Typography

Typography in email is arguably more important than other design elements since type is the one thing that is consistently rendered across different email clients. Most email clients block images from first-time senders by default, so your subscribers will almost always see the print content of your email before anything else.

Cross-platform Fonts

Unfortunately, you can’t just go and use an excellent font like Gotham for your copy. Like anything else with HTML email, there are some limitations. Here, you’re pretty much stuck with the basic, cross-platform fonts:

Sans Serif Web Safe Fonts

These are your best bets for sans serif fonts. If you include these in your font stacks, most people will see the page correctly.

  • Arial

  • Arial Black

  • Tahoma

  • Trebuchet MS

  • Verdana

These choices will give you good coverage, but you should include a more common one as a backup in your font stack.

  • Century Gothic

  • Geneva

  • Lucida

  • Lucida Sans

  • Lucida Grande

Serif Web Safe Fonts

These are your best bets for serif fonts.

  • Courier

  • Courier New

  • Georgia

  • Times

  • Times New Roman

These choices will give you good coverage, but you should include a more common one as a backup in your font stack.

  • MS Serif

  • New York

  • Palatino

  • Palatino Linotype

Monospace Fonts

There are not as many monospace fonts with wide, cross-platform support. These are your best bets.

  • Courier

  • Courier New

These fonts have some coverage.

  • Lucida Console

  • Monaco

It’s best to stick with a small list of fonts known to work across all platforms, and your ideal, bullet-proof font stacks should look something like this.

  • sans-serif: Helvetica, Arial, Verdana, Trebuchet MS

  • serif: Georgia, Times New Roman, Courier

Here’s a list of all widely-supported cross-platform fonts: Helvetica, Arial, Arial Black, Comic Sans, Courier New, Georgia, Impact, Charcoal, Lucida Console, Lucida Sans Unicode, Lucida Grande, Palatino Linotype, Book Antiqua, Palatino, Tahoma, Geneva, Times, Times New Roman, Trebuchet MS, Verdana, Monaco.

Experimenting with Web Fonts

While web fonts may be common in traditional website design, in the world of HTML email, they’re experimental at best. If you want to work on the ragged edge of email technology, however, you do have a few options. A (really) small number of email clients support the @import* CSS at-rule, which allows the use of web fonts provided through services like Google Web Fonts or Fontdeck.

  • Outlook2000 (crazy, we know)

  • iOS Mail

  • Apple Mail

  • Android (default client, not Gmail)

  • Thunderbird

Note: @font-face and <link> really only work on Apple desktop and mobile clients.