Pin Me

The Webmaster's Font Guide to Web Safe Fonts

written by: Lucinda Watrous•edited by: Robin L.•updated: 2/16/2010

Web safe fonts are those that can be viewed the same no matter the computer system or browser being used to view a particular website. This font guide will help webmasters in choosing web safe fonts for their designs.

  • slide 1 of 1

    Web Designers must be careful of the fonts they decide to use in their designs because of the fact that not all fonts are available on all computer systems, and many people will not know which font to go download to view the website properly, because the computer will render the font as one already installed on its system. This very fact has led to a list of web safe fonts that are generally found on all computer systems so as to ensure that everyone views the site the same.

    Remember though, using CSS, you can specify a set of fonts for the computer to use. When it does not have the first one in the list, it will go through the list until it finds one it has and use that font to display the site.

    These web safe fonts are the ones that come on Windows and Mac computer systems and those that come with Internet Explorer. The fonts that are the best to use are:

    • Andale Mono: Internet Explorer font
    • Apple Chancery: Mac font
    • Arial: Internet Explorer font
    • Arial Black: a bolder version of Arial, also an Internet Explorer font.
    • CAPITALS: Mac font, not available prior to 1999.
    • Charcoal: Mac font, not available prior to 1999.
    • Chicago: Mac font, replaced with Charcoal, yet still available on all Mac systems.
    • Comic Sans: the default cursive font for Internet Explorer
    • Courier and Courier New: Both Mac and Windows font.
    • Fixedsys: a Windows font used only at 9 points for DOS and low level tasks.
    • Gadget: Mac font post 1999.
    • Geneva: Mac font close to MS Sans Serif.
    • Georgia: Internet Explorer font, designed for use on the world wide web.
    • Helvetica: Mac system font since 1984, very close to Arial.
    • Hoefler Text: Mac font post 1999.
    • Impact: Internet Explorer font.
    • Monaco: Mac font, used at 9 points for low level tasks much like fixedsys.
    • MS Gothic: Windows system font dating back to Windows 95.
    • MS Sans Serif:Windows system font.
    • MS Serif: Windows System font.
    • New York: Mac font close to Times New Roman.
    • Palatino: Mac font
    • Sand: Mac font
    • Skia: Mac font
    • System: Windows system font that can only be used at 10 point size.
    • Tahoma: Windows system font hardly used on the web but present on very old PC's.
    • Techno: post 1999 Mac font.
    • Terminal: System font similar to fixedsys.
    • Textile: post 1999 Mac font.
    • Times: Mac font similar to Times New Roman.
    • Times New Roman: The most commonly serif based font seen on the web because it is default for most; Internet Explorer font.
    • Trebuchet MS: Internet Explorer font much like verdana.
    • Verdana: Internet Explorer font, thought to be the most readable font on the screen.
    • VT-100: Mac Font similar to FixedSys and Terminal.

    If you choose not to use a web safe font, to ensure that it gets viewed properly, the best way to do this is to create a JPEG or GIF file of the text, but you should also keep in mind that this will increase page size and thus, page load time. If choosing to use a non-web safe font this way means that your pages will take forever to load, it's not worth the exchange.