Avatar
Nick Schäferhoff
Editor in Chief
. 47 Comments

Best Web Safe Fonts

90%* of website design comes down to:

  • (1) the image assets you use 
  • (2) the fonts you select.
    (*That’s our personal completely hypothetical, biased estimate.)

Font embedding services (like Google Web Fonts or Adobe Fonts) sprung up as an alternative, giving your designs something new, fresh, and unexpected.

They’re also super easy to use.

Take Google for example:

Choose any font like Open Sans or Droid Serif or Lato. Generate the code and paste in your document’s <Head>. And you’re all set to reference it in CSS!

That took 60 seconds. And it was completely free. (Thanks, Google!)

What could go wrong, right?

Not everyone will have access to that same font. Which means you will have a problem. That beautiful font you just chose is going to show up as something random for your visitors.

Not if you create a fallback with a web safe alternative!

Here’s how it works.

P.S. We recently published a free, step-by-step guide on how to create a website using WordPress.

Why Does ‘Web Safe’ Matter?

Each device comes with its own pre-installed font selection. The selection is based largely on its operating system.

The problem is that every system differs a bit.

Windows-based devices might have one group. MacOS ones pull from another. Google’s own Android system uses its own as well.

Now pull up a website. Even this one would work. The font you see may not be the one original one intended.

Meaning: Let’s say the designer picked some obscure, paid font family for this site’s design. If you don’t have that font already installed and it’s not pulling from a web-friendly place, the font you see would default back to some basic variation like Times New Roman.

You, as the visitor, wouldn’t necessarily know that this is what has happened, though. For you, it might just look plain ugly.

The ‘Web safe’ ones, appear across all operating systems. They’re the small collection of fonts that overlap from Windows to Mac to Google (even Unix or Linux ones too).

They give designers (and website owners) the ability to specify which fonts to fall back to if needed. That way, you can control what shows up (no matter what) across all devices. And you can pick something that’s still kinda close to the original font (so that what your users wouldn’t see something random or out of place).

It’s a plan B, the ‘just-in-case’ version. An emergency system to save the world from bad font selections.

Got it? Good! Let’s take a look at the most popular web safe fonts to choose from.

15 Best Web Safe Fonts


There might be a few more.

But these are the best 15 web safe fonts to choose from. Select one of these and you can’t go wrong.

1. Arial

Web Safe Font - Arial

Arial is like the de facto standard for most.

It’s one of the most widely used sans-serif fonts (which means no little curls at the end of each letter). It’s often substituted on Windows devices for other interesting (read: more beautiful) font choices.

2. Roboto

Web Safe Font - Roboto

Roboto is a sans-serif typeface that was developed by Google to be their system font for Android.

3. Times New Roman

Web Safe Font - Times New Roman

Times New Roman is to serif what Arial is to sans serif.

It’s among the most popular on Windows devices and is a new variation on the old Times font.

4. Times

Web Safe Font - Times

The Times font probably looks familiar. It’s the old newspaper print that you’re used to seeing in a small size in narrow columns. It’s about as traditional as it gets.

5. Courier New

Web Safe Font - Courier New

Courier New, similar to Times New Roman before it, is a variation of another old classic. It’s also considered a monospaced font (as opposed to the serif vs. sans serif we just saw).

6. Courier

Web Safe Font - Courier

Courier is the old monospace stand-by available on almost all devices and operating systems.

7. Verdana

Web Safe Font - Verdana

Verdana is a true web font because (1) the simple sans serif lines and (2) it’s super large size. The letters are almost elongated, which makes it easy to read online.

8. Georgia

Web Safe Font - Georgia

Georgia is similar to Verdana in size and stature (with bigger-than-usual letters compared with fonts of the same size). So while it’s great for certain circumstances, make sure to avoid pairing this serif font with others (like Times New Roman) which might look minuscule in comparison.

9. Palatino

Web Safe Font - Palatino

Palatino dates back to the Renaissance. Seriously! It’s another large font that makes it perfect for the web, traditionally used for headings and print-style ads.

10. Garamond

Web Safe Font - Garamond

Garamond is another old-school font that dates back to styles used in 16th century Paris. This new and improved version was introduced and bundled on most Windows devices (and has been adopted by others since).

11. Bookman

Web Safe Font - Bookman

Bookman (or Bookman Old Style) is another perfect headline option that maintains legibility (or readability) even when used in a small size.

12. Comic Sans MS

Web Safe Font - Comic Sans MS

Comic Sans MS is a playful, whimsical alternative to other sans serif options.

It’s also kinda fugly. Don’t use it! 😉

13. Candara

Web Safe Font - Candara

Candara is a sans-serif typeface commissioned by Microsoft. It is part of the ClearType Font Collection which was released with Windows Vista.

14. Arial Black

Web Safe Font - Arial Black

Arial Black is the bigger, bolder, badder version of your basic Arial. Funny enough, it also shares proportions with Helvetica. Why is that important? So that they could originally use it to replace Helvetica and print things without paying for the license.

15. Impact

Web Safe Font - Impact

Impact is another bold headline choice that looks great in a few short words, and absolutely terrible in a sentence or longer.

Conclusion

Web-safe fonts give you a Plan B. A fallback option for when your first option might not work.

They’re widely accessible and have been available on most devices for decades (in some cases).

While not all of them are #winners (Comic Sans MS? Yuck!), there are enough to choose from that should be closely related to your original option.

What happens, when if not? You can’t go wrong with Arial!