Do Google's fonts function just like any other font? I've only gotten a few but they look a little poor in quality when used in print applications. Has anyone used them for a print design and did it come out accurately? I know they are optimized for the web - is there a way to identify which ones will look alright on print?

  • +1 but when you say "they look a little poor in quality": poor in what way? Are there identifiable problems like the shape or kerning, or is it something like with, say, Verdana, where it simply looks aesthetically clumsy and inelegant when printed because it's designed for screen? Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 17:35
  • It just looks like even with anti-aliasing turned on to not be as sharp as a font should be.
    – Ryan
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 17:55
  • What I'd like to know is whether the GWF license allows for the use of those fonts for mediums other than online media.
    – aalaap
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 5:10

3 Answers 3


They are fine for print, as far as freeware fonts go. They aren't designed or programmed for demanding typographic features but they'll get the job done. In fact there are some very well designed examples, within the limited typographic support provided.

I have noticed (mostly comping for web) that they have some strange display quirks in desktop apps. In my limited experience printing with them, it's display issues only.

  • What do you mean by "demanding typographic features"? Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 3:45
  • 2
    @Mechanicalsnail I'm thinking of the multiple character variants required to typeset a publishing job well: Stylistic alts, multiple figure types, true small caps, contextual alts, extended and historical ligature support, ... more? I haven't taken the time to confirm it but, I suspect the kerning pairs are not as extensive or well-developed either since much of that work would be wasted on screen. Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 6:15

You have to test, some web fonts have different kerning and tracking settings that their print counterparts. While most of the times the differences are not that big, you could get a huge print fail if a font is web-optimised.

  • This is very true. Webfonts give horrible results on print projects besides using them for titles (and kerning each of them individually indeed), and they're hard to manage: Can't always download and archive them for the future, don't work on a lot of font management system, aren't recognized by a lot of publishing software, etc.
    – go-junta
    Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 3:15

From what i know, Web fonts basically are the same fonts you use on desktop (like TTF,OTF) with some optimization that basically does not screwes up the vector paths, like a reduced glyph set etc..

You can learn more if you try to build your own on http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fontface/generator, and check the optimization options.

Anyway i printed a lot from sites out of the chrome browser and they look fine, at least on an a4 paper size.

  • 1
    The outlines are delivered via the same formats as print fonts (primarily OpenType these days). The differentiator remains the attention to typographic support. Since browsers are still very lean on any typographic features beyond multilingual support, there's no reason to put that extra effort into your webfonts. Especially ones you're giving away for free ;) Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 20:24

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