Review: ‘Use Any Font’ Plugin for WordPress

We have seen many efforts to bring customizable fonts to the web, from primitive rasterized characters in the early days to Macromedia/Adobe’s SWF fonts and Google’s Webfonts, which are probably the most successful mass market implementations. The goal has always been to take your fonts and make them appear the way you see them for everyone who accesses your website.

Traditionally this has been challenging, limited to fonts on the user’s computer or requiring them to download and install fonts from some source on the web. Google’s Webfont system is probably the best implementation, with lots of fonts available, but not working with just any font unless you upload and convert it. They’ve made this very convenient to do, but it’s still an extra step.

The ideal solution for a website operator would be to be able to install fonts in his web hosting software and have it use them in the layouts for their web pages seamlessly, while retaining the security of the font files. Previous implementations of this, such as Cufon, have been slow and awkward, but with so many clever minds working on the problem a solution was inevitable.

There may be other solutions, but right now the “Use Any Font” plugin for WordPress is the best I’ve seen, combining ease of use with a fairly seamless implementation and fairly robust features.

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“Use Any Font” is simple and follows the implementation pattern of other WordPress functions, like the image gallery. You click the “Add Fonts” button, use a standard dialog to find a TrueType or OpenType font on your computer and save it with a name of your choice.  The font is then added to a list of installed fonts.

To use a font, you assign it to a html tag. You can pick a number of tags, including h1-6, hyperlinks and several styles of text. This means you could use several different fonts on the same page with no problem.  When you save your selection the fonts are immediately in use on your site.  The only real shortcoming of this system is the restrictions inherent in html tags.  You can’s specifically change one section of text unless you have a tag to use, but the higher numbered title tags (h5 or h6) are usually not used for other purposes so they can fill that need.  A real improvement would be to let you define new html tags to expand the number of fonts you can use.  But for most users that’s more than they need.  The use of tags is universal, so the fonts you assign to them will also work in comments.

You can see “Use Any Font” in use on this site.  We’ve assigned Folkard Caption to the primary title links and to hyperlinks and assigned Ripley to h6 for special uses. Don’t over use it, but the ability to use custom fonts can add a lot of panache to a page.

“Use Any Font” is available through the WordPress plugin manager. Once you have it installed it requires an API code for activation at a cost of $30.

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