Introducing the Google Font API & Google Font Directory

MAY 19, 2010
Today we are excited to announce a collection of high quality open source web fonts in the Google Font Directory, and the Google Font API to make them available to everybody on the web. For a long time, the web has lagged print and even other electronic media in typographic sophistication. To enjoy the visual richness of diverse fonts, webmasters have resorted to workarounds such as baking text into images. Thanks to browser support for web fonts, this is rapidly changing. Web fonts, enabled by the CSS3 @font-face standard, are hosted in the cloud and sent to browsers as needed.

Google has been working with a number of talented font designers to produce a varied collection of high quality open source fonts for the Google Font Directory. With the Google Font API, using these fonts on your web page is almost as easy as using the standard set of so-called “web-safe” fonts that come installed on most computers.

The Google Font API provides a simple, cross-browser method for using any font in the Google Font Directory on your web page. The fonts have all the advantages of normal text: in addition to being richer visually, text styled in web fonts is still searchable, scales crisply when zoomed, and is accessible to users using screen readers.

Getting started using the Google Font API is easy. Just add a couple lines of HTML:
      href='' rel='stylesheet'

body { font-family: 'Tangerine', serif; }
The Google Font API hides a lot of complexity behind the scenes. Google’s serving infrastructure takes care of converting the font into a format compatible with any modern browser (including Internet Explorer 6 and up), sends just the styles and weights you select, and the font files and CSS are tuned and optimized for web serving. For example, cache headers are set to maximize the likelihood that the fonts will be served from the browser’s cache with no need for a network roundtrip, even when the same font is linked from different websites.

These fonts also work well with CSS3 and HTML5 styling, including drop shadows, rotation, etc. In addition, selecting these fonts in your CSS works just the same as for locally installed fonts, facilitating clean separation of content and presentation.

The fonts in the Google Font Directory come from a diverse array of designers, including open source developers and highly regarded type designers, and also include the highly acclaimed Droid Sans and Droid Serif fonts, designed by Ascender Corporation as a custom font for Android. We invite you to browse through the directory and get to know the fonts and designers better. Since all the fonts are open source, you can use them any way you like. We also have a separate project hosted on Google Code for downloading the original font files. Since they’re open source, they can be used for just about any purpose, including for print.

We’re hoping designers will contribute many more fonts in coming months to the Google Font Directory. If you’re a designer and are interested in contributing your font, get in touch with us by completing this form.

To showcase the Google Font API, Smashing Magazine has relaunched their site using the open source Droid font hosted by Google. We’re excited about the potential for integrating the Google Font API into many types of publications and web applications. For example, the new themes for Google Spreadsheet forms are a great example of a rich visual experience using web fonts.

This is just the beginning for web fonts. Today, we’re only supporting Western European languages (Latin-1), and we expect to support a number of diverse languages shortly.

By Raph Levien & David Kuettel, Google Font API team