Self-hosted fonts

Self-hosted fonts

Updated

Self-hosted fonts are font files that are served from your own servers - rather than those of a third-party font provider (for example, Google Fonts).

It is incredibly important to deliver fonts quickly: faster font delivery not only means that text will be visible to the user sooner - but it also has a large impact on whether a font causes layout shifts. If a font cannot be delivered before it is needed, there will typically be a layout shift when the font is swapped. The size of this layout shift can vary depending on how closely the fallback font matches the web font. To see this phenomena in action, view the demo and compare the layout shifts that occur on a fast connection versus a slow connection.

The example below combines two performance techniques to deliver a self-hosted font as quickly as possible: use of inline font declarations and use of the WOFF2 font format.

  • Inline font declarations: Inlining @font-face and font-family declarations in the main document, rather than including this information in an external stylesheet, allows the browser to determine which font files will be used on the page without having to wait for a separate stylesheet file to download. This is important because generally browsers will not download font files until they know that they are used on the page. In most situations, inline font declarations are preferable to using preload to load fonts.

  • WOFF2: Of the modern font fonts, WOFF2 is the newest, has the widest browser support, and offers the best compression. Because it uses Brotli, WOFF2 compresses 30% better than WOFF.

To further improve performance, consider using font subsetting. Font subsetting is the practice of breaking a font file into smaller subsets - typically with the goal of removing unused glyphs. This can significantly reduce the filesize of a font. Tools for creating font subsets include fontkit, subfont, and glyphhanger.

For more information on best practices for self-hosted fonts, see Using self-hosted fonts.

<head>
    <style>
        @font-face {
            font-family: 'Google Sans';
            src: url("GoogleSans-Regular.woff2") format('woff2');
            font-display: swap;
        }
        body {
            font-family: system-ui;
            font-size: 1em;
        }
        h1 {
            font-family: 'Google Sans', sans-serif;
            font-size: 3em;
        }
    </style>
</head>
Last updated: Improve article