Using native system fonts

Extremely fast-loading, built-in system fonts that look great.

Here's the native system font stack that I currently use for all of my projects, unless the client has a preference to something else.

font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Helvetica, Arial,
  sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol';

Why use this font stack?

Loading special fonts takes time to load, and sometimes leads to the dreaded flash when a website loads and the font changes - which is terrible for user experience.

I always recommend keeping things simple and not using special fonts "just to use them," but rather, if your brand or personal style really needs it. And when doing so, only load the exact font weights that you use.

In addition, this stack is really popular right now for sans-serif user interfaces, and was made famous by GitHub. It loads instantly and looks great in any OS since it uses the default font for that system.

Here's a breakdown taken from an incredible post about GitHub's switch to system fonts from Mark Otto, Senior Director of Design at GitHub.

  • apple-system and BlinkMacSystemFont render the default fonts in Safari and Chrome on macOS and iOS.
  • Segoe UI is for all browsers on Windows 7+.
  • Helvetica Neue and Arial are a fallback.
  • Apple Color Emoji, Segoe UI Emoji, Segoe UI Symbol ensure that emoji's are rendered well on macOS and Windows.

Bonus - styling for code snippets

Check out my prism.js post for tips and my complete styles for syntax highlighting, but below is a CSS snippet for my <code /> styling.

code {
  font-size: 14px;
  font-weight: 400;
  font-family: source-code-pro, Menlo, Monaco, Consolas, Courier New, monospace;
  line-height: 20px;
  white-space: pre-wrap;
  word-break: break-word;
  color: #555;
  background-color: #f9f9f9;
  border-radius: 5px;
  padding: 10px;


Fonts are important and can really be a time-killer when you're trying to style a website or application. When in doubt, use the font below and call it a day - it's really popular and looks great on any device. And if you really need a special font, Google Fonts is a great place to start. Happy coding! SL

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