Top twenty text fonts for web projects

Text fonts must conform to a wide range of different prerequisites if they are to be clearly legible. They are thus subject to stringent requirements that start with the shapes of the glyphs. As texts are usually set in smaller point sizes, the individual letters of a text font need to be still plainly recognisable even in these smaller dimensions. Well-designed, easily differentiated forms are one essential condition. But open counters and large x-height also contribute towards improved legibility. Many of the details that first make fonts interesting in headline sizes cannot be appreciated in the point sizes used to set text and these can even be problematical and impair legibility. But good text fonts retain their individual character, without loss of detail or line breakage, even in little. In addition to design, so-called hinting plays a significant role here. By means of hinting, a type designer can provide additional information on line thickness and curve form and so influence how letters are displayed. On low resolution display media, such as computer monitors, this information helps ensure that small lettering appears uniform and coherent.

Kerning, the technique used to adjust the spacing between the individual characters, is also an important factor when it comes to text legibility. Only if there is optically consistent spacing between letters will readers be able to readily combine the characters to form words.

And, last but not least, it is advisable to ascertain the range of glyphs available with a particular font. A font should, for example, have matching sets of numerals – such as oldstyle figures and uppercase numerals that are smaller than the uppercase letters so that numerals do not hinder the flow of continuous text.

If messy illegible web pages are not to represent the outcome of the new typographic flexibility provided by the internet, it is essential that the text fonts used are carefully selected. We have put together a collection of 20 good quality individual fonts with which you will be unable to put a foot wrong. And we even have suitably matching headline fonts that we can recommend in each case.

Text fonts Usage Matching Headline font
Avenir Next Despite its artificial and up-to-date personality, Avenir is neutral and likeable. ITC Stone Serif Semi Bold
ITC New Baskerville The classic book font ITC New Baskerville is ideal for setting longer texts and it will give these a certain dignity. Linotype Univers Bold Condensed
Bembo Bembo is another of the classic book fonts. The elegant appearance of this typeface provides an historical touch to texts. Optima nova Bold
PMN Caecilia The robust characters of this Linear Antiqua provide an impression of modernity and authority. Avenir Next Bold
Compatil Letter A typeface that has proved popular in the commercial world as a corporate font. The range of glyphs available has been optimised for setting business reports. Compatil Fact Bold
DIN Next The letters of DIN Next, familiar from texts on road signs, is somewhat stencil-like and has an ‘official’ effect. Janson Text Bold Italic
Electra The robust personality of Electra means that its unusually formed characters are immediately eye-catching. DIN Next Bold
Neue Frutiger A retiring and neutral Grotesque font with attractive forms that will give any text a quite individual character. Frutiger Serif Regular
Monotype Garamond A very elegant, classic book font; texts set in this typeface gain stature and a touch of historical glamour. Frutiger Next Medium
Neue Helvetica A completely neutral and versatile classic that is absolutely in line with contemporary taste, particularly in the case of its more slender weights. Museo 900
Janson Text The robust letters of Janson Text are impressive. Texts set using this font have a high recognisability factor. Gill Sans Bold
Palatino Palatino is one of the most popular text fonts. Although its solid characters are unobtrusive, it still has a very good-humoured feel. Palatino Sans Informal Bold
Sabon Next The elegant and classical texture of Sabon means that it is ideal for use in numerous contexts. Neue Frutiger Bold
Neue Swift The particularly emphasized serifs and the very individual glyph forms provide texts with a quite unique flavour. Praxis Bold
Syntax Next Texts set using the delicate and harmonious letters of Syntax have a non-formal and vivacious character. Syntax Serif Medium
Trade Gothic The contemporary nature of Trade Gothic means that it is very much at home, for example, in technical texts. Akko Bold
Vectora Because of its unusually large lowercase letters, Vectora not only has a unique personality but is also readily legible even in particularly small point sizes. ITC Officina Serif Bold
Vesta The marked contrasts in line thickness make this sans serif into something special. Its neutral character ensures that it can be used in a wide range of contexts. Big Vesta Bold
Vialog This font is a neutral sans serif with quite distinctive letter shapes. Its modern feel makes it the ideal choice for use in contemporary projects. Satero Serif Bold