Roundup of Font Embedding and Replacement Techniques

This post was last updated February 2010

Although @font-face, the CSS method for embedding and using any font in a web page, now enjoys rather good browser support, it still has some limitations that keep people from using it. Chief among these is the fact that the license of most fonts, even free ones, do not allow re-distribution over the web using @font-face. Because of this, a number of services and technologies are springing up that provide alternate ways to get non-standard fonts into your pages. I was unable to find any place that listed all of the major @font-face alternatives, so I decided to do my own roundup to provide the basic info on each.

This roundup of alternatives is not meant to discourage the use of @font-face. In the spirit of progressive enhancement, I wholeheartedly think it’s ready to use (with the right fonts, of course). But, in case you are unable or unwilling to use a pure @font-face solution, or you’re just curious what your other options are, here’s are the most popular services and techniques out there for you right now.

Note: This a rapidly evolving area of web design. These solutions are going to change and more are going to be added. I will try to keep this page updated as things change, but if any of the changes are so big that it makes the most sense to just create a new page, I’ll do that instead. Either way, I’ll post a note here indicating where the latest updates are.

Font Embedding Services

These services all make use of @font-face, but make implementation easier by helping you work around the browser differences. They also all get around the legal issue of font embedding by providing you with a set of fonts that are licensed for this type of use and impossible or difficult for end users to steal.



Open to all.


Subscription to a font library from multiple foundries by month or year. JavaScript used to connect your site with remote font library. You customize CSS to work with the selectors and tags you need, as well as create a font stack to be used as a fallback if @font-face is not supported, but the CSS is in the JavaScript, not your own sheet. sIFR and Cufón will also be used as fallbacks.


Freemium. Free “Trial” account gives access to smallest number of fonts and can be used on one web site. “Personal” account for $24.99/year, “Portfolio” account for $49.99/year, and “Corporate” account for $49.99/month increase limits on fonts, bandwidth, and number of sites.

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