Start learning with our library of video tutorials taught by experts. Get started
Viewers: in countries Watching now:
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).
Using two fonts changes the overall texture of the page. Here, we have the original Arial page. It works fine all in Arial. It has a crisp, clean look. It has good hierarchy, it's readable and the letter forms and spacing are good. But when we added the modern font, Unna, to the page, the overall feeling of the page shifted. Unna gives the page a little contrast, a little elegance. We're using Unna in the heading and the quote only. That's because the thin strokes in modern letters don't hold up on screen when used for text.
The hierarchy works as does the visual relationship between the vertical forms in Unna and the more vertical structure of Arial which is a Transitional Sans Serif font. But part of choosing a Web font is recognizing when not to use one. I still wouldn't use Unna for this site. I enjoy Unna. It's got well-proportioned letters, overall good spacing and it holds up cross-browser. But I still wouldn't use it for this site for two reasons. First, take a look at Around Town. It feels a little fuzzy around the edges.
Now I'm going to zoom in on it using Command++ on the Mac and we can see how it has these beautiful crisp thin lines. Unna is a modern font, has these amazingly thin lines. The think strokes are part of what makes Unna beautiful, but the strokes can't hold up at this size back at the original size on the screen. This is not a fault with the font; it's happening because I'm trying to use a font with such thin thins for a heading that's still too small to show off its best features.
This font would be more beautiful, more elegant and more graceful if it was used larger. The second reason I wouldn't use this font is because the name of the city is Springfield. Look at the main heading. See the awkward relationship between the F into the I. In order to keep the terminal on the F from slamming into the dot on the I, there's too much space between the letters. Many fonts for print fix this by creating a ligature. A ligature is a single character designed to represent two characters.
Here's an example of a ligature from Minion Pro. It looks sort of strange and seems big, but you can see down here in the word Springfield that it does look like an F and an I. Most Web Fonts don't offer ligatures. So it's important. It's especially important if you're webpage is for a city called Springfield to use a font that has a good relationship between the F and I. We can see the problem repeats itself down here in the word benefit. Now to be fair, neither of these problems make Unna a bad font.
They just make it an inappropriate font for this project. Now let's take a look at the PT Serif page we created back in the Transitional Fonts chapter. The PT Serif page is fine. We have good hierarchy, good chunking of information and the Serif font gives it a slightly more traditional feeling. But there are benefits to using two fonts. Here we have the site with PT Serif and PT Sans. The article headings set in the PT Sans Bold really pop out and that's because the strokes are more prominent and it knows the contrast between the bold Sans Serif heading and the regular Serif text.
I think this helps to emphasize the humanist voice of the articles. Meanwhile, in the right hand column, the date and time and place set in Sans Serif also emphasizes that this is a list of information. This is different from the articles. The Carnegie quote feels even more humanist and personal in the Serif Italic because it has the Sans Serif to contrast to. Using the PT Serif and PT Sans together doesn't just make the page more visually appealing, it could potentially make it slightly more usable.
The shift in font further chunks the information both in terms of creating stronger hierarchy and in terms of subtly associating different kinds of information on the page with different fonts. So in this page we used the PT Serif and PT Sans which were designed to work together, but earlier in the chapter, we looked for a font to pair with Crimson Text and it looked like Open Sans would be a good option. So I went ahead on my own, we didn't do this in the course together, and I made a page using Crimson Text and Open Sans.
I used the PT Serif and PT Sans model as my guide that is I use the same layout in terms of where to use the Serif versus the Sans Serif, where to use regular, bold and italic. So I set up this page with Crimson Text and Open Sans and the two work fine together, but I'm not sure they're a perfect pair. Now, this is a personal preference and other typographers might disagree with me completely, but I think the Open Sans gets a little too open and bubbly here compared to the darker, inkier, more traditional look of the old styled Crimson Text.
It's not a bad pair here where the headings really contrast with the text. But over here under the links, they don't feel like the best match to me. I think they're a little bit too different. If I look at this a in Departments, it's a little bit bubbly compared to the closed counter form on the Old Style a there in Popular. And it really sort of bothers me here over in the quote where the Old Style Italic is used. It feels so narrow and inky. I'm not quite sure I would pair these fonts. But again, another typographer might say, I like the contrast.
I would use these two because of the contrast. I'd like to compare this one here with the Crimson Text which, by the way, was so inky and dark, I actually had to use that sort of lighter brown color to pull it back a little. Let's compare that if you keep your eyes right there to the one in the PT Sans and Serif and there's just more continuity here. That's what I prefer. Again, somebody else might say no, I love the contrast. I think using the PT Serif and PT Sans actually doesn't have enough contrast. So at some point, as with all visual arts, typography does become a matter of taste. Either of these two would actually be a pretty good combination and I have to admit; if we look at the original page set all in Crimson, you see this looks very old-fashioned and going back to the one with the Open Sans, it definitely pulls the page into this century.
It doesn't feel quite so old and traditional. But I would point out that the Crimson Text Italic has a problem with the F-I pair as well and it doesn't have the problem appear with the main heading but down here in the italic, it's driving me a little batty. It's beginning to read benef it its people. So if I were to use the Crimson Text, I would not use italic for this quote. It would probably work fine for another quote. The final page we're going to look at was our Merriweather page. This is the original Merriweather page we made and as you'll remember, we added Ruluko in place where we might have used italics.
It doesn't make a big difference in the texture of the page, but it does give us a slight break in the texture for the quote. So there are multiple ways to mix and match fonts on the page and there are countless fonts to consider when creating a font pair. I recommend keeping an eye on the structure, weight and overall texture of the fonts you're considering. So you can pick two fonts with a good balance of similarity and contrast. I also recommend keeping your eye and how the fonts actually behave in context. Do they do the job you need them to do? Be willing to change one of the fonts if necessary.
There are currently no FAQs about Choosing and Using Web Fonts.
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.