Channel Verdana Logo

Welcome to Channel
Verdana, the online source for information about the Verdana Typeface.

This page is designed to be viewed using Microsoft Internet Explorer, with Verdana installed. You can download the Verdana family for Windows or Macintosh based computers. To learn more about Microsoft's strategy to bring fonts to the Web see our Typography on the Web section.


Microsoft's new Verdana typeface family consists of four TrueType fonts created specifically to address the challenges of on-screen display. Designed by world renowned type designer Matthew Carter, and hand-hinted by leading hinting expert, Monotype's Tom Rickner, these sans serif fonts are unique examples of type design for the computer screen.

The Design of Verdana

In its proportions and stroke weight, the Verdana family resembles sans serifs such as Frutiger, and Johnston's typeface for the London Underground. But to label Verdana a humanist face is to ignore the successful fusion of form and function Carter has achieved. This isn't merely a revival of classical elegance and savoir faire; this is type designed for the medium of screen.

The Verdana fonts are stripped of features redundant when applied to the screen. They exhibit new characteristics, derived from the pixel rather than the pen, the brush or the chisel. The balance between straight, curve and diagonal has been meticulously tuned to ensure that the pixel patterns at small sizes are pleasing, clear and legible. Commonly confused characters, such as the lowercase i j l, the upercase I J L and the number 1, have been carefully drawn for maximum individuality - an important characteristic of fonts designed for on-screen use. And the various weights have been designed to create sufficient contrast from one another ensuring, for example, that the bold font is heavy enough even at sizes as small as 8 ppem.

Another reason for the legibility of these fonts on the screen is their generous width and spacing. At low resolutions, because of the limited number of pixels, letters cannot differ very much. But often the smallest differences can often change the whole look of a page, or a screenful of type; a fact demonstrated in the illustration below.

Verdana comparison

In the letters s a g - commonly critical, because they have more horizontal lines - there is not an appreciable difference between the fonts. While it is possible to prefer one of the 'a's to the others, the differences are only slight.

What makes the last 'quick brown fox' easier to read is the looser letterspacing. At eight points on the screen, the text in the other two fonts becomes too dark.

Despite the quality of the Verdana font family at small sizes it is at higher resolutions that they are best appreciated. In the words of Tom Rickner, "My hope now is that these faces will be enjoyed beyond just the computer screen. Although the screen size bitmaps were the most crucial in the production of these fonts...[their] uses should not be limited to on screen typography."

Matthew Carter

People with famous parents start life with a handicap. It becomes a serious handicap if the parents are famous in a field in which the child would like to make its own way.

Matthew Carter started with a very serious handicap, for his father, Harry Carter, was both a great scholar in the world of type and printing, and a type designer of extraordinary skill. His Cyrillic Baskerville, for example, will always be a model of grace and scholarship to anybody who has tried to learn what should be known about cyrillic alphabets.

It is said that Harry Carter learned Dutch on the boat from Harwich to Hook of Holland, and Hebrew making his way to Palestine in a variety of planes and boats during the second World War. What is galling to those of us whose grasp on other European languages is almost cursory is that Matthew seems to have the same easy facility. What is not galling to those of us who also have drawn typefaces for various 'imaging media' (in the kind of vocabulary that finds its way onto the Web) is the breathtaking skill that he shows in making type that works wherever it was meant to work.

We first met at the time he was drawing a sanserif face called Airport for signage at Heathrow, and was also mixed up in making Meridien at Crosfield, where a spinning disc was the negative carrier.

In due course he went to Brooklyn where he started drawing faces for Mergenthaler, usually filling some urgent need that seemed important at the time. Almost lost among this work was a considerable administrative ability, largely because it was so often used in propping up the lack of it among some of his colleagues.

Perhaps it was not until the formation of Bitstream, of which he was one of the four founders, that he became really well known to other than his peers. Bitstream became the darling of Seybold, and he and Mike Parker earned permanent places on every platform in the industry. But it was before these years, when they were both still at Linotype, that Snell Roundhand first appeared. Then, as Adobe and Macintosh were beginning to dominate the design industry, this was soon followed by Galliard, which became almost immediately the typeface in which everything was set, including the Seybold report itself. In all Matthew admits to having designed 23 faces, and some of these are families.

Many of these faces were, as so many must be and are, largely derivative, being based on writing books or metal faces from a previous age. It has been with faces like Bell Centennial that we have seen designs from Matthew Carter that owe little to any ideas except his own. Charter was made to work in a low resolution laser printing environment. There was also the set of screen fonts called Interchange.

But the projects that have occupied so much of this year have been to make designs that can gradually become more subtle as the resolution for which they are hinted increases. There has perhaps been no font family designed before these that has made such full use of the powerful capabilities of TrueType hinting. Thus what you see here is the elegant but simple form made for the screen. Printed out on paper the letterforms have become more complex and more legible.

Other online articles about Matthew Carter

The subtle art of Matthew Carter
An article by John Plunkett that appeared in Wired 3.08.

AgfaType Creative Alliance
A short piece about Matthew and his Alisal typeface.

Thomas Rickner

Thomas Rickner began his career in type design in 1987 as a bitmap editor for Omnipage Corporation, located near Rochester, New York. In 1988 he graduated from RIT's School of Printing Management and Sciences with a Bachelor's degree, and started work at QMS/Imagen Corporation, a laser printer manufacturer in Santa Clara, California. There, under the direction of noted type designer Charles Bigelow, he worked in the production and hinting of outline fonts for laser printers.

In the fall of 1989 Rickner joined Apple Computer, Inc. as lead typographer, supervising the production of the first TrueType fonts released with System 7, and working on the early development of TrueType GX. After two years at Apple, he began freelance type design work for The Font Bureau, Inc. where he produced custom TrueType, TrueType GX, PostScript Type 1 and Multiple Master fonts for clients such as Adobe, Apple, Microsoft and Prodigy.

Rickner joined Monotype Typography, Inc. in July of 1994. His work there has involved the conversion of Monotype's world renowned PostScript library to TrueType, as well as developing custom fonts for companies such as Lotus, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft. He continues to design original typefaces as time permits, some of which should be available for retail release in the coming months.

Using Verdana in your pages

Using Verdana within your own Web pages is easy. Simply enclose any text you want to be displayed in Verdana with the following HTML tags. To switch on Verdana use <FONT FACE="Verdana"> and to switch it off use the familiar </FONT>. You can, of course, combine the FACE attribute with the COLOR and SIZE attributes.

A complete tag might look something like <FONT FACE="Verdana" SIZE=4 COLOR="#30A0050"> and would give the following result on screen.

short Verdana text

Don't worry if some of your readers are using browsers which do not support the FONT FACE tag. These browsers will ignore the tag and display text using their default typeface. Likewise, if a reader is using Microsoft Internet Explorer and doesn't have the specified font installed a default will be used.

You can also use Web style sheets to specify Verdana. Please see our Guide to specifying fonts in Web pages for more details.

Verdana at various sizes

The following table shows how Verdana appears at each of the seven HTML font sizes.

Verdana at various sizes

to Recommended fonts
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this page last updated 23 April 1997
© 1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Terms of use.
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