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Web-safe fonts for Email

If you are wondering why your emails look a bit off on other peoples computers or perhaps you’re wondering why your email designer is restricting your use of fonts in the email, this feature is probably for you.

What’s in the feature

  • Discover about Web-safe Fonts
  • Understand email better
  • Appreciate why website and email are different
  • Gauge what fonts are good for email
  • Benefit from what’s available.

The Modern website (and email)

Modern websites have a modern approach to handling fonts and type-faces.

The modern website is capable of referring to external libaries of fonts, whereas the modern email system is designed to work on the font library contained on the recipients computer. For this reason email works very differently to a website.

You could say website are open systems whereas email is a closed system.The modern website can refer to external libraries that allow your web-browser (Safari, Chrome or Explorer, etc) to display very rich graphical text that looks really good. Email is different. It’s designed to work without interuption or reference to external sources. Email-browsers are designed to display plain-text and rich text. Email browsers will also display secondary part of an email which is the html version. Yes, that’s right. All email messages are sent in plain text and the glossy html part is added on the end.

The email-browsers themselves are designed to process the display of the email on the end-user computer. They only access the font library on the computer where the email arrives…. so we design them to work with web-safe fonts, i.e. basic fonts that exist on multiple platforms.

The basic rules of email design with fonts:

  • Gloss text – logos, adverts, specific fonts are made in images
  • Other items – Names, addresses phone numbers are in kept as text.

Part of the email design process is to determine whether items should be plain
text or set as images. To assist with understanding plain-text basics, the following font types are available:

Sans-serif Fonts

These are usually the modern smart looking fonts that do not have the little flicks (or tails on). Sans-serif, French for without the serif.

Arial, Helvetica Heading
Arial Black Heading
Comic Sans MS Heading
Impact, Charcoal Heading
Lucida Sans Unicode Heading
Trebuchet MS Heading
Verdana Heading

Serif Fonts

These are the traditional, currently thought of as older style book type fonts and are called Serif Fonts because they have flicks and tails, they contain the serif..

Georgia Heading
Palatino Linotype Heading
Times New Roman Heading

Monospace Fonts

These are fonts that set each letter on the same background space giving a thin letter the same character width as a wider letter.

Courier New Heading
Lucida Console Heading

To conclude

You now know what fonts are available for plain text.  For very rich text including logos and a flowing scripted the above font types are not suitable.  For this reason your email designer will recommend using graphics and images for this purpose.

These are the basics.  Go with what the email designer is saying and if necessary challenge them to understand a bit more.


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