A study into the fonts used by the top 1,000 websites

Data scientist Michael Li studied the top 1,000 websites and the fonts they used to spot any trends in layouts, design choices, and colours and “to better quantitatively understand the world of web design”. I recommend you check to the whole study but I’ll pull out a few things I found:

  • The most popular number of fonts used in the font-family stack was 2 (so, something like { font-family: Arial, sans-serif; })
  • 14px and 16px are the most common font sizes for paragraph text
  • For headings, “designers choose to use a larger size more often than a heavier weight (94% vs. 82%), but they often use both (76%)”

Nothing too surprising if you know about web design. Sans-serif fonts are most common and paragraph text is most often used at the standard size of 16px (or 1em/rem) and most sites don’t go for a large font stack. For this site, I use a system font stack with a lot of fallbacks for all devices, should my custom font not work for you.

Font related: Helsingin Sanomat’s ‘Climate Crisis’ font that shrinks with the Arctic sea ice, 10 alternatives to Helvetica, and the history of Times New Roman.

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