Advice on classical but not stuffy fonts choices for web-only design?

Primary tabs

1 post / 0 new
Chris McCormick's picture
Joined: 10 Jan 2011 - 8:49am
Advice on classical but not stuffy fonts choices for web-only design?

Hey there,
New user here. I have a long-running web site which I built myself as a hobby, but which gets tens of thousands of visitors each month. I want to do a thorough redesign on the cheap (i.e., I'll be doing it), with elegance, simplicity, and usability as the key goals. It's an arts and humanities site with some scholarly leanings, so I'm going for a classic look without being stuffy. If there is some personality and history to the design rather than just being "boilerplate classicism," all the better.

In the past I've used sans serif (Verdana mostly) for body type, but as I learn more, I really would like to go with a (humanist?) serif face that has some history to it. I love the Centaur Monotype example on p. 67 of _Font. The Sourcebook_, so that might give an idea of my leanings.

I'd like input as to where I can best learn more. I have been trolling through these forums most of the day, but I haven't hit the great threads yet, I guess. I'd like any advice on good threads here, good web resources (specific articles are the best), books, people to contact, anything, to help me answer some of the questions below. If someone feels super charitable and wants to dispense some wisdom in this thread, all the better!

Thanks for your advice.

The Questions
1. What are some good fonts that have a classic-but-not-stuffy style to them, and are readable in blocks of body text on screens at 10-12 points?

2. Are any of them free or inexpensive (less than $50, say?).

3. Any example web sites that you think do a good job of a clean, readable, classic style with a bit of personality? For example, I like McSweeney's and A List Apart, though my site has a bit more color than those.

4. If my favorite so far is Centaur Monotype, what are the best versions of that for screen viewing (most people seem to think it's not good at small sizes)? How else should I branch out (yes, I have been reading everything I can by raph. It looks like his versions will be incomplete for a while yet?)?

5. If I use something like Centaur for body type, what might I look at for headlines? For even smaller sizes like footnotes? Any thoughts on the number of fonts in my arsenal for a consistent and coherent web site? I have seen several columns advocating no more than three or four fonts and scales...

6. Any good resources targeted at CSS and font stacks by really good designers? I've been reading a lot of stuff by techies who have just a hint of font knowledge, but there must be better stuff out there. I'm generally inclined to forgo universality in favor of style, especially with upcoming improvements in HTML5 and CSS3.

Thanks again,