System fonts or don’t bother

What about typog­ra­phy within emails? Unfor­tu­nately, due to the tech­ni­cal con­straints of email sys­tems, your options are lim­ited.

Unlike a PDF, fonts don’t get trans­mit­ted with an email. So even though you can com­pose an email in any font you like, recip­i­ents won’t see that font unless they also hap­pen to have it installed. More­over, recip­i­ents get their email using a vari­ety of hard­ware and soft­ware, which have incon­sis­tent and unpre­dictable typo­graphic capa­bil­i­ties.

This leaves two plau­si­ble poli­cies:

  1. If you must for­mat your emails, stick with com­mon system fonts, and make sure your mes­sages don’t rely on spac­ing tricks spe­cific to the font. (Those of you who insist on align­ing things with mul­ti­ple word spaces were already warned.) Sim­pler is bet­ter.

  2. Or you can just treat email as a typog­ra­phy-free zone. This is my pol­icy.