www.cosmos-monitor.com - Colophon

Starting with version 9 of my sites, I am using Google Fonts, formerly Google Web Fonts, as the source for my default fonts. All modern browsers support remotedly loaded fonts, which make it possible to provide far more consistent font appearance across browsers and platforms.

Note: if you're using the NoScript extension on Firefox, you may have to allow "scripts" (even though remote fonts aren't scripts) from www.cosmos-monitor.com in order to show the fonts as intended. Otherwise, you'll see the backup fonts from your system.

I should note that some browser/OS combinations still look a little better than others. For example, Google Fonts on Windows platforms appear sharper and more angular than they should. Macintosh computers do the best job of font rendering, in my opinion, closely followed by Linux. However, rendering on Linux can vary a slight amount, depending upon the browser used. Unsurprisingly, Google Chrome seems to give the best results.

For both performance and aesthetic reasons, it was best to settle on one basic font family for serif fonts, used for narrative text, and one for sans-serif fonts, used for headers and as a contrasting font for specialty blocks of text. I used Merriwether as the default serif font family and Open Sans for the sans-serif font family for my sites. In addition, for situations in which I wanted to represent the look of early 20th century newspaper text, I used another font, Arbutus Slab.

In 2020, I decided to change the sans-serif font used for specialty blocks of text to the sans-serif version of Merriweather, Merriweather Sans. The medium and bold weights are used.

Google Fonts has brief write-ups of each of these families:

» Merriweather
» Merriweather Sans
» Open Sans
» Arbutus Slab


I chose Merriweather as the base serif font for several reasons. It has a slight vertical stress and a relatively large x-height, which promote readability. It uses text figures, which look more natural in large blocks of text. The font is available in both upright and italic versions in various weights. It was revised in 2013 to improve rendering. I think its use gives the page a fresh, modern look while preserving the traditional advantages of text in serif fonts. The sans serif version, which I began to use in 2020, also has many of these features. On my sites, Merriweather Sans is used for specialty blocks of text, such as disclaimers and captions.

The designer, Eben Sorkin, provides updates and more information about Merriweather at his blog.

Open Sans

Open Sans matches well with Merriweather because of a similar vertical stress and humanist proportions. It was designed by Steve Matteson, the type director of Ascender Corporation. It bears a strong resemblance to the Droid Sans font found on some mobile phones, which was also designed by Matteson. Open Sans comes in more weights, however, and includes a true italic (Droid Sans doesn't). On my sites, Open Sans is used for headings.

Arbutus Slab

On a few pages, I wished to mimic the look of newspaper fonts of the 1920s. I chose Arbutus Slab, designed by Karolina Lach, which was inspired by 18th and 19th American jobbing type, also one of the sources of newspaper "readability" fonts that were common from the beginning of the century until the 1990s. They were very workmanlike fonts, not particularly distinctive, and designed for high-speed printing, such as newspaper production. There are some quirky features to Arbutus Slab; still, of all the Google Fonts available, Arbutus Slab came quite close to the aspect that I wanted to present to the reader whenever quoting text from the 1920s. Arbutus Slab comes in only one weight and has no italic. I have used an oblique (slanted) form of the font in one instance. The font can be seen on these pages:

» Missouri Highways History: Boonville Bridge Dedication, 1924
» Missouri Highways History: Missouri River Bridges

Backup (local) fonts

In the event that Google fonts aren't available, or if a browser not supporting remotely-loaded fonts is used, I have specified backup fonts that are available on the user's own computer. These fonts may vary from platform to platform. Georgia (serif) and Trebuchet (sans-serif) are used as defaults, and should work reasonably well on Windows and Macintosh computers. If those fail, earlier fonts such as Times/Times New Roman (serif) and Helvetica/Arial (sans-serif) are specified. The 1920s newspaper articles are given no additional treatment other than indentation and a smaller font size.

Linux systems may be at a disadvantage when local fonts are used. Default fonts on Linux, due to licensing issues and a certain amount of open-source rigidity, are different and lack finesse.

Questions, suggestions, or comments are always welcome at the e-mail address listed on the site's Contact Information page.

Mark Roberts
Oakland, California
E-mail: Please see the Contact Information page.
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