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CSS font stacks by classification

Wrien by Frode Helland

When Johann Gutenberg printed his famous Bible more than 600 years ago, the only typeface available was his own. Since the invention of moveable lead type, throughout most of the 20th century graphic designers and printers have been limited to one – or perhaps only a handful of typefaces – due to costs and availability.

Since the birth of desktop publishing and the introduction of the worlds first WYSIWYG layout program, MacPublisher (1985), the number of typefaces available – literary at our fingertips – has grown exponen- tially. Still, well into the 21st century, web designers find them selves limited to only a handful.

Web browsers depend on the users own font files to display text, and since most people don’t have any reason to purchase a typeface, we’re stuck with a selected few. This issue force web designers to rethink their approach: leing go of control, leing the end user resize, restyle, and as the dynamic web evolves, rewrite and perhaps also one day rearrange text and data. As a graphic designer usually working with static printed items, CSS font stacks is very unfamiliar: A list of typefaces were one take over were the previous failed, in- stead of that single specified Stempel Garamond 9/12 pt. that reads so well on mae stock.

Am I fighting the evolution? I don’t think so. Some design principles are universal, independent of me- dium. I believe good typography is one of them. The technology that will let us use typefaces online the same way we use them in print is on it’s way, although moving at slow speed. While we’re waiting – and even when we get there – the need for fallback options is evident.

This article connect fonts across multiple platforms by visual appearence, giving web designers an ex- panded overview of their possibilities. The historical classification help bringing typographic principles to the Web, without leing go of it’s dynamic nature.

Sources: hp://www.apaddedcell.com/web-fonts hp://www.webspaceworks.com/resources/fonts-web-typography/48/ hp://support.microso.com/kb/837463 h p : / / e n . w i k i p e d i a . o r g / w i k i / L i s t _ o f _ M i c r o s o _ W i n d o w s _ f o n t hp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Core_fonts_for_the_Web s h p : / / e n . w i k i p e d i a . o r g / w i k i / L i s t _ o f _ f o n t s _ i n _ M a c _ O S hp://webtypography.net/fontmatrix/ hp://www.microso.com/typography/fonts/unix.htm hp://andrew.triumf.ca/fonts/fonts.html hp://mondaybynoon.com/2007/04/02/linux-font-equivalents-to-popular-web-typefaces/ hp://www.sabi.co.uk/Notes/linuxFonts.html _ X

Notes: The percentage numbers for Linux fonts are based on Codestyle’s survey, dated June 6th 2009. Only Linux fonts with more than 70% coverage were picked.

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