Website Browser Safe Fonts

Browser Safe Fonts

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I have been asked many times why people always use Times New Roman or Arial on their websites. Unfortunately, the reason is very simple. There are only a handful of fonts that look similar that are installed by default on both Windows and Macs. Consequently, these "browser safe fonts" find their way into almost every website out there. We've compiled an image from screen shots from a Windows machine and a Mac to show the browser safe fonts and how they compare on each platform.

The black text is Windows and the blue text is from a Mac.

List of 
browser safe fonts

As you can see, even the so called "similar" fonts don't always look the same. My statistics professor's motto "close enough is good enough" seems to be the stance I take on these font differences. Now, although you can define numerous font-family items in your style sheet, these can greatly change the way your page lays-out on different machines. I'm more for choosing one of the browser safe fonts and using it, so I don't have to worry (as much) about how everything will look to people on Macs.

Hopefully Windows, Apple, Linux, Unix, (any other *nix system) will learn to play nice and give the web designers in the world a bigger toolbox to play with. Until then, I think we should all get a little more comfy with Arial and Times New Roman.