3 Comments

Firefox: Defining font type and size

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What a professional typesetter knows is the importance of a good font. For centuries typesetters have evolved fonts to provide ease of reading that we know today. Having the text look good in the web browser is a nice bonus; choosing the right type and size can make a big difference to how well we read, especially if used quite a bit.

Font installation

To make a web page feel right — as the designer had in mind — the fonts should be on your system that a page requires. On some Linux systems, only the basic fonts are installed. Installing missing fonts usually adds nice touches that may have not been realized before. To help discover missing fonts, the Context Font add-on will display font type and size of a selected font. Many sites define their fonts as Arial, or sometimes, Verdana, or Georgia; these fonts can be added by installing Microsoft’s core fonts; a few define theirs with Apple fonts, and a few less with others. These font packages contain the most popular fonts (for Arch Linux):

arpa -i otf-bitter otf-exo ttf-bitstream-vera ttf-dejavu ttf-inconsolata ttf-lato ttf-liberation ttf-mac-fonts ttf-opensans ttf-win7-fonts

Font size

To get a good idea on good font size to use, look at a book. The size there that feels comfortable will likely feel comfortable on the monitor too. When choosing font size also think about making the various typefaces the same size (i.e. serif, sans-serif, and monospace).

Font type

Being able to define one’s own font can help readability quite a bit; however,keep in mind, tastes differ. In Firefox, the settings that can be defined are generic typefaces of: serif, sans-serif, and monospace (additionaly, the minimum font size can be set). It should be known though, that many sites still force a specific font type and size; however, gradually, a greater number of sites are using generic typeface definitions. In the future this means that personalizing fonts will be of greater availability. When choosing a font type, keep in mind to pick one that helps improve readability rather than one that grabs ones attention.

Font tests

Here is a basic test of what Firefox’s base-defined font types and sizes look like (click to view):

Font test: Type and size (based defined). (click to view)

Font test: Type and size (based defined).

Here are what a few of the common font groups look like (click to view):

Font test: Common webfonts group 1. (click to view)

Font test: Common webfonts group 1.

Font test: Common webfonts group 2. (click to view)

Font test: Common webfonts group 2.

What did I choose?

After adding all the new fonts and testing them, I found out I like a varied group; they read beautifully and scale good. Ultimately I came up with these:

Typeface Font Size
Serif Bitter 13
Sans-serif Open Sans 13
Monospace DejaVu Sans Mono 12
Minimum 10

DejaVu Sans Mono and Open Sans are good fonts and, for me, hard to beat. Rather than just define them in Firefox, I prefer to define my serif, sans-serif, and monospace fonts system-wide. This allows me to have a consistent overall look to me desktop. Here is my Fontconfig configuration (note: fonts are listed preferential/available first): fonts.conf.

For GNOME the fonts sizes are:

Setting Font
Window Titles Cantarell Bold 11
Interface Cantarell 11
Documents Cantarell 11
Monospace Monospace 10

What they look like:

Font type and size.

Font type and size.

Common webfont groups 1

Common webfont groups 1

Desktop

Desktop

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About Todd Partridge (Gently)

Good times, good people, good fun.

3 comments on “Firefox: Defining font type and size

  1. yaourt -S ttf-ms-fonts ttf-vista-fonts ttf-mac-fonts ttf-liberation ttf-google-fonts-distilled ttf-freefont
    Password:
    error: target not found: ttf-google-fonts-distilled

    where did you get those distilled fonts?

  2. Do you use any patched fontconfig or freetype2 like infinality patches?

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