In the old days, developers assumed that all fonts were on the end users machines and called them in a hit or miss fashion. This left many pages with the incorrect font no matter the care in which one was selected. Today some of these issues have been mitigated with better style sheet technology. However, even with CSS2 all things are not immediately available to end users when they first open your website.
With the advent of CSS2 handling (second generation Cascading Style Sheets) standard in today's browsers, the font matching algorithms come standard. However, this still poses some limits to the abilities of the designer to use "ANY FONT HE/SHE CHOOSES".
Today there are 4 methods for font selection via CSS and Style sheets within websites.
font name matching
In this case, the user agent uses an existing, accessible font that has the same family name as the requested font. (Note that the appearance and the metrics might not necessarily match, if the font that the document author used and the font on the client system are from different foundries). The matching information is restricted to the CSS font properties, including the family name. This is the only method used by CSS1.
intelligent font matching
In this case, the user agent uses an existing, accessible font that is the closest match in appearance to the requested font. (Note that the metrics might not match exactly). The matching information includes information about the kind of font (text or symbol), nature of serifs, weight, cap height, x height, ascent, descent, slant, etc.
In this case, the user agent creates a font that is not only a close match in appearance, but also matches the metrics of the requested font. The synthesizing information includes the matching information and typically requires more accurate values for the parameters than are used for some matching schemes. In particular, synthesis requires accurate width metrics and character to glyph substitution and position information if all the layout characteristics of the specified font are to be preserved. This requires the most "drawing" of the page by the end users cpu.
Finally, the user agent may retrieve a font over the Web. This is similar to the process of fetching images, sounds, or applets over the Web for display in the current document, and likewise can cause some delay before the page can be displayed. However, once the font is installed on the end user's machine, the site will display properly.
With this in mind it is wise to note how many individuals have any one font. Almost all the Fonts standard in Windows 98 are still available in windows XP. Therefore, I suggest folks use these 2 lists to compare their favorite fonts to prior to trying to put them on their website:
136 Standard Fonts Installed with Windows? XP
(Without any Installed Service packs)
56 Standard Fonts Installed with Windows? 98
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