2009 font survey – safe web fonts

Date: 23 Feb, 2009
Posted by: admin
In: design, fonts & graphics|internet, web design & development

Bookmark and Share

Codestyle.org publish an annual fonts survey of web users computers to establish which fonts are available for use. The results make interesting reading, a must read for anyone working in web design. Font choice not only affects the style of your website, how it stands out from the crowd but also the readability. Familiar fonts aren’t always bad, they are often highly readable and may make visitors to a website feel more comfortable as if your site is a consistent part of a wider community of web sites – or on the flipside it just looks dull and boring. A fine line to walk.

Take part in the survey (via a Java Applet): Windows, Mac, Unix

Top fonts by cross-platform availability

Here are the top fonts by availability:

Platform and font name Installed (%)
Windows Microsoft Sans Serif 99.61% 99.61%
Windows Arial Black 97.82% 97.82%
Windows Franklin Gothic Medium 97.58% 97.58%
Windows Palatino Linotype 97.54% 97.54%
Windows Verdana 97.54% 97.54%
Windows Arial 97.13% 97.13%
Windows Courier New 96.96% 96.96%
Mac Monaco 96.91% 96.91%
Windows Comic Sans MS 96.83% 96.83%
Windows Tahoma 96.79% 96.79%
Windows Lucida Console 96.76% 96.76%
Mac Arial 96.62% 96.62%
Windows Impact 96.49% 96.49%
Mac Courier 96.48% 96.48%
Mac Helvetica 96.48% 96.48%
Windows Trebuchet MS 95.97% 95.97%
Mac Arial Black 95.78% 95.78%
Windows Sylfaen 95.00% 95.00%
Mac Verdana 94.37% 94.37%
Windows Lucida Sans Unicode 94.34% 94.34%

Most of these fonts are probably familiar to you and, if you’ve ever written a web page, have probably appeared in your font stack.


The ones you’re most likely not to have seen IMO are … (see after the fold for examples and download links for both payfor and free fonts).

Franklin Gothic Medium, Palatino Linotype, Monaco and Sylfaen.

Franklin Gothic family @ linotype.com

Franklin Gothic family @ linotype.com

download Franklin Gothic Medium now

Palatino Linotype @ linotype.com

Palatino Linotype @ linotype.com

download Palatino Linotype now



Monaco is an Apple Computers system font and is only available in Apple formats, not PC TTF, etc.. To get it you must purchase an Apple operating system (eg OSX).



Sylfaen is a MS Windows system font

Microsoft Core Fonts, since 1996

Possibly the greatest thing Microsoft did for the web was to release a package (download site) of core fonts (Wikipedia link) available to anyone to download (yes even Linux users!). I’ve italicised the core fonts above. Nearly everyone has these or a form of them.

MS Core Fonts: Andale Mono, Arial, Comic Sans MS, Courier New, Georgia, Impact, Times New Roman, Trebuchet MS, Verdana, Websdings.

(this table from Wikipedia under terms of the GNU FDL)

MS Cleartype Fonts

MS Cleartype Fonts

MS ClearType fonts

MS has recently introduced a new range of fonts for Vista and some have asked whether these might too become a new range of standard web fonts.

If you want to get hold of the MS Vista Cleartype fonts, eg for Microsoft Windows XP, then you might try this Google link (not sure how legal that is, make your own checks). You can get the fonts by buying either Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium upgrade or a Microsoft Office Standard 2007 Upgrade – both of which will have these fonts integrated and you get the latest version for your Microsoft software too.

Linux fonts?

So, what about linux fonts? Amazingly they were included in the survey (woohoo – market penetration!) under Unix like operating systems (presumably Linux, Unix, BSD, etc.) for which the most popular fonts are those in the DejaVu (FOSS download) family, Bitstream’s Vera family (FOSS download) along with a selection from the URW foundry.

The top 10 linux fonts found were: DejaVu Sans Mono, Bitstream Charter, URW Chancery L, Nimbus Mono L , Century Schoolbook L, URW Gothic L, Nimbus Sans L, URW Bookman L, URW Palladio L, DejaVu Sans.

Linux is a vast and varied array of distributions (distrowatch list over 300). Fedora for example comes with a set called the “Liberation” fonts that are sized to be equivalent to the MS Core Fonts but are not an exact copy (as this would infringe the copyright on the MS fonts). The MS Core Fonts were found on over 50% of *nix computers in the Code Style survey.

Find fonts online

Looking for a particular font, these are the repos that I use to find fonts:

One Responses to "2009 font survey – safe web fonts"

[…] PS. Очень показательная и полезная таблица распространенности шрифтов в различных операционках на 2009 год. Здесь начало. […]


Flapjacktastic is just a random collection of musings, hints&tips, notes, information ... a collection of stuff really that's overflowed from the brain of this husband, father, potter, business-man, geek ...

past posts