05 February

Best fonts for email: Usage tips and tricks

Anton Diduh
Anton Diduh Content writer & Video content creator at Stripo
Table of contents
  1. HTML email fonts: General rules to follow
  2. Email safe fonts
  3. What is the best font to use for email newsletters?
  4. Use of custom fonts in emails
  5. Email font design practices
  6. Line spacing for email fonts
  7. Email fonts text over banners
  8. Email font color
  9. Accessibility guidelines for email fonts and email copy as such
  10. Wrapping up
HTML email fonts: General rules to follow

One of the most striking concerns in the email design process is choosing the right font. Weight, height, width, color, shape, spacing… Does everything matter? Yes, it does, but also one of the most crucial things is to choose legible typography.

In this post, we're going to show you how to choose the best professional font for email.

HTML email fonts: General rules to follow

There are three ground rules to keep in mind when choosing the best fonts for email:

1. Don’t use more than two email fonts at once

This is a fairly common practice not only in email design but also in web design and so on. If you use too many fonts, your email seems very complicated in the best case and annoying in the worst one. The best practice is to choose only a font or two for one email. In a perfect case, that’s enough to use only one perfect typography but different sizes: one to highlight the heading and another one for the rest of your content.

2. Use font styles carefully

As tempting as it may be to use font styles at every opportunity, your approach needs to be thoughtful. Each style should be used in moderation and in its own special cases, for example:

  • bold style is best for Highlighting Important phrases or keywords;
  • italic style is used to emphasize quotes, foreign words, titles (books, blogs, publications, etc.);
  • underline is mainly used for links, as in the online space, it is difficult to distinguish a link from regular underlined text, which can cause confusion.

However, using Italics to highlight entire paragraphs of text will not only look unpresentable but also violate accessibility guidelines. The same applies to underlining. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you do not underline your copy but use bold instead for email accessibility reasons. But of course, it is up to you.

3. Stick to accessibility requirements when choosing fonts

Email accessibility is a big design trend of 2024, and fonts are a part of it. Accessibility has its own requirements that are vital to stick to. We will talk about the fonts' accessibility rules and requirements in a separate section, “Accessibility guidelines for email fonts”.

4. Pay close attention to the legibility of the chosen font

Legibility is the ability to distinguish one letter from another. Of course, legible body text is better and faster to read.

What is the most readable typography? The experiment about font legibility was conducted by Norbert Schwarz and Hyunjin Song in 2010. The results were impressive. You spend almost twice as much time reading italic font styles and decorative fonts compared to regular ones.

Best Fonts for Emails _ Test

There are two major types: Serif and Sans Serif font. Let's see which font to use for email newsletters.

Which email font to choose: a Serif or a Sans Serif font?

What’s the difference between them?

Serif fonts could be defined as fonts that have a small line at the end of every character. The most popular serif fonts are Times New Roman and Georgia.

Sans serif fonts don’t have a decorative line at the end of every symbol. The most popular sans-serif safe fonts are Arial, Trebuchet MS, and Helvetica.

Serif Fonts Comparison

During the investigation, I have found several sources which claimed that serif fonts are most suitable for emails, but I totally disagree. Based on the assumption that emails are being observed only online using desktop or mobile screens, the best are sans serif fonts. It’s easier to read sans-serif characters on the screen.

Email safe fonts

Here is the list of the top 10 fonts that you may use with a 100% guarantee that they will render in users’ inboxes just like you planned:

1. Arial email font

This font, designed back in 1982, is packaged with all versions of Microsoft, starting from Windows 3 and Apple Mac OS X. Displayed by all email clients. Due to terminal diagonal cuts, it looks less mechanical compared to other sans serifs.

Arial Font for Emails

2. Helvetica email font

A sans-serif typeface, one of the most used fonts of type, has rounded letters and wide capitals. Designed in 1957.

Helvetica Font for Emails

3. Times New Roman email font

This perfect font has tall low-case letters, slightly condensed, short descenders and ascenders. Commissioned by “The Times” in 1931. This is one of the favorite fonts from the sans serifs font families of many internet users and web designers.

Times New Roman Font for Emails

4. Verdana email font

It was designed to be readable on low-resolution screens. Its main feature is tall and wide low-case characters.

Verdana Font for Emails

5. Courier/Courier New email font

Courier was designed in 1955 and adjusted to be a monospaced font. Courier New has heavier dots and commas than the original Courier. Courier is the standard modern font used for screenwriting in the film industry.

Courier and Courier New Fonts for Emails

6. Tahoma email font

It is similar to Verdana yet has narrower letters, small counters, and tight letter spacing. Used as the default screen font for Windows 95, 2000, and XP versions.

Tahoma Font For Emails

7. Georgia email font

It has tall lower-case strokers that are thicker than average ones, its numerals blend seamlessly with the text due to its similar size.

Georgia Font for Emails

8. Palatino email font

This perfect font was originally designed for headings, advertisements, and printing. Wider than other old-style serif fonts and perfectly suits logo design.

Palatino Font for Emails

9. Trebuchet MS email font

Has shortened tails for some letters; in bold, its letters are pointy rather than rounded, and rounded dots in uppercase and lowercase letters. Released in 1996.

Trebuchet MS Font for Emails

10. Geneva email font

This is a redesigned version of Helvetica. Its main distinction is that it has a basic set of ligatures.

Geneva Font for Emails

These email-friendly fonts are said to be the most readable and one of the best fonts for email design.

Where to get email-safe fonts?

The great thing about the secure email-safe font style is that you don't have to worry about downloading them. They are already supported by every subscriber's email client.

What is the best font to use for email newsletters?

There's no such thing as the best font. It depends on the language you're speaking. As a result, we dare to say that preferences vary from country to country due to language features.

Helvetica is one of the most popular fonts used by 25% of people for design purposes. Times New Roman takes 2nd place. 

Another example is the German language. Verdana is not recommended for German texts because the final quotation marks are displayed upside down. This was fixed only in Verdana Pro font.

To choose the most legible sans serif font, in your opinion, according to your alphabet features, you may test all the sans serif fonts as we did.

I have created an email template with Stripo editor with the same text and the same size of 18px for each serif font.

Choosing Email Fonts from the List for Your Future Campaigns

Use of custom fonts in emails

There are cases when you want or need to use a custom font for your emails either to stay brand-consistent or to make your emails look more festive for a special occasion.

We want to remind you that you can upload custom typefaces to your Stripo to get just what you need in terms of unique typefaces for your email campaigns.

How to Add and Use Custom Fonts with Stripo

Given that some custom fonts, depending on the email client, can either be rendered as is or replaced with the default one., we strongly recommend that you preview these emails across multiple environments. You can do it with our embedded testing tool. Why exactly do you need to do this? S.

Here are the default typefaces for email clients:

  • iCloud Mail uses Helvetica as a default font;
  • Gmail adopts Arial font;
  • Microsoft Outlook of the oldest versions often uses Calibri font.

Email font design practices

Let’s talk about different email font design practices you should consider when choosing fonts for your emails.

Size of the email fonts matters

Quite often, different fonts have different symbol heights. As a result, the same, say, 16px font will be different due to the chosen font family.

Email Safe Fonts _ Working on Emailing Font Size

Line spacing for email fonts

Line spacing is the vertical distance between lines. It is measured as the percentage of the letter size. 

You can set the desired spacing for your emails just in the tabs and sections where you've just set your sizes.

According to Email accessibility guidelines, the best line spacing varies between 150% and 200%.

Spacing _ Web Fonts

(email copy with single-line spacing)

One and six point interval

(email copy with 1.6-line spacing)

Email fonts text over banners

Here is the chance to use a festive, decorative, or handwritten font that you shouldn’t actually use as the main text font.

Since the text over a banner is part of an image, it will render the same across all email clients. And it is expected to be festive enough. So you may choose any.  

Please be advised that it’s better to choose a legible font style.

Best Email Fonts _ Working On Banners

Our amazing support team made a full-fledged guide on adding text over banners with step-by-step instructions. Check it out.

Email font color

There are only 2 rules you should follow here:

1. Keep the number of colors to a minimum

We recommend you use the font colors that are present in your brand guidelines. If you want to highlight one sentence, a phrase, or a link, just use a bold font style. In most cases, using a lot of colors is ambiguous. But keep in mind that this advice is our subjective opinion.

Example of a good color combination in emails.

Font Colors in Emails

(Source: Email from Victoria's Secret)

2. Use contrast colors

If you intend to use different colors, use contrasting colors to make your copy legible for color-blind people. Be sure to check if they are contrasting enough with the following tools:

  • accessible colors to check the color contrast of the email body (copy and other elements, excluding imagery);
  • Coblis, color blindness simulator — it checks whether your images are accessible for color-blind people.

Speaking of email accessibility…

Accessibility guidelines for email fonts and email copy as such

In a nutshell, we should consider these guidelines for several reasons:

  • to enable color-blind people to read our emails and implement needed colors to your email design project;
  • to enable people with visual impairments to listen to our emails with screen readers;
  • to enable our users who are extremely busy and check their emails while driving or cooking and ask Siri to “read” their incoming messages, to listen to our emails;
  • to enable dyslectics to read our emails — as many of the people who suffer from dyslexia are not aware of it, but reading unadapted texts is quite unbearable to them;
  • keep your email design to a maximum of two sans serif fonts.

So, the guidelines to make your email text accessible:

  1. Consider color contrast.
  2. Make your texts left-aligned for easier perception of email copy by dyslectics — avoid center-aligned texts.
  3. Always add punctuation marks at the end of every bullet point. Yes, it may be against grammar rules, but by doing this, we make our emails more legible and make at least one recipient happier.
  4. Keep font size 14 pixels or more.
  5. Do not underline texts.
  6. Avoid Italic. If you need to highlight any part of your text, use only bold type!
  7. Do not use all caps!
  8. Consider legible fonts for your emails.
  9. Use not more than two fonts.
  10. Combine different fonts with thick and thin strokes.

You might also like

email-accessibility-guidelines-standards-best-practicesEmail accessibility guidelines: Standards and best practices

Wrapping up

Considering all the above, we can say there are no professional fonts that are legible and look nice across all kinds of devices. You always have to choose between sans-serif fonts.

Apart from choosing the right email font, we need to make our emails accessible by sticking to the guidelines mentioned above.

Stripo offers a number of email-safe and decorative fonts. You can also upload custom ones
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Sanjay Wishtree 1 year ago
This is a very informative article. Thanks for sharing these helpful articles. Web Tecky
Alex O'Cardy 2 years ago
Legibility is indeed really important when it comes to email fonts, I've seen some newsletters where you had to take some time to figure out what's written there.
Anton Diduh 1 year ago
Hi! We fully agree with you. Readability is a critical aspect of any email design and a vital ingredient for improving the accessibility of email newsletters.
Woland Petrov 2 years ago
I can't choose between Helvetica and Arial, and now that I've learned that they're both the most popular email fonts, it makes it even harder to decide
Anton Diduh 1 year ago
Hi! Yes, the design process is a bit tricky thing. We hope you made the right choice)
Andron Silver 2 years ago
Do you think it's a good idea to use the most popular email fonts? Futura and Helvetica are the most attractive to me, but choosing one is hard.
Anton Diduh 1 year ago
Hello) Using popular fonts is a great way to make your email beautiful without mistakes. However, nothing prevents you from standing out from the crowd and using less popular fonts. If in your design they will look chic, then why not?)
John Smith 2 years ago
I'm so glad I discovered this article! Fonts for Email are hard to choose, and before reading your post, I thought about using four fonts in one newsletter.
Anton Diduh 1 year ago
Hello! We are glad that you liked this blog post.)
Errico Malatesta 2 years ago
So italic fonts are not the best? I thought about using them in my newsletters, but now I understand that it's better to choose the regular email fonts.
Galileo Cardinale 2 years ago
I've never thought that choosing the email fonts would be so hard. I was planning to use italic font styles, but now I know it's not a good idea.
Scott Piligrimm 2 years ago
I'm planning to use Helvetica Now, it's indeed pretty modern. Fonts for Email are quite hard to choose, and I can tell you I even thought about making custom one.
Woland Petrov 2 years ago
It's actually convenient that you can set the different email fonts sizes for mobile and desktop devices, don't remember if it was possible with my previous email template builder.
John Morrow 2 years ago
I didn't even know that underlining links was not preferable, noted. I'll definitely use these tips for the email fonts, thanks!
Anton Diduh 1 year ago
Hi! We're glad we could help)
Bill Shiphr 2 years ago
Thanks for the post and the ability to copy HTML tags, that's actually convenient! I'll definitely use these email fonts in my next project.
Anton Diduh 1 year ago
Hi! Always happy to help.)
Paulo Marreiros 3 years ago
Excelente o artigo dessa página. De muito gosto! Todos as minhas dúvidas e ac e acredito que também de outras pessoas, foram esclarecidas. PauloMar/São Paulo, Brazil.
Hanna Kuznietsova 3 years ago
Paulo, Obrigado por uma revisão tão agradável. Estamos muito felizes que o artigo tenha sido útil. Desejamos sinceramente o melhor em suas campanhas
pirates 3 years ago
nice blog theme you use in your blog can you share which theme you are using
Hanna Kuznietsova 3 years ago
Hello, Pirates. Thank you for your question. If you are talking about the font we are using, it is Montserrat, 16px. If it's not what you asked us about, then could you clarify please what theme exactly you mean? Thank you
Igor Greshner 4 years ago
Parabéns pela excelente pesquisa! Esclareceu bastante minhas dúvidas, sou a favor da Verdana e Tahoma a anos, por ser um formato mais agradável para ler.
Hanna Kuznietsova 4 years ago
Igor, Muito obrigado )) Estamos muito satisfeitos que nosso artigo seja útil. Desejo-lhe sucesso em email marketing
Khairom Munawwar Baharom 4 years ago
Hi Hannah. Do Montserrat font can go multi-platform on email? (Gmail, Outlook, etc..)
Hanna Kuznietsova 4 years ago
Khairom, Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, it is not a websafe font. I just uploaded Montserrat to my account, sent an email to some email addresses. Only Apple Mail and Apple iPhone Mail (Native Mail on iOS) did not replace Montserrat with a default font. Others did replace it with the default fonts. Tests with Email on Acid just confirmed that Montserrat gets to be replaced by Gmail and Outlook.
Martin Schenk 4 years ago
Für deutsche Texte ist Verdana und Tahoma nicht empfehlenswert, da die abschließenden Anführungszeichen "verkehrt" dargestellt werden.
Hanna Kuznietsova 4 years ago
Vielen Dank für Ihren wertvollen Kommentar. Wir haben die notwendigen Änderungen an unserem Artikel vorgenommen. Viel glück
rohit dubey 5 years ago
Thanks for sharing this amazing content. This is really helpful for us.
Hanna Kuznietsova 5 years ago
Rohit Dubey, We're glad to hear you find this helpful. You might be interested to know that you can upload custom fonts to your projects with Stripo. Have a great day!
Marcia Bosscher 5 years ago
What font are you using for this post? I like it!
Hanna Kuznietsova 5 years ago
Marcia, Thank you. We are flattered to know. It's Montserrat, 16px. For your convenience, to detect fonts on other websites, you can use this tool Have a good day
Myron Gould 5 years ago
I found this article to be a very helpful refresher. Thank you!
Hanna Kuznietsova 5 years ago
Myron, We're glad you liked it. You may be also interested in reading Paul Airy's post to find out which of the web-safe fonts is best for email accessibility. Also, we're glad to say that you can upload custom fonts with Stripo. If you have any questions about custom, web-safe and accessible fonts, or if you have any questions regarding our tool, please feel free to contact us at any time. Thank you for your interest in our blog!
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