything else but Internet Explorer (So pretty much useless).


Here is an upcoming company started in 2008 to help expand the possibilities of fonts on the web. Typekit is an online browser font distribution company (for lack of better definition).

About Typekit:

“Typekit is the easiest way to use real fonts on the web. It’s a subscription-based service for linking to high-quality Open Type fonts from some of the worlds best type foundries. Our fonts are served from a global network on redundant servers, offering bulletproof service and incredible speed.”

What they do is allow you to link to fonts they currently have under license to use on your site. They have an extensive list of fonts built up so far. I think this is a great idea and should be something to definitely look forward to in the future. Check them out HERE.

Drawbacks: It costs money $$$. There is a trial offer but is limited. If user doesn’t have Javascript turned on then it won’t work (let’s face it if this is the case they don’t deserve to see the fonts anyway).


sIFR3 is a project started a few years back to help with displaying the fonts you want on the web without any embedding of fonts. This is because it is all done through the magic of Flash.

About sIFR3:

“sIFR, or scalable Inman Flash Replacement is a technique for displaying typography on the web, without requiring your visitors to install the font you’d like to use.”

sIFR3 is what I currently I use today for any font replacement. It works great and can be completely manipulated like any regular font using CSS. Plus it has the added bonus of Flash qualities such as text effects (e.i. drop-shadows). sIFR3 is best for heading replacements but can be utilized for all text on your site. You can put as many font styles as you like at a time. There is a small learning curve to getting it up and running on your site but it is worth it.

Drawbacks: User must have Flash installed and Javascript running in their browser (if not the would-be replaced text will show which obviously can be styled using CSS. So there really is no reason not to use it.)

What do you think about the standard browser fonts? What else should be done to fix the “problem”? Do you know of any other solutions out there? Let us know.

Kristen Bachmeier
Kristen Bachmeier
Kristen Bachmeier is Atilus' Director of Operations and helps to oversee all client accounts and day-to-day operations. Kristen also has a background in digital marketing, and has been working in the digital marketing space since 2012.

Recent Comments | 2 Comments
  • admin

    Actually I did come across that a while back. This probably works well also. Thanks for pointing this other option out.

  • Zach

    Great post, couldn’t agree more that using cool fonts would be wonderful, but can be a pain. Especially if you do it the REALLY old school way of just using images. Have you heard of this:

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