variable fonts

Better rendering for variable fonts

I was messing around with a variable font the other day and noticed this weird rendering issue in the latest version of Chrome where certain parts of letterforms were clipping into each other in a really weird way. Thankfully, though, Stephen Nixon has come to the rescue with a temporary hack to fix the issue which using a text-shadow on the text that’s using the variable font:

.variable-font {
  text-shadow: 0 0 0 #000; /* text color goes last here */

Once you do that, you shouldn’t be able to see those weird clip marks in the letterforms anymore. Yeah, it feels pretty hacky but I’m sure this rendering bug will be fixed relatively soon. It doesn’t look like it affects other browsers, as far as I can tell.

Microsoft Edge Variable Fonts Demo

The Edge team put together a thorough demo of variable fonts, showcasing them in all of their shape-shifting and adaptive glory. Equally interesting as the demo itself is a history of web typography and where variable fonts fit in the grand scheme of things.

This demo pairs well with, which is an interactive collection of variable fonts that allows you to play around with the variable features each font provides.

A simple resource for finding and trying variable fonts

This is a website designed to showcase fonts that support OpenType Variations and let you drag a whole bunch of sliders around to manipulate a typeface’s width, height, and any other settings that the type designer might’ve added to the design.

I think the striking thing about this project is that I had no idea just how many variable fonts were out there in the wild until now.

Three Techniques for Performant Custom Font Usage

There’s a lot of good news in the world of web fonts!

  1. The forthcoming version of Microsoft Edge will finally implement unicode-range, the last modern browser to do so.
  2. Preload and font-display are landing in Safari and Firefox.
  3. Variable fonts are shipping everywhere.

Using custom fonts in a performant way is becoming far easier. Let’s take a peek at some things we can do when using custom fonts to make sure we’re being as performant as we can be.


Variable Fonts with Jason Pamental

We've already hit you with a one-two punch of variable fonts today. Robin shared Richard Rutter's post on real-world usage of them. Ollie Williams introduced us to the in's-and-out's of using them on the web.

I figured we'd make it a trifecta and link up our discussion about variable fonts with Jason Pamental. Dave and I talk with Jason for an entire hour digging into the real story, possibilities, and future of all this variable fonts business. Don't miss his or Mandy Michael's demo Collections either.

How to use variable fonts in the real world

Yesterday Richard Rutter posted a great piece that explores how the team at Clearleft built the new Ampersand conference website using variable fonts (that’s the technology that allows us to bundle multiple widths and weights into a single font file). Here’s the really exciting part though:

Two months ago browser support for variable fonts was only 7%, but as of this morning, support was at over 60%. This means font variations is a usable technology right now.

And the nifty thing is that there’s a relatively large number of variable fonts to experiment with, not only in browsers but also in desktop design apps, too:

Variable font capable software is already more pervasive than you might think. For example, the latest versions of Photoshop and Illustrator support them, and if you’re using macOS 10.13+ or iOS 11+ the system font San Francisco uses font variations extensively. That said, the availability of variable fonts for use is extremely limited. At the time of writing there are not really any commercial variable webfonts available, but there is a growing number of free and experimental variable webfonts, as showcased in the Axis Praxis playground.

Adobe also made a bunch of variable fonts available a while back, if you’re looking for more typefaces.