Web font services for email

Recently I contacted a number of web font services and type foundries, to try and get a better idea of our clients options beyond Google Fonts. You might also find it useful:

 

Service or Foundry Email Support Web Service Self Hosted
Google Web Fonts (free) yes   yes yes
Webtype yes   yes yes
Hoefler & Co   no    
Fontdeck   no    
Typekit   no    
MyFonts yes   no yes
Fonts.com   no    
Fontshop   no    
Commercial Type yes   no yes
Fontspring yes   no yes
Monotype Membership yes   yes yes
Typotheque yes   yes yes
Linotype   no    
Typofonderie   no    
Process Type yes   no yes
Production Type yes   no yes
YouWorkForThem yes   no yes
Optimo yes   no yes
Village yes   no yes

 

Licensing

Often the reason cited for not supporting email was licensing restrictions, rather than any technical barrier. Typekit was the only service that mentioned JavaScript. Others like FontShop told me that their web font license doesn’t cover email, as in the eyes of their End User License Agreement (EULA) it’s considered redistributing the font. Lack of support for @font-face also plays a part, email is seen as an edge case so there’s not much incentive to work out a solution. Cost wise, most email licenses are based on the number of monthly opens.

 

Note on Monotype

Monotype own FontShop, Fonts.com and Linotype (as well as Typecast). None of their web font licenses cover email. For that you have to go via Monotype Membership, which launched in Sep. 2014. The typefaces via that service are cleared for use everywhere, including email.

 

Further reading

I found the book Responsive Typography by Jason Pamental really useful. Although web focused, he talks through the pros and cons of using a web font service vs. self-hosting, and outlines browser support for the different font formats such as WOFF and SVG.

Campaign Monitor also have an email specific write up, which is a good introduction to web fonts. Typewolf’s, ‘The Definitive Guide to Free Fonts’, lists the closest free alternative to every font on Typewolf. I’ve used this to find email safe alternatives to Hoefler & Co typefaces (Update as of November 4th, 2015 you can use H&Co fonts in email).

 

2 Responses to “Web font services for email”

  • Ted Goas
    February 3rd, 2015 12:21

    Thanks for the search. With the exception of self-hosted @ font-face and Google web fonts, I thought it was pretty much red across the board.

  • Anna Yeaman
    February 3rd, 2015 12:37

    Yeah I was confused myself, as it’s not always clear from their websites. I knew Webtype and MyFonts were probably good as they use web fonts in their newsletters, but all the Monotype foundries were a gray area. It’s easy to assume that if you can self-host and there’s no JavaScript, then it’s Ok to use in email.

 

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