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Maybe it is more elegant, but if you don't want cross browser, cross platform rendering issues you'll stick with Arial.

No, just put sans-serif. Windows users get arial, os x users get helvetica, Linux users get whatever. Everybody wins.

No, this is horrible advice. The difference in the fonts will make your site look completely different to people using different OSes.

As it should! ;)

Lately we've developed this fetish for sites being pixel-perfect across any display.

The web was designed to decouple the way a site was designed from the way it's displayed. To allow it to reflow, and people to use their own designs.

If you really want pixel-perfect layout, why not just use bitmaps and imagemaps ;)

Well, as long as the development request isn't for pixel perfect. Many people outside the control of development see the mockup from Photoshop and completely freak out when it doesn't match exactly. You try explaining that in the long run it doesn't matter, that browser incompatibilities prevent this, and that it will take longer to achieve that. The people "who know" what's needed don't care about that stuff.

Although, a common way to get them out of their "I know better" state is to point out the time factor and how much extra it will cost them. Suddenly they will worry over browser incompatibilities all day long.

The worse are the people that point out that the fifth paragraph on the third page ends with three words on the final line in the mockup but the website version has four words in Firefox and two words in Chrome. I just want to so tell them to just let the text flow its own way, dude. In the end I tell them in a nice way they're being silly.

When you have the ability to define custom fonts, and there's great fonts out there such as Open Sans which are supported by a whole whack of users, it doesn't make sense not to use that hand have a unified look across browsers and Operating Systems.

Note that I never said that it shouldn't be decoupled, or that people shouldn't use their own designs. But if you want people to see your site as you intended, I'd for sure want them to see it with the exact font I choose, not some close alternative.


Funnily enough, it is exactly what I was taught! I'll freely admit that I'm a 'Philistine', when to comes to these matters.

I've always taken the view that you throw the text at an engine and let it do the rendering. If it doesn't look right, the engine needs improving. Manual tweaks fall into the realm of premature optimisation, as chances are the content will change faster than the tweaks can be made.

I can see that beautiful typography is nice to have, but apart from automation, I can't see a way to apply it on a mass scale. Crafted typography is the typographic equivalent of assembly language?

No it won't, the difference between Helvetica and Arial at small sizes is barely noticeable. Furthermore, most Windows users won't have Helvetica anyway, and if they do, it looks totally broken.

The appearance does matter more for display text (logos, headings, etc.), but you're using font-face for those anyway.

Then why not use font-face for everything and have a font which can be viewed across operating systems like OpenSans?

No, you should stick with verdana. It's fully cross-platform, designed from the start to be a screen font, and generally looks better.

Alternatively, @font-face is supported by just about everything at this point, opening up the opportunity to use much better fonts, like open sans

(also, helvetica is a print font. It doesn't work for body copy at the sizes commonly used for screen text.)

Verdana is wide enough that it brings problems trying to fit links within a horizontal nav bar.

Learn something new every day. I've always used Helvetica on all my web pages at the behest of my design co-worker. He's a print designer so it makes sense now.

I hope you do test how it looks on windows? I've worked with a webdesigner that often chose fonts that worked perfectly on his mac, but looked really ugly on all windows browsers, since the fonts were unavailable and the substitutes had noticable style/width differences.

Well, it really depends on how the digitization of Helvetica that any particular user has installed is hinted. The Helvetica that comes with MacOS is quite nicely hinted, and will make for a pleasant read at most sizes.

On Windows, however, Helvetica isn't (at least from my experience) as nicely hinted, or at least doesn't play quite as well with Microsoft ClearType. And that's if it's installed, which is less likely on Windows. In that case, if your font stack specifies a fallback to Arial, which is ClearType's best friend, you'll probably be fine.

Suggest he looks at open sans. It's a fantastic screen font that works very well for large headers (especially at a lighter weight), and body copy.

I too am a fan of Verdana.

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