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General FAQ

  1. Can I download the fonts on Google Fonts to my own computer?
  2. Do I need to download the font in order to use the font on my website or blog?
  3. What browsers are supported?
  4. Does the Google Fonts API work on mobile devices?
  5. What do unsupported browsers see?
  6. How is text displayed while the browser is still loading the font file?
  7. Can I use CSS3 features like text shadows in combination with web fonts?
  8. What about performance? Will web fonts slow down my page?
  9. Which fonts can I use with the Fonts API?
  10. Can I use the Fonts API on any page?
  11. Should I request all of the fonts on Google Fonts on each of my pages, just in case?
  12. What generic fallback fonts are available?
  13. How can I ensure that behavior is consistent across browsers?
  14. I have made an original typeface and would like to add it to Google Fonts. How can this be done?
  15. What does using the Google Fonts API mean for the privacy of my users?


Can I download the fonts on Google Fonts to my own computer?

Yes. To download the fonts, simply add fonts to your collection and click the "Download your Collection" link. You can download the fonts to use them for your mockups, in your documents or to host them on your own server.

Do I need to download the font in order to use the font on my website or blog?

No. The font is available for download in case you need the font in a local program like Adobe Photoshop. To use the font on your website or blog, you can simply copy the HTML snippet available from the "Use" tab for your collection.

What browsers are supported?

The Google Fonts API is compatible with the following browsers:

  • Google Chrome: version 4.249.4+
  • Mozilla Firefox: version: 3.5+
  • Apple Safari: version 3.1+
  • Opera: version 10.5+
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer: version 6+

Does the Google Fonts API work on mobile devices?

The Google Fonts API works reliably on the vast majority of modern mobile operating systems, including Android 2.2+ and iOS 4.2+ (iPhone, iPad, iPod). Support for earlier iOS versions is limited.

What do unsupported browsers see?

If someone using an unsupported browser visits a page that uses the Fonts API, then the text is displayed using the next available font in your CSS font stack.

In the following example, the text would be displayed in the unsupported browser's default cursive font:

p { font-family: 'Tangerine', cursive; }

How is text displayed while the browser is still loading the font file?

Browser behavior varies depending on the type of browser. Some will only display the text after the font file is loaded, others will use the fallback font from the font stack and then refresh the page when the font is available. The latter behavior is generally referred to as the "flash of unstyled text." For browser details, see the Technical Considerations page.

For greater control over how browsers behave while the font is still loading, use the Web Font Loader.

Can I use CSS3 features like text shadows in combination with web fonts?

Absolutely. CSS3 offers a range of features that can be applied to text on the web. Because text displayed using web fonts is still just text, it works well with CSS features like text-shadow and rotation.

(But use good design judgment; be wary of applying too many fancy special effects to a given piece of text.)

What about performance? Will web fonts slow down my page?

If a page uses web fonts, then the font files have to be downloaded to the site visitor's computer before they can be displayed initially. The font files are served compressed for a faster download. After that initial download, they will be cached in the browser. As the Google Fonts API becomes widely used, your visitors will be likely to already have the font you're using in their browser cache when they visit your page.

In general, however, you should keep an eye on the size of the font files you are serving. Also be aware that using web fonts may result in the browser making more HTTP requests than would otherwise be necessary.

Compared to using images to display a lot of text on a page, web fonts are likely to enhance the performance (and maintainability, and accessibility) of your page. In other situations, however, they might add to the overall weight of your page.

Which fonts can I use with the Fonts API?

To browse the fonts available through the Fonts API, visit Google Fonts. Google Fonts provides a preview of each font and more information about the designer who created it.

You can also load other web fonts using the Web Font Loader.

Can I use the Fonts API on any page?

Yes. All the fonts on Google Fonts are licensed under open source licenses that let you use them on any website, from a private blog to a big commercial site.

Should I request all of the fonts on Google Fonts on each of my pages, just in case?

No. Each font takes some time to download (if it's not already in the visitor's cache); only request the fonts that you're using on a given page.

Also keep good design principles in mind; most pages don't need very many fonts.

What generic fallback fonts are available?

CSS defines a set of generic font families; you can list a generic family at the end of a font stack, for browsers to fall back to. Each browser has a default font that it uses for each of these generic fonts.

serif
A font with serifs.
sans-serif
A font without serifs.
cursive
A font that has joined strokes that make it look at least somewhat like handwriting.
fantasy
A decorative font (but focused on characters rather than on icons or pictures).
monospace
A font in which every character is the same width.

How can I ensure that behavior is consistent across browsers?

As described on the Technical Considerations page, browsers may vary in their behavior while web fonts are downloading.

If you want to provide consistent behavior across all browsers, use the Web Font Loader. For example, you can choose to make all browsers behave like Firefox.

I have made an original typeface and would like to add it to Google Fonts. How can this be done?

Please fill in the Google Fonts Proposal Form. If we think your font would be a good fit we'll be in touch with more details.

What does using the Google Fonts API mean for the privacy of my users?

The Google Fonts API is designed to limit the collection, storage, and use of end-user data to what is needed to serve fonts efficiently.

Use of Google Fonts is unauthenticated. No cookies are sent by website visitors to the Fonts API. Requests to the Google Fonts API are made to resource-specific domains, such as fonts.googleapis.com, googleusercontent.com, or gstatic.com, so that your requests for fonts are separate from and do not contain any credentials you send to google.com while using other Google services that are authenticated, such as Gmail.

In order to serve fonts as quickly and efficiently as possible with the fewest requests, we cache all requests made to our servers so that your browser only contacts us when it needs to.

Requests for CSS assets are cached for 1 day. This allows us to update a stylesheet to point to a new version of a font file when it’s updated. This ensures that all visitors to websites using fonts hosted by the Google Fonts API will see the latest fonts within 24 hours of their release.

The font files themselves are cached for one year, which is long enough that the entire web gets substantially faster: When millions of websites all link to the same fonts, they are cached after visiting the first website and appear instantly on all other subsequently visited sites. We do sometimes update font files to reduce their file size, increase coverage of languages, and improve the quality of their design. The result is that website visitors send very few requests to Google: we only see 1 CSS request per font family, per day, per browser.

We do log records of the CSS and the font file requests, and access to this data is on a need-to-know basis and kept secure. We keep aggregated usage numbers to track how popular font families are, and we publish these aggregates in the Google Fonts Analytics site. From the Google web crawl, we detect which websites are using Google Fonts, and publish this in the Google Fonts BigQuery database. To learn more about the information Google collects and how it is used and secured, see Google's Privacy Policy.

For further technical discussion of how Google Fonts serves billions of fonts a day to make the web faster, see this earlier tech talk from the Google Developers YouTube channel.