A good web text font makes no excuses.
It never says, “If only you could see me in print.”
A good text font usually has:
a generous x-height,
and a generous aperature.
It has generous letter spacing.
It does not have thin strokes or delicate serifs
(which can get lost on the screen).
Nor does it have strident serifs or terminals
(which draw attention to themselves and undermine the flow of words).
Many fonts available for font-linking are lively and subtle, but lose legibility on the screen.
Thus, all recommended good web fonts have been tested (on OSX, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Ubuntu) using a web font specimen page. The testing is done via crossbrowsertesting.com. Particular attention is paid to Windows XP (Safari, IE8, IE7), Windows 7 (IE8) and Windows Vista (IE8); due to font rendering, this is where many fonts lose legibility/quality. I also test on Chrome on Windows and Mac.
Learn more about legibility from Typographic Web Design.
(View in Adobe Acrobat to use rollovers for font comparison.)
Some lovely fonts don’t make the cut.
While I try to pick good web fonts based on legibility and quality, I know personal preferences play a role in choosing fonts. On the flip-side, I know there are absolutely beautiful fonts I’d love to recommend, but they just don’t hold up the way I want them to on screen. Thus, I also provide a list of lovely fonts that didn’t make the cut — while not my first choice, they might work for you.