How to Change Fonts in HTML: Your Ultimate Guide to Web Typography

By Cristian G. Guasch •  Updated: 09/18/23 •  8 min read

Curious about how to change fonts in HTML? You’re not alone. It’s a common question I get from beginners just starting their journey into the world of web development. Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it may seem at first glance.

Changing font style or size in HTML can dramatically alter the look and feel of your website. It can make your content more readable, impact user experience, and even play a role in branding. But how exactly do we go about this?

In HTML, we primarily use the CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) properties ‘font-family’, ‘font-size’, and ‘font-weight’ to tweak our text aesthetics. By understanding these properties and knowing how to implement them correctly, you’ll be able to control your website’s typography with ease. Let’s dive deeper into this topic!

Understanding the Basics of HTML Fonts

Let’s dive right in. When it comes to web design, the font you choose can make or break your site. It’s not just about aesthetics; fonts can affect how easy your content is to read and comprehend. That’s where knowing how to change fonts in HTML comes into play.

In its simplest form, changing a font in HTML involves using the font-family CSS property within your style tags. Here’s a quick example:

<p style="font-family: Arial;">This is some text.</p>

In this snippet, we’re telling the browser we want our paragraph text displayed in Arial. If Arial isn’t available on a visitor’s computer, it’ll default back to their browser’s standard font.

But there are so many different types of fonts out there! How do you know which one to use? Well, that depends on what you’re trying to accomplish with your website.

If readability is your main concern (as it should be), stick with sans-serif fonts like Arial or Helvetica. They’re clean and easy on the eyes – perfect for long pieces of text.

On the other hand, if you need something more decorative for headers or logos, try a script or display font. Just remember not to overdo it – too many different types of fonts can make your site look messy and unprofessional!

Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s talk about adding multiple font families as fallbacks (just in case one doesn’t load). You’d do this by listing them sequentially after font-family, separated by commas:

<p style="font-family: 'Times New Roman', Times, serif;">This is some text.</p>

Here we’ve set ‘Times New Roman’ as our preferred font but if that isn’t available then Times will be used instead and finally if neither is available then any serif typeface will be used.

As you can see, the font-family property is quite versatile and allows for a lot of customization. With a little practice, you’ll be able to pick the perfect fonts for your site in no time! Diving into the world of fonts in HTML, it’s important to realize that there are several types you can use. The most common ones include serif, sans-serif, monospace, cursive, and fantasy. Let me take you down the path of understanding each one.

Your first stop is Serif fonts. They’re characterized by small lines or strokes attached to larger strokes in a letter or symbol. Think Times New Roman or Georgia – old school classics that bring a touch of elegance and readability to your text.

Making a sharp transition from Serifs, we have Sans-Serif fonts. As you might’ve guessed from the name (“sans” means without), these don’t have those extra strokes on their letters. Arial and Verdana are prime examples here – simple and modern options which work well for screen reading.

Our third category is Monospace fonts. Every character in these typefaces takes up the exact same space – hence “mono”. Courier is an example that often springs to mind when thinking about this group. It’s ideal for coding environments due to its clear differentiation between similar characters like ‘1’ (one) and ‘l’ (lowercase L).

Next up are Cursive fonts. This style mimics human handwriting with stylized joined letters – think Comic Sans or Zapfino for Apple users out there! While they add some flare to designs, be cautious using them as they may not always provide optimal readability.

Rounding off our list are Fantasy fonts such as Impact or Western-inspired Papyrus which can add a unique element to your pages but should be used sparingly due to their distinctiveness.

To illustrate how you’d implement these in HTML:

<p style="font-family: 'Times New Roman', serif;">This is a Serif font</p>
<p style="font-family: Arial, sans-serif;">And this one's Sans-Serif</p>
<p style="font-family: Courier, monospace;">Monospace coming right up</p>
<p style="font-family: 'Comic Sans MS', cursive;">Here's a Cursive example</p>
<p style="font-family: Impact, fantasy;">Finally, a Fantasy font</p>

Remember, it’s crucial to list at least one fallback font in case the user’s browser doesn’t support your first choice. That way you’ll ensure your text remains readable no matter what!

Step-by-Step Guide on Changing Fonts in HTML

To the uninitiated, changing fonts in HTML might seem like a daunting task. But I’m here to tell you it’s simpler than you think! There are three main ways to change fonts in HTML: inline styles, internal style sheets, and external style sheets.

Let’s start with inline styles. It’s an easy way where you add your font directly into the tag. Here’s how:

<p style="font-family: Arial;">This is a paragraph.</p>

In the example above, we’ve changed the font of our paragraph text to Arial using an inline style command inside our <p> tag.

Next up is using internal style sheets. This involves adding your styles within a <style> element in the head section of your HTML document.

    p {
      font-family: Courier;

  <p>This is another paragraph.</p>

In this snippet, all paragraphs within that specific page will use the Courier font due to our styling tucked away neatly between <style> tags in our <head> element.

Lastly, there’s external stylesheets – my personal favorite! In this method, you create a separate .css file and link it to your HTML document:

<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="styles.css">

And within styles.css, we would define our desired font:

body {
  font-family: Verdana;

All text within body tags on any linked pages will now utilize Verdana as their default typeface!

There you have it – from inline styles to external CSS files – these are some common methods used when changing fonts in HTML. Each has its own merits depending on circumstance and preference; therefore don’t be afraid to experiment and find which works best for you!

Common Mistakes When Changing HTML Fonts and How to Avoid Them

Let’s dive right into a topic that has caused many developers some head-scratching moments – common mistakes when changing HTML fonts. I’ll guide you through these pitfalls and show you how to sidestep them.

Sometimes, we can overlook the simplest things, like not specifying a fallback font. HTML allows us to do this using CSS. See the example below:

p {
  font-family: "Times New Roman", Times, serif;

In this snippet, if “Times New Roman” isn’t available on the user’s computer, their browser will try the next font in line – “Times”. If that’s also unavailable, it’ll move to any available serif font.

Another hiccup often encountered is forgetting about case sensitivity. Always remember that CSS is case-insensitive but your file names might not be! So if you’re linking an external font file named ‘Roboto-Regular.ttf’, ensure your CSS refers to it exactly as ‘Roboto-Regular.ttf’ not ‘roboto-regular.ttf’.

Now let me tell you about another common mistake – ignoring browser compatibility issues. Not all browsers support every type of font format. For instance, Internet Explorer doesn’t support WOFF2 (Web Open Font Format 2). To overcome this issue, specify multiple formats for each @font-face rule.

@font-face {
  font-family: 'MyWebFont';
  src: url('webfont.eot'); /* IE9 Compat Modes */
  src: url('webfont.eot?#iefix') format('embedded-opentype'), /* IE6-IE8 */
       url('webfont.woff2') format('woff2'), /* Super Modern Browsers */
       url('webfont.woff') format('woff'), /* Pretty Modern Browsers */
       url('webfont.ttf')  format('truetype'), /* Safari, Android, iOS */

Lastly, it’s easy to forget that font readability can be affected by the color scheme and background of your page. A light-colored font on a light background or a dark-colored font on a dark background will make your text hard to read. Always ensure there’s enough contrast between your font color and its background.

By paying attention to these details when changing HTML fonts, you’ll avoid common mistakes and create web pages that are visually appealing and user-friendly!

Cristian G. Guasch

Hey! I'm Cristian Gonzalez, I created HTML Easy to help you learn HTML easily and fast.

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