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Old 03-26-2006, 07:01 AM   #1
dthomsen8
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Default Font Questions

While fiddling with my new FCA site design, I tried changing fonts to get the text "Fairmount Civic Association" to fit in a certain space in a certain size.

It seemed to me that Arial, Tahoma, and Verdana, all sans serif fonts, would put the text up with different lengths. That did not seem to be the case, so I experimented further, including some playing around on fonts on my Win98SE computer that were not on the WinXP (yet). I was considering Gill Sans and Univers fonts as substitutes.

So, it seems to me that Arial and Tahoma produce the same length for the lower case alphabet, and Verdana is longer.

Question 1: Is there any way to judge how long a text will turn out to be in a particular size font, except by trying it?

Now I tried to import a Univers font from the Win98SE computer. In MS Word this font is called "Univers" but the file name might be is "univers-.ttf" and in the font settings in Windows 98 I have a variety of Univers fonts, but no way to connect them with the names I see in the font folder c:\windows\fonts on that computer.

Question 2: How can I connect a font name in the font settings with a file name in the font folder?

Question 3: How are the font names in MS Word connected, if at all, with the font names I put into HTML, either directly in <font> or in styles in CSS?

Question 4: Should I be concerned that perhaps MS Word will render fonts placed there for comparison differently from how a browser will render the same fonts from HTML?

Question 5: Should I be concerned that perhaps different browsers will render fonts differently from the same HTML?

Of course, maybe I will place the "Fairmount Civic Association" words in an image, but I am reluctant, the results are visually not as good, and search engines won't see the text.

Last edited by dthomsen8; 03-26-2006 at 07:07 AM. Reason: Add questions
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Old 03-26-2006, 07:56 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dthomsen8
While fiddling with my new FCA site design, I tried changing fonts to get the text "Fairmount Civic Association" to fit in a certain space in a certain size.
That sort of endeavor for web pages is destined for failure. You just do not know what people are seeing (unless, of course, you specify font sizes in pixels, and then you will risk having visitors who cannot read the text at all).

Quote:
Originally Posted by dthomsen8
It seemed to me that Arial, Tahoma, and Verdana, all sans serif fonts, would put the text up with different lengths. That did not seem to be the case …
Tahoma sets narrowest, followed by Arial (by a hair). Verdana is distinctly wider. (See attached.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by dthomsen8
I was considering Gill Sans and Univers fonts as substitutes.
For the roughly 1 person in 10,000 who may happen to have those fonts by the name you specify? The rest will see something else. (I made up the statistic, but reality is something like that.)

As far as what names to use when specifying any font for HTML, you need to use all the names that various vendors and users may have on their system. But aside from the handful that are in use by 90% or more of web visitors — Verdana, Arial, Times, basically — it will not give you control if you bother to specify other fonts. The opposite, actually.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dthomsen8
Of course, maybe I will place the "Fairmount Civic Association" words in an image, but I am reluctant, the results are visually not as good, and search engines won't see the text.
Neither part of that is necessarily so. First, an image can be clear. The trick is to make sure it is the size you want (do not let browsers adjust its size) — the one I have attached is too large for your page, probably, but unless it has deteriorated in the past few seconds, it is clear and readable.

Then you place its text in a comment hidden with the image and in the alt statement (This is a clever trick from Marjolein.) It will not show on the page but will be available.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	arial_et_al.png
Views:	188
Size:	15.6 KB
ID:	487   Click image for larger version

Name:	fca_smtype.png
Views:	187
Size:	7.3 KB
ID:	488  

   
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Old 03-26-2006, 10:11 AM   #3
dthomsen8
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Default Font Questions Quoted

Quote:
Originally Posted by dthomsen8
Question 1: Is there any way to judge how long a text will turn out to be in a particular size font, except by trying it?

Question 2: How can I connect a font name in the font settings with a file name in the font folder?

Question 3: How are the font names in MS Word connected, if at all, with the font names I put into HTML, either directly in <font> or in styles in CSS?

Question 4: Should I be concerned that perhaps MS Word will render fonts placed there for comparison differently from how a browser will render the same fonts from HTML?

Question 5: Should I be concerned that perhaps different browsers will render fonts differently from the same HTML?
Apparently the answer to Question 1 is no way to know, try it. Arial is narrower, but not by much.

The other four questions are unaswered, except to say that the answers may not be relevant to the particular circumstances that got me here with questions.

I certainly understand that only the most popular fonts are worth specifying, whether serif or not, and the only other consideration is to specify a Mac font, like Helvetica, along with the Windows font, like Tahoma or Verdana. Arial may be the most popular sans serif, but I prefer to specify one of the others. I avoid Times Roman, Times New Roman, in favor of Georgia, but I don't know about a Mac equivalent.

I can use whatever font I like in an image, but my experience is that placing text, whatever font it might be, in an image means it is not as sharp as the same text provided by the browser from a user's font.
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Old 03-26-2006, 10:12 AM   #4
Bo Aakerstrom
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This page is a good place to start when deciding on what fonts to use.

It shows the most common fonts on both Win and Mac systems.
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Old 03-26-2006, 10:21 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Bo Aakerstrom
This page is a good place to start when deciding on what fonts to use.

It shows the most common fonts on both Win and Mac systems.
It is okay, but gives some very odd alternatives, especially for the Mac. And the list seems kind of out of date today.

I prefer CodeStyle, which makes some attempt to monitor current font usage on the Web. It is flawed, of course — results are in part based on a survey. But it approximates my experience.

When it comes to sans-serif fonts on the Web, I just specify Verdana, sans-serif. Visitors without Verdana will probably see Arial in Windows and Helvetica or Arial on the Mac. Seems like an easy way to get the inevitable result.

   
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Old 03-26-2006, 10:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktinkel
It is okay, but gives some very odd alternatives, especially for the Mac.
Have to take your word for that as I don't know that much about Macs and what fonts they have got.

It is of course impossible to know what fonts are installed on someone's system, but by choosing the common ones you can reduce the risk of specifying something that is not present.

Georgia is my current serif favourite and even if arial/helvetica are over used I still like them as well as verdana. Would be reluctant to use anything else really.

Came across a site with this selection recently: "Century Schoolbook, Century Schlbk, New Century Schoolbook, New Century Schlbk, Cambridge", wonder what the chances are that anyone will see this page as intended!

Last edited by Bo Aakerstrom; 03-26-2006 at 10:38 AM. Reason: "reparing" the quote
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Old 03-26-2006, 11:32 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dthomsen8
Question 1: Is there any way to judge how long a text will turn out to be in a particular size font, except by trying it?

Question 2: How can I connect a font name in the font settings with a file name in the font folder?

Question 3: How are the font names in MS Word connected, if at all, with the font names I put into HTML, either directly in <font> or in styles in CSS?

Question 4: Should I be concerned that perhaps MS Word will render fonts placed there for comparison differently from how a browser will render the same fonts from HTML?

Question 5: Should I be concerned that perhaps different browsers will render fonts differently from the same HTML?
1. There are ways to estimate in advance in print, but none would work well on the web. So no, just try it.

2. You must specify the font family name the way it appears in the user’s font menus. That may vary by platform, font maker (foundry), format (TT, OT, T1, etc.), or not. It may not match exactly the name of the font file.

3. I thought Word used font menus, so the names should be the same. Probably — Word’s weird.

4. Any application can render fonts differently if it uses its own font-writing engine, as Word very well may. Page layout (DTP) apps do, often under user control.

5. I don’t think so, aside from visual size.

   
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Old 03-26-2006, 11:39 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dthomsen8
I certainly understand that only the most popular fonts are worth specifying, whether serif or not, and the only other consideration is to specify a Mac font, like Helvetica, along with the Windows font, like Tahoma or Verdana. Arial may be the most popular sans serif, but I prefer to specify one of the others. I avoid Times Roman, Times New Roman, in favor of Georgia, but I don't know about a Mac equivalent.
I fear you are trying to complexify the font-in-browser issue. It is, perhaps unfortunately, actually pretty simple:
For sans-serif, specify Verdana, sans-serif, and people will either see Verdana or the first sans-serif font on their computer — most likely Arial on both platforms, though a few Mac users may see either Helvetica or Lucida Grande instead.

Or specify Verdana, Tahoma, sans-serif — same result, except those on both platforms who have Tahoma will get that before their default..

For serif fonts, specify Georgia, serif. People will get Georgia if they have it (and supposedly that includes 91% of Mac and 85% of Windows users on the web). Otherwise they will almost certainly get Times or Times New Roman. Maybe a few Mac users will get Hoefler Text or one of the Mac dFonts instead; and a few Windows users might get Garamond instead. But it is really, really hard to get rid of Times New Roman (or Times) on either platform.
The bottom line is that Mac and Windows web surfers have the same fonts available.

   
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Old 03-26-2006, 11:48 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo Aakerstrom
It is of course impossible to know what fonts are installed on someone's system, but by choosing the common ones you can reduce the risk of specifying something that is not present.

Georgia is my current serif favourite and even if arial/helvetica are over used I still like them as well as verdana. Would be reluctant to use anything else really.

Came across a site with this selection recently: "Century Schoolbook, Century Schlbk, New Century Schoolbook, New Century Schlbk, Cambridge", wonder what the chances are that anyone will see this page as intended!
When it comes to common web fonts, Mac and Windows users now have virtually identical lists: Arial, Georgia, and Verdana are the safest bets. This will change if/when Windows Vista and its new ClearType fonts become widely used (as those will not be available for the Mac). But for now we live in if not blissful then tentative harmony!

The problem with Arial and Helvetica is not that they are overused but that they are singularly hard to read on the screen, especially at small sizes. That design was intended for print, and it shows.

If you really list all those variants for Schoolbook, you would catch those who have one of those flavors of it available at the time they hit the web page. Wonder how many that might be — .000007%, something like that? <g>

   
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Old 03-26-2006, 12:55 PM   #10
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KT:

Visitors without Verdana will probably see Arial in Windows and Helvetica or Arial on the Mac

Disregarding people using Unix or Linux, most people will be using Windows or Mac OS, and both systems instal Verdana.

   
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