Did you know that the web browsers you use are automatically downloading and applying font packs that are not installed on your system? Web fonts, or web fonts, are an integral part of making the websites you visit every day look better and more interactive.
Learn how web fonts work and how important they are in the casual browsing experience!
Desktop Fonts and Web Fonts
In the process of using computers every day, we often have to interact with fonts. These can be fonts that come with the operating system, some coming from applications like Adobe Creative Suite or Microsoft Office, while others are built into applications that you download, or buy and install. placed on the system.
Once the font packages are installed, you can use them in applications such as word processing tools, image editing software, etc. These are collectively known as desktop fonts and they are stored locally on your computer.
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On the opposite side, there is another type of font that plays a more important role as your desktop experience transitions to the online environment. These are web fonts — web fonts — typefaces that are stored in the cloud (and then cached in your browser), and used to produce text that appears on web pages. website you visit.
History of web fonts
Back in the early days of the Internet, typography on web pages was often limited to the local fonts that were installed on your system. If a font is not installed, the site will load another standard “fallback” font instead. As a result, web designers often choose default system fonts for their websites, which makes the website interface quite boring due to the lack of variety of fonts used.
Of the font packages used on websites at the time, Core Fonts for Web was the most popular. This is basically a set of typefaces that are freely available to web designers. Includes system fonts widely used on Windows computers such as Times New Roman, Arial, Comic Sans, and Trebuchet. In addition, designers can also use font families such as Serif, Sans-Serif, and Monospace to specify a general formatting style even when a specific font is not available.
However, this changed in 2010 when Google launched Google Fonts, a huge open source repository for free fonts that can be used anywhere on the internet. Since then, other competitors, such as Adobe’s Typekit and web-hosted font plugins, have also sprung up, offering a vast and rich world of web fonts. Currently, there are millions of websites around the world that are using web fonts, giving users a more diverse and interesting experience.
How web fonts work
The largest provider of web fonts, Google Fonts, is a vast web library with over a thousand different font packs. You can use them on your site by dragging them over the CSS. At the same time, mobile developers can also access and use these font packs when creating Android apps.
When a website uses Google Fonts, it pulls a font from Google’s database and then displays the corresponding text when you visit that website in a browser. These font packs are hosted on Google’s servers and can be downloaded almost instantly. Other cloud font services work in a similar way.
Another alternative is to use embedded, self-hosted fonts on the web. This is done through Web Open Font Format (WOFF)—a compressed font file developed by Mozilla that is compatible with most modern web browsers. WOFF will be a useful solution if you want to embed a custom font that is not available in web font repositories.
Use Web Fonts
Basically, the Google Fonts repository and all the fonts in it are completely free and accessible to everyone. The fonts are all used under an open license, and many of these have become “classics” in web design, such as Roboto, Lato, and Montserrat. Google now offers a website that lists all the available fonts and allows you to try and compare them with each other. Since these fonts are freely available, you can also download them to use them on your computer.
Many web design and content management services like WordPress and Squarespace support web fonts. If you’re using a custom website, you’ll need to upload the font file to your server and use the CSS code to point to the font file you want to use.