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Web Fonts: How to Make Them Work Perfectly in Email

Typography is a crucial element in supporting brand identity and creating visually distinct emails. However, accessibility should not be compromised for design aesthetics. To achieve both appealing and accessible email designs, it’s important to use live text with appropriate fonts rather than relying on trapped messages within images. This article delves into the use of web safe fonts and web fonts to achieve this balance.

Web Safe Fonts vs. Web Fonts:

Web safe fonts are pre-installed on most computers, making them a reliable choice. They can be used by prompting the web browser to retrieve the font from the local font directory. However, they have limited options and may not stand out.

Web fonts, on the other hand, are hosted on a server and provide a wider variety of font choices. They can be pulled from external servers like Google or Adobe. Web fonts offer creative freedom but come with limited support in certain email clients.

Implementing Web Fonts:

  1. Email Client Support and Licensing: Not all email clients support web fonts equally. It’s essential to analyze where your subscribers primarily open emails. Web font licenses can be complex, and it’s important to understand the terms and conditions of using web fonts.
  2. Finding Web Fonts: Google Fonts and Adobe Fonts are popular sources for web fonts. Other web font services are available on a paid basis. Choose fonts that are easily readable and accessible.
  3. Embedding Web Fonts: Web fonts need to be embedded in emails using methods such as the <link> tag, @import, or the @font-face The @font-face method allows more control over font formats and compatibility.
  4. Fallback Fonts: It’s crucial to define fallback fonts in case the web font doesn’t load or is unsupported by an email client. Fallback fonts should be chosen carefully to maintain readability and consistency.
  5. Avoid Faux Styles: Use genuine font styles (like bold and italic) provided by the font designer, rather than allowing email clients to apply faux styles to regular fonts.
  6. Outlook Compatibility: Outlook can be tricky with web fonts. Using the @font-face method is recommended. For <link> or @import, Microsoft Office (MSO) conditionals can help avoid font compatibility issues.
  7. Gmail Compatibility: Web fonts do not work in Gmail, except for Google’s default font, Roboto. Fallback fonts are essential for consistent rendering in Gmail.


Using web fonts in email design can enhance brand identity and aesthetics while maintaining accessibility. Balancing creative typography with proper font selection and fallbacks is essential to ensure a positive user experience across various email clients. Always test emails thoroughly to ensure font compatibility and readability.

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