File Under: CSS, HTML, Web Standards

Use @font-face Today With Free, Legal Fonts

With the latest versions of Safari, Firefox, Opera and Google Chrome all supporting CSS’s new @font-face rule, you might think web designers everywhere would be rushing to add fancy fonts to their websites. But of course, most aren’t. So why, if designers have been bemoaning the state of typography in the browser since the dawn of the web, hasn’t the recent growth of @font-face support turned things around?

There’s actually another, much more complicated problem with @font-face that stops it from being the panacea for your font woes: licensing.

Unfortunately, the font foundries which create, sell and license fonts have thus far been reluctant to embrace licensing terms that would allow designers to serve fonts via @font-face legally. The foundries fear pirates would be able to steal fonts much more easily if the files were published in the wild on the web.

There are some possible solutions to this, such as third-party middlemen like Typekit. However, involving yet another layer of complexity (and potential failure) to your web stack isn’t anyone’s idea of fun. So what’s a designer to do?

It turns out there are actually some fonts that you use with @font-face today. Font Squirrel, one of our favorite places to find free fonts has an entire section devoted to @font-face compatible fonts.

Two things to keep in mind with Font Squirrel’s list: First, as the site says, “Font Squirrel makes no guarantee that our interpretation of each license is correct,” which means make sure you read it yourself and possibly contact the creator to clarify. And second, some of these fonts are downright ugly.

But not all of them. Designer Francesco Mugnai recently posted a nice roundup of some of the best @font-face candidates from the Font Squirrel collection, including two of our favorites, Museo Sans and Anivers.

Of course, even with legal fonts and decent browser support, @font-face isn’t for every project. However, if you’re sick of Flash solutions like sIFR tired of being limited to only the six fonts found on nearly every PC, Font Squirrel’s list of @font-face compatible free fonts could be the solution you’ve been searching for.

Photo: healthserviceglasses/Flickr

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