skip to main content

TAMU Webmaster's Blog

Information and insight from the A&M Webmasters

Fun with Fonts, Part 2

August 7th, 2007 by tamuwebmaster

As Erick was saying, font choice plays a big part in the design of your site. The allusion to the initial designer Erick mentioned was actually a “heated discussion” we had a while back on a site. We were dealing with a site which due to the text was causing all kinds of ruckus. I kept asking him to shrink it down in order to make the text seem less heavy.

I was using the default font size and  we had picked a standard font-family: “Verdana, Arial, Helvetica…” the usual suspects, but I kept wondering if Erick was having some kind of big text thing going on.

The main issue? Verdana! According to Microsoft, Verdana was

“developed to ensure that the pixel patterns at small sizes are pleasing, clear and legible. Commonly confused characters, such as the lowercase i j l, the uppercase I J L and the numeral 1 have been carefully drawn for maximum distinctiveness – an important characteristic of fonts designed for on-screen use. “

Because of that, Verdana maintains a larger x-height, wider letter footprint, and looser spacing than most other common Web-typical fonts at the same size. However, that means some dramatic differences between fonts. The reason Erick and I were having such a disagreement was that his Opera browser on Linux had some sans-serif or Helvetica (can’t remember) and I with my Mac had Verdana. We were both right. In Arial, Sans Serif, and even Helvetica, the page looked fine, but in Verdana the text was overpowering and cramped.

Take a look at Stephen Poley’s “Web Matters” article for a much more lucid  explanation, but Erick and I both agree that Verdana will be taken out of our font-family choices in our CSS for all of our forward development.

We’ve also suggested to the Brand Guide folks that it not be included in their choices. Even though Microsoft and others say that Verdana “resembles humanist sans serifs such as Frutiger” and Frutiger is the University’s choice for sans-serif font in our Brand Guide, it’s not worth the headache.

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007 Miscellaneous
Share this article

2 Comments to Fun with Fonts, Part 2

  1. While the site is somewhat dated, the entire “Web Matters” site ( is an excellent primer for doing things the right way.

  2. Erick on August 8th, 2007
  3. I’m surprised this article was published without some mention of the scourge that is “Comic Sans”!

  4. Dave Birch on March 20th, 2008

Leave a comment