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Keep Your Fonts Simple

by Candice Pardue

Whether you just started designing your website or have had your site up and running for months or even years, you may want to check your fonts.

For beginners, let me take just a moment to explain what fonts are. Fonts are the style of lettering you use to write the text on your web page. When you add text to your web page, you'll choose which "font" style you want for your letters. Most programs have hundreds or even thousands of fonts to choose from. Some that you are probably familiar with are "Times New Roman", "Arial", or "Impact".

Here are a couple of reasons why you'll want to steer clear of using fancy fonts on your website:

Problem Number One:

Though the fonts may look great on your computer screen, they may look totally distorted on your visitor's screen. Because everyone has different fonts installed on their computer, your list of fonts may not be the same as others. Therefore, if you select a font that another person doesn't have, the words won't look the same on their computer as it does yours.

Safe fonts that most programs have, and that are okay to use are Times Roman and Arial. Netscape Composer has a default font called "Variable Width" which is the same as Times New Roman. I leave my font at this default setting any time I'm writing content text for my web pages. I also use the Comic Sans font for my "headlines only" on my web pages and haven't had any complaints so far. But I wouldn't recommend using Comic Sans for your entire website text... just to be safe.

If you want to use a certain style of font like Comic Sans, Futura, etc. and you want it to look the same on every person's computer that views your web page, you will need to type your words in the font style you want and save it as a graphic file. This is the only way to make the font look the same for everyone.

Xara offers a program called Xara Webstyle that allows you to create your own graphics, banners, bullets, buttons, and backgrounds using graphic templates no matter what your skill level. You can go here to see some examples at Xara... www.xara.com/products/

Otherwise, your web page may look messy and will be totally unformatted if you use fonts other people may not have.

Problem Number Two:

Some fonts are very difficult to read. The best "reading" fonts are in print, clear, and concise. When writing long copy, consider the fact that your reader may wear glasses and have difficulty reading, and that reading fancy writing actually places strain on the eyes.

Remember, you're writing to a potential customer, and you want to make reading your website as pleasant as possible. Plain fonts may not be "pretty", but your visitor will read it. He/she is there to find information.

I'll give you a quick illustration... I visited a site once that was written completely in cursive. The site had long text paragraphs and all was written in fancy cursive writing. It was very difficult to read and tough on my eyes. Reading that kind of writing can give you a headache very quickly!

So please try to avoid these two "fancy fonts" problems, and keep your site's writing simple and plain. It will show your reader that you designed it for him/her, and help increase your potential for success tremendously!

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