Typography on the Web

I thought it was about time I posted on the Web Services blog. Michael has suggested that I write something about typography on the web so here goes.

First a few comments about typography as part of the Edge Hill University brand. The new logo uses FF DIN Medium in lowercase, an extremely smart and popular contemporary font. Linotype’s ITC Conduit font is used for uppercase headings in brochures and in the prospectus. Both of these fonts are lovely but unfortunately ubiquitous, this could mean that their longevity is limited and that we may end up with a dated logo quicker than we think.

These fonts can only be used as graphics on our website; we cannot use them for HTML text as this is reliant on the user having them installed on their PC, which isn’t likely. So we have a limited selection of common and unloved fonts to use, they are Arial, Georgia, Times, Verdana and Trebuchet.

Luckily with CSS we can imitate some of the typesetting techniques used in print design, for example Tracking is called Letter-Spacing and Leading is called Line-Height, not particularly inspiring names I know. Unfortunately we cannot structure lines of type in tidy pyramids that flow neatly down the page, the line ends when it ends, so the text rarely flows.

Internet Explorer 7 now uses anti-aliased text which means that letters are no longer pixelated and have smooth rounded edges. Unfortunately this means that Verdana, which looks neat and tidy on old browsers, now reveals its true form.

Anti-aliased text is here to stay on the web and luckily Microsoft have a new font package called The Microsoft ClearType Collection which is designed to look good on screen as well as in print.

Cleartype fonts

The new fonts all begin with C, which is helpful for designers like me who have too many fonts installed on their computer. Their names are Calibri, Cambria, Candara, Consolas, Constantia, and Corbel, which sound like models of Vauxhall cars from the eighties. My favourite is Constantia, a very nice serif font that could replace Georgia in the affections of American web designers, Americans love their serifs. Calibri is a nice sans-serif and will probably be favoured in Europe. The weakest is Candara which looks a little like Trebuchet.

Unfortunately these new typefaces are free with Windows Vista so will not be universally installed until that operating system takes off, or is forced on the public. In the meantime you can download the fonts to XP as part of the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats.