Font family

Listing Category

In HTML and XHTML, a font face or font family is the typeface that will be applied by a web browser to some text. The font is relevant for the display of text on the screen, on a printer or another device.

A font family and other presentation attributes of a font may be applied in HTML code in either cascading style sheets (CSS) or the deprecatedHTML font element.

In CSS, a font-family (or face in HTML) consists of a set of related fonts, grouped as font families. For example, the Times family includes different font sizes, styles (like roman and italic), and weight (like regular and bold).

The web browser will only be able to apply a font if it is available on the system on which it operates, which is not always the case. HTML code writers may list in preferential order font families to use when rendering text. The font list is separated by commas (as shown above). To avoid unexpected results, the last font family on the font list should be one of the five generic families which are by default always available in HTML and CSS. In the absence of a font being found, the web browser will use its default font, which may be a user-defined one. Depending on the web browser, a user can in fact override the font defined by the code writer. This may be for personal taste reasons, but may also be because of some physical limitation of the user, such as the need for a larger font size or the avoidance of certain colors.

Generic fonts

The font-family can use a specific named font (like Heisei Mincho W9), but the result depends on the fonts installed on the user machine. The actual appearance will depend on the browser and the fonts installed on the system. A default installation of Firefox on Microsoft Windows, for instance, always displays serif and Times as Times New Roman, and sans-serif and Helvetica as Arial.

Usually only a small subset of them, chiefly ‘Cursive’, ‘Serif’, ‘Sans-serif’ and ‘Monospace’, are easily configurable by user in web browsers.

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