Google Fonts API

A quick example

Here’s an example. Copy and paste the following HTML into a file:

<html>   <head>     <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="">     <style>       body {         font-family: 'Tangerine', serif;         font-size: 48px;       }     </style>   </head>   <body>     <div>Making the Web Beautiful!</div>   </body> </html>

Then open the file in a modern web browser. You should see a page displaying the following, in the font called Tangerine:

Making the Web Beautiful!

That sentence is ordinary text, so you can change how it looks by using CSS. Try adding a shadow to the style in the previous example:

body {   font-family: 'Tangerine', serif;   font-size: 48px;   text-shadow: 4px 4px 4px #aaa; }

You should now see a drop shadow under the text:

Making the Web Beautiful!

And that’s only the beginning of what you can do with the Web Fonts API and CSS.


You can start using the Google Web Fonts API in just two steps:

  1. Add a stylesheet link to request the desired web font(s):
    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="">
  2. Style an element with the requested web font, either in a stylesheet:
    CSS selector {   font-family: 'Font Name', serif; }

    or with an inline style on the element itself:

    <div style="font-family: 'Font Name', serif;">Your text</div>

Note: When specifying a web font in a CSS style, always list at least one fallback web-safe font in order to avoid unexpected behaviors. In particular, add a CSS generic font name like serif or sans-serif to the end of the list, so the browser can fall back to its default fonts if need be. For a list of web fonts you can use, see Google Web Fonts.

Specifying font families and styles in a stylesheet URL

To determine what URL to use in your stylesheet link, start with the Google Web Fonts API base URL:

Then, add the family= URL parameter, with one or more font family names and styles. For example, to request the Inconsolata font:

Note: Replace any spaces in the font family name with plus signs (+). To request multiple font families, separate the names with a pipe character (|). For example, to request the fonts Tangerine, Inconsolata, and Droid Sans:|Inconsolata|Droid+Sans

Requesting multiple fonts allows you to use all of those fonts in your page. (But don’t go overboard; most pages don’t need very many fonts, and requesting a lot of fonts may make your pages slow to load.) The Web Fonts API provides the regular version of the requested fonts by default. To request other styles or weights, append a colon (:) to the name of the font, followed by a list of styles or weights separated by commas (,). For example:,bolditalic|Inconsolata:italic|Droid+Sans

To find out which styles and weights are available for a given font, see the font’s listing in Google Web Fonts. For each style you request, you can give either the full name or an abbreviation; for weights, you can alternatively specify a numerical weight:

Style Specifiers
italic italic or i
bold bold or b or a numerical weight such as 700
bold italic bolditalic or bi

For example, to request Cantarell italic and Droid Serif bold, you could use any of the following URLs:|Droid+Serif:bold|Droid+Serif:b|Droid+Serif:700

Specifying script subsets

Some of the fonts in the Google Font Directory support multiple scripts (like Latin and Cyrillic for example). In order to specify which subsets should be downloaded the subset parameter should be appended to the URL. For example, to request the Cyrillic subset of the Philosopher font, the URL would be:

To request both the Latin and Cyrillic subset of the Philosopher font, the URL would be:,cyrillic

For a complete list of available fonts and font subsets please see Google Web Fonts.

Optimizing your font requests (Beta)

Oftentimes, when you want to use a web font on your website or application, you know in advance which letters you’ll need. This often occurs when you’re using a web font in a logo or heading. In these cases, you should consider specifying a text= value in your font request URL. This allows Google to return a font file that’s optimized for your request. In some cases, this can reduce the size of the font file by up to 90%. To use this new beta feature, simply add text= to your Google Web Fonts API requests. For example if you’re only using Inconsolata for the title of your blog, you can put the title itself as the value of text=. Here is what the request would look like:

As with all query strings, you should URL-encode the value:

This feature also works for international fonts, allowing you to specify UTF-8 characters. For example, ¡Hola! is represented as:!

Note: there’s no need to specify the subset= parameter when using text= as it allows you to refer to any character in the original font.