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Web design has come a long way since the days of black text in a single font on a white background. Over the years typography on the web has jumped ahead, first to what were called ‘web safe’ fonts, which were a group of 18 fonts that were found on both Mac and Windows machines, and later to ‘Web Fonts’ which were essentially fonts that could be downloaded from servers whenever a page was loaded, allowing the introduction of hundreds, even thousands of new font options for web sites, without requiring the user to have the font installed on their computer.

One of the major breakthroughs in Web Fonts was Google Web Fonts, which provided a large font server populated with what Google described as ‘open source fonts’ which people could use without any restrictions. Over time, other free web font services also came online, such as the recent offering from Adobe, called Adobe Edge Web Fonts.

One thing I noticed when looking at Google Web Fonts in the past, was that there was no reason the fonts couldn’t be used on your desktop and printed as well. Many commercial web fonts restricted their usage, and required additional licenses to use them in print, but Google’s fonts were all free to use. This obviously occurred to other people as well, and Google has actually renamed Google Web Fonts to the simpler Google Fonts, and made them available on the desktop via Monotype’s SkyFonts service. SkyFonts is a program you install on your computer that syncs fonts from fonts.com (a Monotype site) to your desktop. For example, if a font is improved by adding new characters, then SkyFont will download and automatically update the font on your desktop.

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This is an interesting reversal. First, desktop fonts were made available on the web. Now fonts created specifically for the web are making their way onto the desktop.

Will any of these fonts be useful for dictionary-making? Probably not. Still, finding the right font or fonts for making a readable dictionary will be a challenge, and any and all resources available to make that happen is welcome.

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