World Wide Web gets new face

For ages you could see a web page in a limited range of typefaces, Arial, Verdana, Georgia or Times.

Now it seems that all that is about to change tomorrow as one of four typefaces Monotype Imaging, a Massachusetts company that owns one of the largest collections of typefaces in the world, made 2,000 of its fonts available to web designers.

The move follows the San Francisco-based FontShop, which put several hundred of its fonts online in February. In just a few weeks, Font Bureau, a Boston designer of fonts, will make some of its typefaces available online as well.

Tal Leming, a typeface designer told the Seattle Times that it was like the bit in the flick the the ‘Wizard of Oz’ moment when they go from black and white to colour.

For many designers, the change will be subtle. Good graphic design is generally meant to be invisible, they think, improving readers’ experience of the text but not getting in the way of it.

The reason you can see any fonts at all on the web is that they have been licensed by the company that is running a computer’s operating system.

Some of the more important typefaces, such as Caslon will default to Times if you don’t have them installed on your PC.

A few small foundries started rolling out these temporarily downloadable fonts in 2007.

Now it seems that some of the bigger names have followed suit.