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This course focuses on the theories behind web fonts: what makes a good font, why different fonts look the way they do, and how fonts affect the look of a web page. Author Laura Franz covers common tasks, including downloading a font from an online source such as Typekit or Font Squirrel, implementing the font in HTML and CSS, and changing the size and line-height to improve the readability of text. The course also covers different periods of type design and explores the history behind handwritten fonts, text fonts (used for large amounts of text), and display fonts (used for headlines).
So now that we know what a Humanist Sans Serif font looks like, we need to choose one to use. The first we'll look at is PT Sans, a Humanist Sans that I've used before and really enjoy. It's available from Google Web Fonts, it's in the Trial Plan on Typekit and it's also approved for font linking via @font-face. PT Sans is a workhorse Humanist Sans. It holds up beautifully at small sizes and has good forms so it looks good big too.
It also works cross-browser. I particularly like its lowercase a. It has a traditional old-style structure to it with the small closed counter form. I also love the italic for this font. Let's scroll down and look at some more italic here. It's a bit narrower than the text, which is expected. Humanist Italics are narrower than text but the PT Sans Italic is not too narrow and I love the f, it has the extension of the stem and a little extra swoosh at the end, it feels like it's more expressive than most italic fs.
I think it's lovely. The bold is perhaps a bit bolder than I usually like but it's within range for legibility and readability. If there are two things that I wish this font could give me that it doesn't are I wish that the quotation marks were maybe just a little bit bigger, they feel little small and dark compared to this text. And I wish it had more weights and styles. It has the usual four weights and styles; Regular, Italic, Bold and Bold Italic, and in most cases that is enough.
Like I said, I use and enjoy this font. I highly recommend it. The next font we're going to look at is another favorite of mine, it's Ubuntu. Ubuntu is available at Google Web Fonts and has eight weights and styles. It has a 300, 400, 500 and 800 weight, so this bold is coming in pretty heavy but I think that's because it's in 800. If we wanted it a little lighter we could always use a 500 and use a semi-bold instead. I haven't actually used Ubuntu and that's because the u and n have a very specific shape.
If we look here at this n compared to Verdana, you can see that Verdana has a little bit of stem going up above the shoulder; and on Ubuntu it comes to a point. This gives Ubuntu a very specific texture when used for text. It has a Humanist feeling but it's also a bit futuristic as well. So I've never had the opportunity to use this font for any of the projects I've worked on, but I'm looking forward to using it someday. It holds up beautifully cross-browser, it has a good italic, it looks good both small and large, and it also has multiple weights.
The next font we're going to look at is Font Font's Meta Web Pro. Meta Web Pro is a bit narrower and has looser letter spacing than either Ubuntu or PT Sans. Its narrow bowl makes it feel a bit more vertical in text. It has a slightly smaller x-height as well so it needs to be set slightly larger in text, but it's well within range. It holds up beautifully cross-browser. I haven't used it but I've seen it used and have always enjoyed it.
It has a delightful italic and a pretty good bold. It's available in the Portfolio Plan on Typekit where it has four weights and styles available. Because it's not available to everyone we won't use this font for this course. Next we have Open Sans also available for multiple sources. It's available in the Trial Plan entire on Typekit as well as on Google Web Fonts. Open Sans has 10 weights and styles. It's another workhorse font.
It has a generous x-height and slightly narrow bowls but not too narrow and it has good letter spacing. When we look at it compared to Verdana we can see that it's very similar in structure although Open Sans has the double-decker closed loop g. The bold has good contrast to the text weight but it's not too bold, and the italic is a little bit narrower than I usually prefer. There's the bold italic. Let's go down here to the regular italic, but it's absolutely within range.
It's not too narrow. We don't have difficulty reading it. So this is a great font. It holds up cross-browser and I would use it and I'd recommend it as well. This Humanist Sans Serif font is too narrow. It gets difficult to read. We start looking space within the letters because the counter forms get very narrow. So sometimes it gets hard to read each letter. But then also this font has the very loose letter spacing, such a loose letter spacing may not be a problem with the wider font but the bowls are so narrow and the letter spacing is so wide that the letters start to look like they're floating away from each other.
Another problem with working with such a narrow font is the bold italic. You can see here on the e, that the closed counter form on this bold italic e gets very small. There was a reason I originally looked at this font. I was intrigued by the double-decker g with the opened loop. I've seen this kind of g before and it can work beautifully. But I'm not sure it works here with this font because it gives a wide horizontal element to the lowercase g, while the rest of the letters feel so tall and narrow.
We can see it here in the word reading. The letters themselves are not bad. In fact, they're well-formed and work together in a system while the spacing is loose, it's consistent. I just think this font works better bigger. If we look at the heading down here, same font, set large for a heading, it's actually quite lovely. I just don't think it works well in text. It's a little too hard to read. This last font has the exact opposite problem. The bowls are too wide. If we look at the o here, large, it's almost a perfect circle, but if we look at it here in the heading, and then in the text, it feels a little bit wider.
Now this might be a hinting problem. When fonts aren't hinted properly the pixels sort of shift around at different sizes and on different browsers, and letters can have slightly different shapes. But some of the other letters are too wide and don't fit in the system either. Let's take a look at this lower case n, it's just too wide for this system. We can see it here in the text if we read the first few words of the text: For decades, critics have predicted the end, looking at the word end, the letter n looks wider than either the letter e or the letter d on either side of it.
And that creates a little space within a word and it undermines the rhythm of reading. Finally, the link on the lowercase g is too far over to the left. The g almost starts to feel like it's bending and tipping over and it also makes the g feel a little bit too complex compared to the other letters in the system. We can see that here in the word heading, that g it looks sort of small and dark, and very complex compared to the open, light, overly wide n.
So for this chapter, we're going to use the Open Sans font. It's available to everyone, it has a wide-range of styles and weights and it's just a beautiful font.
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