google web fonts

Top 20 Google Web Fonts and How to Use Them

As a web designer, you’re probably well aware of the importance of typeface. With the growing amount of businesses engaging in content marketing, font selection is becoming all the more crucial.

There’s nothing worse than coming across a website with awesome content and horrible typeface. One of your main goals as a designer is ensuring a positive experience for the end-user.

After the release of Google Web Fonts, it’s become a lot easier to incorporate beautiful typography into your websites. The only difficulty is sorting through the 600+ styles that are offered.

For this reason, we’ve put together our top 20 Google web fonts that are sure to bring out the best of your design.

But first, let’s walk you through the installation process.

How to Use Google Web Fonts

Google Web Fonts is a free, open-source and hosted service. The fonts are compatible with a wide variety of devices, browsers and operating systems. You don’t need to create an account and you’re not restricted to using them in any way. It’s definitely one of the best solutions for adding nice typeface to your site.

Step 1

Head over to Google Fonts and pick out a font. Don’t worry, we’ll provide you with a bunch of suggestions down below. Once you have one picked out, click the quick use button shown below.

Step 2

You’ll then be brought to a screen where you can choose the style you want (ie. light, bold, extra-bold, etc…) as well as the character sets. After that, you will be given a piece of code that you will add into the <head> of your website. For this example, I chose Open Sans.

Step 3

Google API will generate the necessary CSS code to add to your stylesheet. Simply add the generated code to your CSS file.

Now that you know how to install them, let’s go ahead with the recommendations.

Recommended Google Web Fonts

Open Sans

Open sans is a sans serif typeface designed by Steve Matteson and it’s the most popular Google Web font available.

Open Sans is an upright stressed font with open forms and a neutral but friendly appearance. It was optimized for print, web and mobile interface and has gained extreme popularity over the excellent legibility of the typeface.

Recommended pairings: Roboto, Oswlad & Lato.

Droid Sans

Similar to its open sans counterpart, this font was also designed with an upright stress, open forms and a neutral but friendly appearance.

Droid was heavily optimized for user interfaces and to be comfortable for reading on a mobile handset in menus, web browser and other screen text.

Recommended pairings: Droid Serif, Lobster, Open Sans.

PT Sans

PT Sans is based on Russian sans serif types of the second part of the 20th century, but at the same time has distinctive features of contemporary humanistic designs.

Recommended pairings: PT Serif, Lato, Ubuntu

Lato

Lato is another sans serif typeface designed by Warsaw-based designer Łukasz Dziedzic. Lato gets its name from the Polish word meaning “summer.”

The font is based off classical proportions which are particularly visible in the uppercase in order to give the letterforms a familiar sense of harmony and elegance. The semi-rounded details of the letters give off a feeling of warmth, while the strong structure provides a sense of stability and seriousness.

Recommended pairings: Open Sans, Source Sans Pro, Roboto.

Oswald

Oswald is a reworking of the classic style historically represented by the ‘Alternate Gothic’ sans serif typefaces. The characters of Oswald have been re-drawn and reformed to better fit the pixel grid of standard digital screens.

Oswald is designed to be used freely across the internet by web browsers on desktop computers, laptops and mobile devices.

Recommended pairings: Open Sans, Droid Sans, Roboto

Droid Serif

The Droid Serif font family features a contemporary appearance and was designed for comfortable reading on screen. The font features slightly condensed letterforms to maximize the amount of text displayed on small screens. Vertical stress, sturdy serifs and open forms contribute to the readability of Droid Serif while its proportion and overall design complement its companion Droid Sans.

Recommended pairings: Droid Sans, Open Sans, Raleway.

Roboto

Roboto is the font we’re using for our blog which features friendly and open curves. The goal of the this font was not to allow distorted letterforms to force a rigid rhythm. In contrast, Roboto doesn’t compromise by allowing letter to be settled into their natural width. This makes for a more natural reading rhythm more commonly found in humanist and serif types.

Recommended pairings: Open Sans, Lato, Droid Sans.

Lora

Lora is a well-balanced contemporary serif with roots in calligraphy. It is a text typeface with moderate contrast well suited for body text.

Lora is optimized for screen appearance but works equally well in print.

Recommended pairings: Open Sans, Lato, Ubuntu.

Libre Baskerville

Libre Baskerville is a web font optimized for body text (typically 16px.) It is based on the American Type Founder’s Baskerville from 1941, but it has a taller x-height, wider counters and a little less contrast, that allow it to work well for reading on-screen.

Josefin Slab

Josefin Slab is a Scandinavian style font with typewriter style attributes. It was developed by Santiago Orozco who wanted to stick to the idea of Scandinavian style, so he put a lot of attention to the diacritics.

Recommended pairings: Open Sans, Pacifico, Oswald

Arvo

Arvo is a geometric slab-serif typeface family suited for screen and print. The flavour of the font is rather mixed. Its monolinearish, but has tiny bit of contrast (which increases the legibility a little in Mac OS X.).

Recommended pairings: Droid Sans, PT Sans, Ubuntu.

Ubuntu

The new Ubuntu Font Family was started to enable the personality of Ubuntu to be seen and felt in every menu, button and dialog. The typeface is sans-serif, uses OpenType features and is manually hinted for clarity on desktop and mobile computing screens.

Recommended pairings: Open Sans, Droid Sans, Roboto.

Raleway

Raleway is an elegant sans-serif typeface family. It was initially designed as a single thin weight and later expanded into a 9 weight family.

Recommended pairings: Droid Sans, Lobster, Droid Serif.

Source Sans Pro

Source Sans Pro, Adobe’s first open source typeface family, was designed by Paul D. Hunt as a sans serif typeface intended to work well in user interfaces.

One of the important  design considerations was to create a typeface that reads well over extended periods of time.

Recommended pairings: Lato, Open Sans, Roboto.

Lobster

The font draws many versions of each letter and a lot of different letter-pairs (aka “ligatures”) so it always uses the best possible variation of each letter depending of the context of the letter inside each word. All this happens automatically in any browser that supports ligatures.

We recommend Lobster for headings and titles but not so much for large paragraphs of text.

Recommended pairings: Droid sans, Raleway, Open Sans.

PT Serif

PT Serif is a transitional serif typeface with humanistic terminals. It is designed for use together with PT Sans, and is harmonized across metrics, proportions, weights and design.

Recommended pairings: PT Sans, Open Sans, Droid Sans.

Old Standard TT

Old Standard TT uses a classical style of serif typefaces commonly used in various editions of the late 19th and early 20th century

It’s considered a good choice for typesetting scientific papers, especially on social and humanitarian sciences, as its specific features are closely associated in people’s eyes with old books they learned on.

Recommended pairings: Droid Sans, Lobster, Vollkorn

Volkorn

It intends to be a quiet, modest and well working text face for bread and butter use. Unlike its examples in the book faces from the renaissance until today, it has dark and meaty serifs and a bouncing and healthy look. It might be used as body type as well as for headlines or titles.

Recommended parings: Droid Sans, Lobster, Open Sans.

Gravitas One

Gravitas One is modeled on the “UK fat face” which is a kind of very heavy advertising type created during the industrial revolution in England.

The letter forms are characterized by an attention getting and strong contrast between the very heavy vertical shapes and the thin horizontal ones. The contrast of the design means that it will be most useful when set from medium to large sizes.

Recommended pairings: Paytone one, Open Sans, Lato

Merriweather

Merriweather features a very large x height, slightly condensed letterforms, a mild diagonal stress, sturdy serifs and open forms.

Recommended pairings: Open sans, Oswald, Merriweather

Conclusion

You’re now equipped with the necessary tools to incorporate some awesome fonts into your next web design.

This is by no means an exhaustive list and we definitely encourage you to browse Google Web Fonts and build your own list of favorites.

If you think we’ve left out an awesome Google font, make sure to leave us a comment below.

Christopher Gimmer

Christopher is an entrepreneur & the co-founder of BootstrapBay. He helps web designers, developers and entrepreneurs utilize the power of Bootstrap. Connect with him on Twitter.