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Web-Safe Fonts are those that are common to the primary computing platforms. Because designers can never be absolutely sure which font a user may have on his or her system, browsers support what are called Font-families. A Font-family is basically a list of fonts used to render the targeted text. Ideally, the user will have the first font listed in the Font-family, so that the Browser will use that to render the text. If that first choice is not available, the Browser moves on and chooses the second font found in the Font-family.
If that's not available it moves to the third, and so on. The final member of a Font-family is the Generic Font in that category, like serif or sans-serif. Let me show you how Dreamweaver makes it easy to assign a Font-family. We'll use one of the Dreamweaver sample layouts by going to File > New. Make sure you're choosing Blank Page, HTML Page Type, and then under Layout choose 2 column fixed, left sidebar, header and footer.
Click Create and that will give us a basic page to work with. In the CSS Styles panel I'll go and click on Current and there you can see that the current font is listed. It's Verdana, Arial, and to see the rest of it we can go ahead click the Edit Rule button: Helvetica and sans-serif. So they're using a sans-serif font and that's for all of the text here. Let's go ahead and change that to a serif font. So in the Font-family list, I'll open that up and choose Serif font, Palatino Linotype, Book Antiqua, Palatino and serif.
When I click OK, you can see a pretty significant change to the text. Now one very solid design technique is to use one type of font for the body text and another type for headings. Since we already have a serif family for the page's text, let's create a new CSS rule to render all the headings in a sans-serif font. So we'll go back to our CSS Styles panel and I'll click on New CSS Rule here at the very bottom.
Because we're creating a Rule for a series of tags, we need to change the Selector Type to Compound, and then we'll enter in our list of heading tags which is h1, h2, h3, h4, h5 and finally h6. And let's just go ahead and keep this Rule definition in this document only. I'll click OK, and from our Font- family, let's choose Trebuchet MS, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif.
When I click OK you can see the changes immediately applied. Feel free to try out the various existing Web Safe font-families in Dreamweaver. As I said you can access them either from the CSS Definition dialog box, as we just did or from the CSS Tab of the Property Inspector. It's a really good idea to familiarize yourself with these readily available options, although as you'll learn in the Defining New Font-families video in this chapter, you can also create your own.
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