Hope's Current Reviews

CSS Fonts by Eric A. Meyer; O'Reilly Media. 2013.


This book expands and updates, more than doubling the 30 pages of information in Meyer’s 3rd edition of CSS: The Definitive Guide. There is much better support for font manipulation. Capabilities have become more complex and there is no one better to explain what is currently available and what we can expect in the near future.

CSS Fonts covers the range of capabilities a web designer has on displaying fonts on the web. In the author’s words, “From custom fonts downloaded over the web to custom-built families assembled out of a variety of individual faces, authors may be said to overflow with font power.” The capabilities of CSS3 give us more typographic options than ever.


Eric Meyer has been and continues to be the guru of CSS. I have been a fan of Eric Meyer since first happening upon his Eric Meyer on CSS and More Eric Meyer on CSS more than five years ago, and I have used his Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide, 3rd edition, as a reference guide. This standalone updates and expands the fonts chapter from that guide, and I look forward to the release of the full 4th edition. While this text is very readable, I know that my main use for this text will be as a reference source. I can never retain this kind of detail on a single reading, but it is great to be able to call upon it as needed to refer to tables, examples, and refer back to the text.

In addition to clear description of functionality of fonts, he provides common sense caveats which are timeless, i.e. “Always provide a basic font family as part of any font-family rule; always provide a fallback, and never design dependence on the presence of a given font.” New and welcome to this version is extensive coverage of @font-face, which enables use of custom fonts in web design.

I see this volume (as I imagine the other ones in this series) to be a very useful tool for anyone styling web content. Meyer helps us stay current with the evolution of CSS, and gives a snapshot of what is coming in the near future as well. His summary advice is worth repeating: just because you can do something does not mean you should. “Authors are advised to use their power wisely, not wildly.”

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Last updated, 25 September 2013
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