Is Helvetica considered a "web safe" font?

  • Should I consider the font Helvetica to be a web-safe font, i.e. is it a reliable source to set in my CSS that will be accessible on any device?

    How is this a UX question? Shouldn't it be on GraphicDesign.StackExchange or something similar?

  • Devin

    Devin Correct answer

    5 years ago

    Not only is Helvetica not safe, but it is also a copyrighted font, so you need a license to use it if you load it as webfont.

    As a matter of fact, there are no 100% safe web fonts, since it will depend on the fonts the user have on his/her device, and different operative systems have different font sets. Hence, you need to do something like this:

    p{font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif}

    Otherwise, your site will be visualized with the default font the user has set , for example, Times New Roman.

    If you want to play safe, I recommend this quite nifty resource: CSS Font Stack. There you can see "safer" fonts, percentage of usage by OS and even the code to use including fallback alternatives

    Yes, you're correct, editing accordingly :)

    Why not just `font-family: sans-serif`? It works great everywhere: Including email clients.

    @IsmaelMiguel, because that is a fallback, but you may want to actually have the font you actually intended to have whenever possible, specially if you use webfonts

    I understand that it is a fallback, but, sometimes, the `font: sans-serif` looks (subjectivelly) better than Arial or Helvetica.

    sorry, but UX is not about randomness, but about control. You may like it better *sometimes*, but it is purely subjective as you say, and certainly not something to recommend

    @Devin very true, I like to use Roboto on my sites, settling for the random sans-serif will give a completely different experience than what I intended.

    @Devin I agree. While mentioning the font in Css, it should be changed as p{font-family:Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif}. Primary font should come first if stakeholders prefer this font and next we need to add system fonts like Arial n sansarif

    Why all the comments about copyrights and loading webfonts? The question asks about web-safe fonts that (by definition) are already present on the device of the end-user. The question expresses no wish to load webfonts.

    @GrafixGuru Indeed. Arial is, after all, just a cheap copy of Helvetica. Ask for Helvetica, fall back to Arial and not the other way around.

    You can also use something like Google Fonts to ensure that a specific font is used, but you may find the selection somewhat limited since it's a free service. You could also serve WOFF files yourself, I suppose, but check with your lawyer first.

    CSS Font Stack is nice but it only shows fonts installed on desktop Windows and OS X.

    Some good read about Helvetica in Windows. Link

    C'mon, there are free (and legal) clones of Helvetica, see e.g. TeX Gyre Heros. So if you want to use Helvetica as your font, you can. You just have to provide it of course ("embed it")

    Your first sentence is completely irrelevant to the question.

    CSS Font Stack doesn't list Comic Sans, it's totally useless to me now!!! *kidding*

    @Jeff I know the question asked if it a web safe font. So I was hesitant to post my own answer addressing web fonts. However there was no indication the asker was aware of web fonts and since the knowledge could only help them I figured it wouldn't hurt to make a mention.

    Don't quite get the CSS Font Stack site. It claims that Impact has a 0 % "compatability" on Windows. But I have never seen a Windows machine without Impact, nor have I ever seen this spelling of "compatibility".

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

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