Using Custom Fonts on the Web – A Brief History

We’ve come a long way since the days of the old <font> tag (thank goodness), and now the standard “web fonts”–those that can reasonably be expected to be installed on most machines, plus a list of fall-back options–are becoming increasingly anachronistic.

I just installed this instance of WordPress, and with just two lines of code I was able to change the blog and post titles to display in a  fancy sans-serif font I’ve never even heard of before: “Terminal Dosis Light” was designed by Edgar Tolentino and Pablo Impallari.

This was made possible by the magic of Google Web Fonts, which recently rolled out a very nice update. Oh, Google, where were you five or six years ago when all my freelance clients wanted custom typography all over their sites? Oh yeah, you were busy being a search engine.

Let’s take a look back at how we went from the font tag, through some creative workarounds, and finally back to today’s simple standards-based solutions.

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