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Category Archives: Google Fonts
I told myself I’d only review text fonts, but every once in a while I come across a lovely display font that sings cross browser… and I’ve decided if I’m going to take the time to test and approve, I might as well share.
I recently tested and used Rochester for a client. She’s an independent children’s illustrator who’s been in the business for decades. Due to her illustration style, I needed a font that referenced handwriting, showed a slightly quirky side, and didn’t feel too elegant or messy. It also needed to work with all of the letters in her name, and the connections needed to… well… connect properly.
Rochester has a vertical stress and significant contrast between thick and thin strokes. The strong vertical strokes and the round bowl give the font a slightly “bubbly,” slightly digital feeling — not overly elegant. I have to admit, I don’t care for Rochester’s lowercase z or f, but luckily my client’s site uses neither in the heading. When I tested it cross browser, the spacing, connections, strokes, and curves all remained lovely.
Rochester comes in 1 style (as all great handwriting fonts do). It is available via Google Web Fonts.
A humanist sans serif font designed by Steve Matteson.
Open Sans was designed with an upright stress, but still feels humanist due to its open apertures, double-decker g, and humanist italic. It has a similar x-height to Verdana, but has a lighter stroke weight, and even more clarity (legibility) at smaller sizes. The bold feels a bit heavy, but retains legibility. There is also a semi-bold for use when the bold is too heavy.
Ubuntu has some quirky elements, such as the corners created where shoulders meet stems on the letters a, r, n, m, h, p, q, and u. The quirks don’t undermine the overall texture, rhythm, or readability of the font, but it does give text a slightly “futuristic” feel which may or may not be appropriate for a project.
Even with the “futuristic” feeling, I categorize Ubuntu as a humanist sans because it has generous apertures, bowls with implied stress (on the b, d, q, p), a curved foot on the lowercase l, and a relatively humanist italic.
Ubuntu’s x-height is slightly smaller than Verdana, yet holds up very nicely at smaller sizes due to generous apertures and bowls. The bold weight is a bit heavy for my taste, though it is still legible on screen. While a semi-bold is available, it is not heavy enough to create a good contrast to the regular weight.
A serif font designed by Alexandra Korolkova, Olga Umpeleva, and Vladimir Yefimov and released by ParaType in 2010.
PT Serif is primarily a Transitional font; it feels more “idealized” than “written.” It has more contrast between thick and thin strokes than you’ll see in an Old Style font, and it has a vertical stress. Terminals and serifs feel more stylized than pen-formed.
PT Serif has a slightly larger x-height than Georgia, and holds up well at smaller sizes. It also pairs beautifully with its companion font, PT Sans.
A serif font by Eben Sorkin. I categorize Merriweather as an “Other Serif” font, because it does not fall neatly into any of the general historic categories commonly used to describe serif type.
Merriweather gracefully mixes-and-matches various historic approaches to font design. Head serifs and some terminals feel pen-formed, while foot serifs are reminiscent of delicate slab serifs. It has a large x-height, and generous apertures. It is extremely readable at smaller sizes, and the bolder weights are well balanced and don’t get too heavy on screen. I’ve spent some time using this font this summer, and it is one of my favorite fonts for web text.
Merriweather currently has 4 weights available via google webfonts. There is not an italic yet, but Sorkin’s blog promises one is in the works. As well as a sans serif version! Keep an eye on this font as it develops! It’s readable, beautiful, and holds up well cross browser.