Verdana and other web fonts -- opinions sought

Discussion in 'HTML' started by Jim Royal, Sep 5, 2003.

  1. Jim Royal

    Jim Royal Guest

    I've been looking at web fonts lately, trying to decide whether I
    should drop Verdana from my personal site in favor of some other
    typeface. Despite the fact that it is a very readable font, I know that
    there are valid technical reasons to not use Verdana as a default font.


    There's also a good argument for not setting a font family at all
    (other than serif/san-serif). But that's a little too extreme for me.

    If I'm going to design a page, I want to actually design it. Which
    leaves open the question of picking a font that is nice and readable.

    Lucida is a good-looking font that is installed by default on a fairly
    large number of computers. It doesn't have the chunky child-handwriting
    look that some of the glyphs in Verdana has. It looks pretty good on OS
    X. But on Windows...

    <http://www.jimroyal.com/fonts/fonts_macos.html>

    <http://www.jimroyal.com/fonts/fonts_windows.html>

    These screen shots were taken on Jaguar and Win2K.

    Fact is, just about every font except Arial and Verdana looks less than
    optimal on Windows, when compared to OS X. It pains me to pick a font
    that doesn't look great on both platforms. But the choices are so few.

    So the question is... What do you think of Lucida on OS X? And is it
    minimally acceptable on Windows, compared to Verdana?

    And here's another thought: What about giving Mac users Lucida and
    Windows users Verdana?

    All opinions are most welcome.

    Jim Royal <>
    "Understanding is a three-edged sword"
    Calendar: http://jimroyal.com/calendar
    Visit http://jimroyal.com

    --
    Jim Royal
    "Understanding is a three-edged sword"
    http://JimRoyal.com
    Jim Royal, Sep 5, 2003
    #1
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  2. Jim Royal

    Augustus Guest

    "Jim Royal" <> wrote in message
    news:050920031618339091%...
    >
    > <http://www.jimroyal.com/fonts/fonts_macos.html>
    >
    > <http://www.jimroyal.com/fonts/fonts_windows.html>
    >


    The difference is that on the mac the font is bold and on windows its not

    If you like the bold font then you can just add font-weight:bold; to
    your CSS
    (for the mac, it looks like its defaulting to bold)
    Augustus, Sep 5, 2003
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  3. Jim Royal

    Headless Guest

    Jim Royal wrote:

    >There's also a good argument for not setting a font family at all
    >(other than serif/san-serif).


    Setting serif/sans-serif can also get you into trouble. The large
    x-height issue that is a big part of why Verdana is considered a poor
    choice as an author specified font is a common feature of sans-serif
    fonts in general.

    Specifying fonts for me is damned if you do, damned if you don't. If I
    want to be a choirboy then I specify Arial and I don't go <90%. If I
    decide to be naughty I use Verdana.


    Headless

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    Headless, Sep 5, 2003
    #3
  4. Jim Royal

    Jim Royal Guest

    In article <bjasar$gvig4$-berlin.de>, Augustus
    <> wrote:

    > The difference is that on the mac the font is bold and on windows its not
    > (for the mac, it looks like its defaulting to bold)


    Actually, it is not:

    <http://www.jimroyal.com/fonts/verdana.gif>

    The Mac OS simply antialiases the fonts differently.

    --
    Jim Royal
    "Understanding is a three-edged sword"
    http://JimRoyal.com
    Jim Royal, Sep 5, 2003
    #4
  5. Jim Royal

    Jim Royal Guest

    In article <>, Headless
    <> wrote:

    > Setting serif/sans-serif can also get you into trouble.


    Often, you have no choice. When making a complex document, a mixture of
    serif and sans serif is often necessary for good reabability.

    > Specifying fonts for me is damned if you do, damned if you don't. If I
    > want to be a choirboy then I specify Arial and I don't go <90%. If I
    > decide to be naughty I use Verdana.


    Arial. Ick. (Pardon me, but really. Ick.)

    --
    Jim Royal
    "Understanding is a three-edged sword"
    http://JimRoyal.com
    Jim Royal, Sep 5, 2003
    #5
  6. "Jim Royal" <> wrote in message
    news:050920031700514833%...
    > In article <>, Headless
    > <> wrote:
    >
    > > Setting serif/sans-serif can also get you into trouble.

    >
    > Often, you have no choice. When making a complex document, a mixture of
    > serif and sans serif is often necessary for good reabability.


    This has not been proven by any reading performance study I've seen.

    --
    Karl Core

    Charles Sweeney says my sig is fine as it is.
    EightNineThree, Sep 5, 2003
    #6
  7. Jim Royal

    Dylan Parry Guest

    Jim Royal wrote:

    > The Mac OS simply antialiases the fonts differently.


    Are we talking OSX here? If so, then having not used it myself, I think
    that it most likely does it the same way that a lot of Linux systems do
    it, so you'll get similar results on a Linux machine like mine :eek:)

    I have actually gotten used to this "chunky" way of anti-aliasing and the
    rare times that I use a Windows browser, I feel like the fonts are kind of
    naked and are missing something!

    --
    Dylan Parry - http://www.DylanParry.com
    Dylan Parry, Sep 5, 2003
    #7
  8. Jim Royal

    Sean Jorden Guest

    Dylan Parry <> wrote in
    news:p:

    > Jim Royal wrote:
    >
    >> The Mac OS simply antialiases the fonts differently.

    >
    > Are we talking OSX here? If so, then having not used it myself, I
    > think that it most likely does it the same way that a lot of Linux
    > systems do it, so you'll get similar results on a Linux machine like
    > mine :eek:)
    >


    I have OSX and Win2K side by side on my desktop and the Mac has beautiful
    anti-aliasing (I'm looking at a web page with Verdana fonts), noticeably
    smoother than my Win2K box, I'd say. BTW, OSX has practically nothing in
    common with Linux at the graphical display level.
    Sean Jorden, Sep 5, 2003
    #8
  9. Jim Royal

    Headless Guest

    Jim Royal wrote:

    >> Setting serif/sans-serif can also get you into trouble.

    >
    >Often, you have no choice.


    You always have a choice.

    >When making a complex document, a mixture of
    >serif and sans serif is often necessary for good reabability.


    Imo serif fonts are poorly suited for body text for screen media, but a
    serif font is the default font in every web browser I have (because
    specifying a sans serif font as the default user font normally results
    in encountering lots of micro fonts).

    >> Specifying fonts for me is damned if you do, damned if you don't. If I
    >> want to be a choirboy then I specify Arial and I don't go <90%. If I
    >> decide to be naughty I use Verdana.

    >
    >Arial. Ick. (Pardon me, but really. Ick.)


    On screen media there is little difference between the various sans
    serif fonts for normal body size text. I use Arial because it's x-height
    causes slightly less problems than other sans serif fonts.


    Headless

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    Email and usenet filter list: http://www.headless.dna.ie/usenet.htm
    Headless, Sep 6, 2003
    #9
  10. Jim Royal

    andy johnson Guest

    On Sat, 06 Sep 2003 00:32:28 +0100, Headless <> wrote:


    >On screen media there is little difference between the various sans
    >serif fonts for normal body size text. I use Arial because it's x-height
    >causes slightly less problems than other sans serif fonts.
    >
    >
    >Headless


    So if you are designing a web site and want to select 4 or so fonts
    for headers divs bodys etc., what would use? Would you use different
    fonts for lists? What about Tahoma? Is that an acceptable font?

    A Johnson

    "There would be a lot more civility in this world if people
    didn't take that as an invitation to walk all over you"
    - (Calvin and Hobbes)
    andy johnson, Sep 6, 2003
    #10
  11. Jim Royal

    Jim Royal Guest

    In article <>,
    Dylan Parry <> wrote:

    > Are we talking OSX here? If so, then having not used it myself, I think
    > that it most likely does it the same way that a lot of Linux systems do
    > it, so you'll get similar results on a Linux machine like mine :eek:)


    Yes, it is Mac OS X. The graphics engine (called Quartz) is a distant
    relative of Display PostScript. It uses PDF as its lingua franca.

    --
    Jim Royal
    "Understanding is a three-edged sword"
    http://JimRoyal.com
    Jim Royal, Sep 6, 2003
    #11
  12. Jim Royal

    Jim Royal Guest

    In article <bjavc8$mpi$>, EightNineThree
    <> wrote:

    > > Often, you have no choice. When making a complex document, a mixture of
    > > serif and sans serif is often necessary for good reabability.

    >
    > This has not been proven by any reading performance study I've seen.


    Typeography 101. It is often made a document much easier to scan if
    headers and body text are in entirely different typefaces. In print,
    this is usually san serif for headers and serif for body text. On
    screen, I usually reverse them.

    --
    Jim Royal
    "Understanding is a three-edged sword"
    http://JimRoyal.com
    Jim Royal, Sep 6, 2003
    #12
  13. Jim Royal

    Jim Royal Guest

    In article <>, Headless
    <> wrote:

    > Imo serif fonts are poorly suited for body text for screen media


    Agreed.

    > , but a
    > serif font is the default font in every web browser I have (because
    > specifying a sans serif font as the default user font normally results
    > in encountering lots of micro fonts).



    > >Arial. Ick. (Pardon me, but really. Ick.)

    >
    > On screen media there is little difference between the various sans
    > serif fonts for normal body size text. I use Arial because it's x-height
    > causes slightly less problems than other sans serif fonts.


    I understand. Arial is a readable font. It' just that I have spent so
    much time looking at Microsoft Outlook (and before that, Microsoft
    Mail), that to me, Arial practically screams: "Corporate Email!"

    It's usually last on my compatibility list.

    --
    Jim Royal
    "Understanding is a three-edged sword"
    http://JimRoyal.com
    Jim Royal, Sep 6, 2003
    #13
  14. "Jim Royal" <> wrote in message
    news:050920032110286868%...
    > In article <bjavc8$mpi$>, EightNineThree
    > <> wrote:
    >
    > > > Often, you have no choice. When making a complex document, a mixture

    of
    > > > serif and sans serif is often necessary for good reabability.

    > >
    > > This has not been proven by any reading performance study I've seen.

    >
    > Typeography 101. It is often made a document much easier to scan if
    > headers and body text are in entirely different typefaces. In print,
    > this is usually san serif for headers and serif for body text. On
    > screen, I usually reverse them.


    It might be typography 101, but it isn't Web Usability 101.

    For the last week or so, I've been pouring over actual usability studies on
    fonts and reading performance and not one supports what you say.

    --
    Karl Core

    Charles Sweeney says my sig is fine as it is.
    EightNineThree, Sep 6, 2003
    #14
  15. On Fri, 05 Sep 2003 16:18:33 -0400, Jim Royal <>
    wrote:


    [...]

    >
    >Fact is, just about every font except Arial and Verdana looks less than
    >optimal on Windows, when compared to OS X.


    Unfortunately true.

    > It pains me to pick a font
    >that doesn't look great on both platforms. But the choices are so few.
    >
    >So the question is... What do you think of Lucida on OS X? And is it
    >minimally acceptable on Windows, compared to Verdana?
    >


    On my PC, a font called "Lucida Sans" displays pretty well on IE and
    Mozilla. If a similar font on OS X is called "Lucida" perhaps you can
    specify both.

    IMO, although Helvetica is a great looking font on paper[1], on my PC
    IE does a poor job rendering it, and Mozilla doesn't even try (it
    substitutes Arial).

    >And here's another thought: What about giving Mac users Lucida and
    >Windows users Verdana?
    >


    It's an opinion, but at 1em I would actually rather have Arial than
    Verdana on a PC.

    Nick

    [1] see:

    <http://www.theonion.com/onion3730/helvetica_sweeps_fontys.html>

    --
    Nick Theodorakis
    Nick Theodorakis, Sep 6, 2003
    #15
  16. Jim Royal

    Jim Royal Guest

    In article <bjbcp3$397$>, EightNineThree
    <> wrote:

    > For the last week or so, I've been pouring over actual usability studies on
    > fonts and reading performance and not one supports what you say.


    Do any of them say the opposite, i.e., that a mono-typeface approach is
    best for complex documents online? Remember, I'm not talking about a
    blog entry. I'm talking about large documents, like technical manuals.

    --
    Jim Royal
    "Understanding is a three-edged sword"
    http://JimRoyal.com
    Jim Royal, Sep 6, 2003
    #16
  17. Jim Royal

    Jim Royal Guest

    In article <>, Nick
    Theodorakis <> wrote:

    > On my PC, a font called "Lucida Sans" displays pretty well on IE and
    > Mozilla. If a similar font on OS X is called "Lucida" perhaps you can
    > specify both.


    This is what I'm considering. Win2K and up comes with Lucida Sans, and
    Mac OS X comes with Lucida Grande. I can simply specify both in the
    style sheet.

    Glad to know at least someone likes the way it looks on Windows.

    > IMO, although Helvetica is a great looking font on paper[1], on my PC
    > IE does a poor job rendering it


    So I have noted.

    > <http://www.theonion.com/onion3730/helvetica_sweeps_fontys.html>


    Now this was a great read. Personally, I was pretty cheesed off that
    Garamond Light Condensed didn't even get a nomination! I think there
    may be collusion among the academy members.

    Thanks for the feedback.

    --
    Jim Royal
    "Understanding is a three-edged sword"
    http://JimRoyal.com
    Jim Royal, Sep 6, 2003
    #17
  18. On Fri, 05 Sep 2003 22:40:35 -0400, Jim Royal <>
    wrote:

    >In article <>, Nick
    >Theodorakis <> wrote:
    >
    >> On my PC, a font called "Lucida Sans" displays pretty well on IE and
    >> Mozilla. If a similar font on OS X is called "Lucida" perhaps you can
    >> specify both.

    >
    >This is what I'm considering. Win2K and up comes with Lucida Sans, and
    >Mac OS X comes with Lucida Grande. I can simply specify both in the
    >style sheet.
    >


    Lucida Sans is even on my Win98 PC. At least I think so. I suppose it
    could be susbstituting a look-alike, but it does resemble the font in:

    <http://www.identifont.com/show?QY>

    (I can send you some PC screen shots, if you like)

    >
    >> <http://www.theonion.com/onion3730/helvetica_sweeps_fontys.html>

    >
    >Now this was a great read. Personally, I was pretty cheesed off that
    >Garamond Light Condensed didn't even get a nomination! I think there
    >may be collusion among the academy members.


    If you like font humor, then check out:

    <http://www.ms-studio.com/typecasting.html>

    Nick

    --
    Nick Theodorakis
    Nick Theodorakis, Sep 6, 2003
    #18
  19. Jim Royal

    Phrederik Guest

    "Jim Royal" <> wrote in message
    news:050920031618339091%...
    > I've been looking at web fonts lately, trying to decide whether I
    > should drop Verdana from my personal site in favor of some other
    > typeface. Despite the fact that it is a very readable font, I know that
    > there are valid technical reasons to not use Verdana as a default font.

    <snip>
    > <http://www.jimroyal.com/fonts/fonts_macos.html>
    >
    > <http://www.jimroyal.com/fonts/fonts_windows.html>


    What resolution, etc. were you running on the Win2K box?

    www.jimroyal.com looks fine on my Windows XP PC. Of course I run at
    1600x1200 on my desktop to ensure smooth anti-aliasing.

    My big beef is that you set the font size statically, so I can't make it big
    enough to actually read. For example, default text size is "16px". That
    doesn't help me on my screen.
    Phrederik, Sep 6, 2003
    #19
  20. Jim Royal

    Headless Guest

    andy johnson wrote:

    >>On screen media there is little difference between the various sans
    >>serif fonts for normal body size text. I use Arial because it's x-height
    >>causes slightly less problems than other sans serif fonts.

    >
    >So if you are designing a web site and want to select 4 or so fonts
    >for headers divs bodys etc., what would use?


    I would suggest choosing 2; one font for all headings, and one for body
    size text, you can add one more if you want to make something stand out
    a bit, but 4 is a lot imo.

    I use the fonts that are generally installed on a clean W95/W98 install,
    so that leaves little choice. The font I use for heading depends on the
    content (formal, informal), my choice for author specified body font is
    Arial (choirboy) or Verdana (naughty mode).

    >Would you use different fonts for lists?


    I would use the same font as for body text.

    >What about Tahoma? Is that an acceptable font?


    Again, with a few exceptions ("tw cen mt" for example) there is imo
    little difference between the various sans serif fonts for body size
    text. Tahoma is slightly less risky than Verdana (x-height) and slightly
    riskier than Arial imo. But again, the differences are minimal imo.


    Headless

    --
    Email and usenet filter list: http://www.headless.dna.ie/usenet.htm
    Headless, Sep 6, 2003
    #20
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