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My experience with building websites is limited, but i have used Google Fonts (GF) for some basic presentation websites before. I was recently given some branding guidelines built by other providers which used GF for everything, including print items, eg. business cards, brochures, etc. And I did just use this identity to build a white paper for this client using GF, which seems to look ok even when printed on paper.

Is GF a technically good alternative to commercial fonts? Any downsides to using GF for non-web work?

Their about page doesn't mention anything on this specifically and seems to position these fonts as web assets.

Making the web more beautiful, fast, and open through great typography. We believe the best way to bring personality and performance to websites and products is through great design and technology. Our goal is to make that process simple, by offering an intuitive and robust directory of open source designer web fonts.

Also, since their fonts appear to be Open Source, does this mean its 100% ok to use the fonts for non-web commercial work?

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It's completely fine to use them. Google Fonts are all open source, so you can use them for whatever you like.

However, they are mostly screen fonts. In other words, they're mostly designed to look decent on a display. They have big lower-case letters, wide spacing between characters, no fine strokes that wouldn't render on screen and so on. Most are sans-serifs. (And finally, no offence to their creators but many of them are amateur projects, with iffy standards of spacing and design.)

So you can use them for print, but I wouldn't call most of them well adapted for that. Many of them with what's called a high "x-height" will often look clunky and shouty once you print them because of the big lower-case letters. Obviously I don't know what you want to use them for and what aesthetic you want to project, but I think you'd be better off using fonts designed to be printed. Can you tell me what fonts you have in mind and what kind of mood you're trying to set? I might be able to recommend something better.

  • Not planning something specific. This is more of a general question. However I do work on a web design template using Roboto and Vidaloka (GF), and the client is considering using these fonts also for PDF presentations, which will circulate both by email AND in print (corporate work). – Lucian Mar 21 '17 at 12:32
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    Looks good. I'd call those OK for print use. My one issue is that Vidaloka has no bold or italic so you just have to make sure your client knows that in their style guide. It also has a quite limited character set so I doubt it will work for many languages like Polish (it doesn't seem to have glyphs for Romanian either, if that matters?) So if your client is multi-national there might be issues. – Copilot Mar 21 '17 at 12:40

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