Until Netscape 3.0, site designers had to accept that their carefully formatted documents would be viewed in any and every typeface, from Times to Tekton. The font was determined by the user's designated browser preferences, and these preferences could not be controlled. However, the most recent version of Netscape has a new tag called <FONT FACE>. You can use this tag to set the font to a common typeface such as Palatino, and this tag will override the user preferences. This is useful not only because of aesthetic partiality, but because of the differing dimensions of typefaces. A table that is carefully designed on one face might not format correctly in another.
Cross-platform font sizes
The Macintosh and Windows operating systems display type differently, even when the same typefaces are involved. In general, type displayed on Windows Web browsers will look 2 to 3 points larger than the equivalent face on the Macintosh. This difference in font rendering can have a major impact on your page layouts. The table below shows the major Microsoft TrueType typefaces in their 12 point sizes, as displayed in both Windows and the Macintosh:
Macintosh users can obtain the Mac TrueType versions of the major Windows TypeType fonts listed above by downloading and installing Microsoft's Internet Explorer 3.0.
Specifying particular typefaces
The recent addition of the "FACE" attribute of the "FONT" HTML tag allows you to specify what typeface the browser should use to render type on your Web pages. You can specify the name of any type font in the "FACE" attribute, but in practice you should stick to the most widely used typefaces for the Macintosh and Windows operating systems. If the typeface you specify is not available, the browser will switch to the default font (most often the default font will be "Times New Roman" or "Times").
<FONT FACE="Verdana">Specifying typefaces</FONT>
To increase the chances that you will get a typeface you are happy with, you can specify multiple fonts in the "FACE" attribute. The browser will check for the presence of each font (in the order given), so you can specify three or four alternate possibilities before the browser defaults to the standard Times Roman font.
<FONT FACE="Verdana, Geneva, Helvetica">Typefaces</FONT>
The table below shows the fonts that come with Windows95 and the Macintosh operating system. If you are going to use the FACE attribute to specify type you should probably stick to the typefaces listed here, and always specify at least one typeface from each operating system (example: "Verdana, Geneva) to avoid having the browser render your pages in the default font:
Note that although "Bookman" and "Bookman Old Style" are basically the same typeface, the exact name you specify in the FACE attribute matters. If you want both Macintosh and Windows95 users to see the typeface Bookman, then use both names in your FACE attribute tags:
<FONT FACE="Bookman, Bookman Old Style">Names matter</FONT>
Watch out for tables
If you are using both tables and font tags in your document you should be warned that the combination can be a bit unpredictable. The <TABLE> tag is apparently not allowed inside of a <FONT> tag, which means you will have to include the font settings in each of your <TD> tags. When you are developing your site, set your default proportional font to something obviously different from your intended font. That way you will see clearly whether or not your font settings are being applied to your document.