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I am currently using a font from the google font directory on my website. I don't fully understand how it works, but it seems like when someone opens my site, their browser is told to go and fetch the font from Google. (correct me if I'm wrong).

Now, what I'm wondering is, what are the pros and cons of this over just specifying a font family the old-school way? Presumably doing it the google font directory way has the advantage that they'll definitely see the font I want them to. (as long as the font directory is up).

But does this way have disadvantages? Maybe using fonts that are stored locally speeds up the site loading?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Using local fonts will definitely be faster then loading fonts from Google fonts or from any remote website. However, you are limited to whatever fonts the user has on their system and the fonts available on each system (Windows, Mac, Linux) will vary.

If you absolutely must use a certain font on your pages then the Google Font API is the way to go. However, if you don't absolutely need it, use CSS to list multiple fonts and allow the system to fall back to whatever font it has. So if the user doesn't have that fancy font they the system can fall back to a similar one.

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Are there any resources available for finding similar fonts? Let's say I want to use font X, how can I find what fonts are close to it and in what order to offer them? –  Seamus Jan 29 '11 at 15:28
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You'll need to do some Googling to see if anyone has posted something like this for whatever font you want to use. An example would be this SitePoint article about font stacks. –  John Conde Jan 29 '11 at 15:37
    
@Seamus: another resource for at least Widows and Apple world is this one: ampsoft.net/webdesign-l/WindowsMacFonts.html Unfortunately it has not been updated for a while, but it's still good. –  Marco Demaio Jan 30 '11 at 16:25
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