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Declaring font families

From: Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training

Video: Declaring font families

Using CSS gives you an amazing amount of control over your Web site's typography, but it doesn't change that the fact that we're still restricted to using standard font-families. Since HTML does not store font information, your Web page relies on the client's machine to have the requested font installed. If it's not available, another one is substituted. With CSS, not only can you control which font is initially requested but which ones should be used for substitution as well.

Declaring font families

Using CSS gives you an amazing amount of control over your Web site's typography, but it doesn't change that the fact that we're still restricted to using standard font-families. Since HTML does not store font information, your Web page relies on the client's machine to have the requested font installed. If it's not available, another one is substituted. With CSS, not only can you control which font is initially requested but which ones should be used for substitution as well.

The way this works is that if you only request one font-family, if the client machine doesn't have it installed, the browser will then substitute its default font. Since you have no control over what someone has selected as their own default font, a better approach is to declare multiple fonts which will continue to go down the list until an installed font is found. Your final declaration should be a generic font-family, such as serif or sans serif. That way, in the unlikely event that none of your requested fonts are loaded, at least the text will display in the desired type of font.

In CSS terminology, this is what we call a font stack. Let's take a look at how Dreamweaver tackles the process of declaring font stacks and then create our own custom stacks to use within our site. So here we have the mission.htm opened up. So one of the things we want to do is take all of the heading 1s in our main content region and change that font. Currently, if I click inside this heading, Who we are, I can see down at the Properties Inspector that's being defined as Georgia, Times New Roman, Times and Serif. Now it's inheriting that value from the body tag, but what's going to happen is a browser is going to open this page, and this page is first going to say, "Excuse me. Do you have Georgia installed?" If the answer is yes, it will display the font in Georgia.

If not, it'll then say, "Well, what about Times New Roman? What about Times?" Or finally, it might say, "Okay, well, just give me your default serif font if none of those other fonts are available." So we have several fallback fonts here. Okay. We want to use the font that's a little bit less of the standard font. One of the interesting things that have happened over the past few years is that the numbers of installed fonts that are broadly installed on computers all across the world are increasing. So we are increasingly not limited to just Georgia, Arial, Verdana, Times New Roman.

We have a few fonts now that are widely accepted enough to where we can start using them in our font stacks. Now one of the fonts that I'm going to use here is called Chaparral Pro, and that's a font that's installed with the Creative Suite and widely installed in the machines all across the world. Of course, it's not as widely installed as Georgia or other fonts. So it's one of those fonts where you're going to need to declare within the font stack some common fonts as a fallback for this. So how do we go about declaring a custom font stack? Well in Dreamweaver if we grab the pulldown menu for our font here, we can see that Dreamweaver actually comes with a lot of pre-installed stacks. Look at all these: Verdana, Geneva, sans serif, Georgia, Courier, Arial. There is a whole list of these things that are predefined.

Well, Chaparral is not one of them. So we need to go ahead and add this, but I want to do this in the course of defining something for our heading 1s in our main content. Right now, we'd be editing the font stack for the body, and that's not something I want to do. So I'm going to make sure, again, I've clicked inside this heading 1. I'm going to go over to my CSS Styles panel, and I'm going to scroll down, not too far, until I find #mainContent h1. Cool. I'm just going to double-click on that to bring up my CSS Rule Definition dialog box. And now I can return to that dropdown menu for the font family, and we'll be affecting the proper selector.

Okay, so since I don't see any of these presets that really do what I need it to do, I'm going to go right down here to the last option, which is Edit Font List. Now this gives me the ability to delete font stacks, add new ones, move font stacks up, move them down the list, that sort of thing, rearrange them. What I want to do is I want to go through the Available Fonts. So right here all the fonts are installed on my machine, and if I just type in C, that's going to move me down to my Cs, and I'll just keep browsing down until I find Chaparral Pro. There it is.

I'm going to hit the right arrow after highlighting it, and it's going to add it right there. Now the first font you add is the first font in the font stack, so you want to do them in order. Now I'm going to keep scrolling up and down, and I'm going to find Cambria. That's another font that's starting to gain popularity in systems all across the world. And now I need a fallback font that's a little bit more of a standard font. So for this I'm going to switch down to my Gs, and I'm going to find Georgia. Now there're some systems that don't even have Georgia installed on it, but it's clear from these three fonts that I need a serif font.

So if I scroll all the way down to the bottom of my Available Fonts stack, I'm going to find my generic font families right down there, and fantasy might be my favorite. That sounds pretty out there, doesn't it? So I'm just going to go ahead and choose serif and add that to the end of the font stacks. So here we have Chaparral Pro, Cambria, Georgia and serif. I can also move that stack up the list a little bit, so that I don't have to scroll as far if I'm going to be using this a lot. I'm going to go ahead and click OK, and now when I grab that pulldown menu, it is the very first option.

So I'll go ahead and select that. Click OK. Now when we close that we notice that both of our headlines are now formatting in the Chaparral font. Now obviously, I have that installed on my machine, so that was pretty easy to do, but what about fonts that aren't installed on your machine? Well, you won't be able to use that particular tool to do it, but you could still hand-code those if you wanted to. So if I scroll down, I see that we have some divs down here, and they have a class called callOut. So what if I wanted these headings to be a slightly different font than all the other headings in my file? I could use that callOut h1 selector to do that.

So I'm going to use my tag selector to go find that in my source code. Now remember, I can hold my Alt key down. If you're on a Mac, you'll hold your Command+Option key down key and click. That brings up the Code Navigator, and I'm just going to find this mainContent .callOut h1. That's the one I want to use. So when I click on that, over here in Code View, that should jump me right to that selector. I'm going to create a blank line right after the last line's semicolon. So I'll create a blank line between it and the curly brace. And I'm just going to type in font-family, font-family.

Not if this is your time hand- coding, you'll notice Dreamweaver does something pretty nice for us. As we started typing, it gave us this really nice long list of properties that could set for our CSS. By continuing to type, that list gets smaller and smaller and smaller till when we get to this point, the only available option is font-family. If I hit Return, notice that it's going to go ahead and autocomplete that for me. And it's going to complete the syntax of the colon there for me. So I don't really necessarily have to remember to do that. The other thing that it does for me is it starts giving me other pieces of my interface.

So you see here, we have all those predefined font stacks. Now I want to custom font stack here. So I'm going to do this on my own. What I'm going to do now is in quotation marks I'm going to type in "Franklin Gothic Medium," all capitalized there and then close my quotation marks. So why the quotation marks? Well, if your font name includes more than one word, it needs to be in quoted in quotation marks. Otherwise, you don't need them. Then I'm going to do a comma and then Arial Narrow Bold.

Now spelling and capitalization count here. When your machine looks for this font, it's going to look for a font that is spelled exactly the same way, capitalized exactly the same way, so you want to be really careful with that. Then another comma. Then I'm just going to do Arial and then another comma, and then I'm going to do sans_serif. So that's a custom font stack. That's me building one. I'm not necessarily sure whether I have Franklin Gothic Medium installed on my machine. It does not matter. It's going to add that as the first option there. So I'm going to go ahead and do a Save All. Switch back to Design view.

And now I notice my headlines here changed to that sans serif font. So that's exactly what I wanted. Now we have our items displaying in exactly the font we want while giving ample options for users who might not have that exact font installed on their machine. Notice how easy Dreamweaver makes this process by giving us multiple default family declarations, and giving us an easy way to create our own font stacks. Now I just want to pass on a little bit of additional information here. If you're looking for some good online resources, the site codestyle.org has a great article on building better font stacks, where they list commonly installed fonts on systems, and list a few examples of font stacks that go really well together.

So I definitely advise reading more about that. The other thing that I want to mention is that there are other options for using fonts that you want. CSS3, which is the new specification of CSS, contains a property called @font-family. That allows you to point to a font that is hosted on a server online so that it doesn't have to be installed on the client machine. There have been some various murky legal issues surrounding that, and one of the things that's starting to come out is that we're seeing a brand-new service online, where companies are hosting fonts for you to use for a small fee that you can use within your site.

So if you're interested in a different approach, I would definitely advise you to read up on @font-face, so you can learn what it can do for you within your CSS.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training

135 video lessons · 89122 viewers

James Williamson

Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 57s
    1. Welcome
      1m 8s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 49s
  2. 7m 50s
    1. What is Dreamweaver?
      3m 16s
    2. Learning web design
      2m 22s
    3. Current web standards
      2m 12s
  3. 43m 9s
    1. The Welcome screen
      4m 5s
    2. Windows and Mac interface differences
      2m 23s
    3. The Application toolbar
      4m 7s
    4. The Document toolbar
      4m 40s
    5. Arranging panels
      8m 19s
    6. Managing workspaces
      7m 32s
    7. The Properties Inspector
      5m 54s
    8. The Insert panel
      6m 9s
  4. 25m 45s
    1. Basic site structure
      3m 11s
    2. File naming conventions
      1m 49s
    3. Defining a new site
      4m 35s
    4. Managing sites
      4m 51s
    5. Managing files and folders
      6m 36s
    6. Working with browsers
      4m 43s
  5. 27m 21s
    1. Creating new documents
      5m 16s
    2. New document preferences
      3m 6s
    3. Setting accessibility preferences
      4m 56s
    4. Working with starter pages
      3m 46s
    5. Managing starter pages
      10m 17s
  6. 30m 2s
    1. Basic tag structure
      2m 15s
    2. Adding structure to text
      8m 20s
    3. Creating lists
      9m 59s
    4. Getting text into Dreamweaver
      5m 59s
    5. Importing Word documents
      3m 29s
  7. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding style sheets
      2m 16s
    2. The anatomy of a CSS rule
      1m 48s
    3. Setting CSS preferences
      6m 36s
    4. The CSS Styles panel
      10m 2s
    5. Controlling CSS through the Properties Inspector
      5m 14s
    6. Using the Code Navigator
      7m 21s
    7. Using CSS Enable
      6m 45s
    8. Understanding element selectors
      8m 11s
    9. Understanding class selectors
      8m 49s
    10. Understanding ID selectors
      5m 59s
    11. Understanding descendant selectors
      6m 51s
    12. Attaching external style sheets
      7m 44s
  8. 1h 47m
    1. Working with units of measurement
      7m 11s
    2. Declaring font families
      9m 39s
    3. Controlling font sizing
      9m 9s
    4. Controlling weight and style
      8m 0s
    5. Controlling line height
      8m 29s
    6. Controlling vertical spacing with margins
      12m 3s
    7. Controlling spacing with padding
      5m 39s
    8. Aligning text
      8m 26s
    9. Transforming text
      5m 36s
    10. Writing global styles
      15m 42s
    11. Writing targeted styles
      17m 37s
  9. 1h 32m
    1. Understanding image types
      5m 3s
    2. Managing assets in Dreamweaver
      12m 51s
    3. Setting image accessibility preferences
      4m 20s
    4. Setting external image editing preferences
      3m 52s
    5. Placing images on the page
      7m 37s
    6. Photoshop integration
      5m 54s
    7. Modifying Smart Objects
      5m 51s
    8. Alternate Photoshop workflows
      8m 8s
    9. Modifying image properties
      11m 14s
    10. Styling images with CSS
      7m 11s
    11. Using background graphics
      9m 3s
    12. Positioning background graphics
      11m 6s
  10. 55m 16s
    1. Link basics
      3m 37s
    2. Setting site linking preferences
      2m 14s
    3. Creating links in Dreamweaver
      11m 1s
    4. Absolute links
      5m 8s
    5. Using named anchors
      11m 19s
    6. Linking to named anchors in external files
      2m 44s
    7. Creating an email link
      5m 24s
    8. Creating CSS-based rollovers
      13m 49s
  11. 1h 34m
    1. CSS structuring basics
      2m 56s
    2. The Box Model
      13m 21s
    3. Understanding floats
      6m 53s
    4. Clearing and containing floats
      8m 56s
    5. Using relative positioning
      4m 8s
    6. Using absolute positioning
      7m 18s
    7. Creating structure with div tags
      12m 7s
    8. Styling basic structure
      10m 34s
    9. Creating a two-column layout
      10m 37s
    10. Using Live View and CSS Inspect
      7m 51s
    11. Using Browser Lab
      9m 39s
  12. 56m 22s
    1. Reviewing table structure
      7m 41s
    2. Importing tabular data
      5m 13s
    3. Creating accessible tables
      9m 56s
    4. Using thead and tbody tags
      4m 0s
    5. Basic table styling
      8m 45s
    6. Styling table headers
      7m 52s
    7. Styling column groups
      4m 22s
    8. Creating custom table borders
      5m 1s
    9. Styling table captions
      3m 32s
  13. 1h 43m
    1. How forms work
      3m 0s
    2. Reviewing form design
      3m 2s
    3. Creating accessible forms
      7m 33s
    4. Setting form properties
      4m 6s
    5. The fieldset and legend tags
      4m 32s
    6. Inserting text fields
      5m 58s
    7. Inserting list menu items
      5m 26s
    8. Inserting checkboxes
      7m 50s
    9. Inserting radio button groups
      6m 22s
    10. Inserting text areas
      4m 12s
    11. Inserting submit buttons
      3m 37s
    12. Basic form styling
      12m 0s
    13. Form element styling
      8m 52s
    14. Styling form layout
      11m 49s
    15. Adding form interactivity
      2m 47s
    16. Using Spry validation widgets
      12m 49s
  14. 1h 23m
    1. Planning for templates
      10m 51s
    2. Creating a new template
      10m 37s
    3. Using editable attributes
      13m 43s
    4. Creating optional regions
      6m 23s
    5. Creating new pages from a template
      9m 17s
    6. Applying templates to existing pages
      6m 9s
    7. Working with nested templates
      7m 56s
    8. Working with repeating regions
      12m 58s
    9. Modifying templates
      5m 41s
  15. 40m 14s
    1. Behaviors overview
      3m 47s
    2. Hiding and showing elements
      9m 18s
    3. Spry overview
      4m 4s
    4. Using Spry widgets
      11m 36s
    5. Adding Spry effects
      3m 6s
    6. Using the Widget Browser
      8m 23s
  16. 28m 18s
    1. Inserting Flash files
      5m 4s
    2. Setting properties for Flash
      6m 27s
    3. Dreamweaver and Flash integration
      6m 6s
    4. Encoding Flash video
      6m 10s
    5. Adding Flash video
      4m 31s
  17. 45m 28s
    1. Running site-wide reports
      6m 33s
    2. Checking for broken links
      5m 41s
    3. Checking for browser compatibility
      8m 3s
    4. Adding remote servers
      8m 0s
    5. Uploading files
      7m 20s
    6. Managing remote sites
      9m 51s
  18. 34s
    1. Goodbye

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