Picto thématique

Rule n° 185 - A generic font family is listed as the last alternative in font family lists.

On your system, everything is fine, the display of your fonts is perfect. But what happens to users who don't have one of your fonts installed on their hardware? It's time to call up the substitute font (serif, sans-serif or other, it's up to you).

#Presentation #Development


  • Enable your content to display correctly,
  • even when the planned fonts don’t exist on a user’s system.


In each CSS stylesheet, indicate the appropriate generic font family in the font-family or font properties:

  • For serif fonts (such as Times Roman), specify the generic serif font family last. In the following example, the term "serif" has been correctly added as the last item in the list of fonts: font-family: Georgia, "Bookman OldStyle", serif.
  • For sans serif fonts (such as Arial), specify the generic sans-serif font family last. For example: font-family: Optima, "Trebuchet MS", sans-serif;
  • For monospace fonts (such as Courier), specify the monospace generic font family last. For example, font-family: Courier, monospace ;
  • Likewise, use the generic cursive and fantasy families for the handwritten and fantasy fonts.

Find out more:


In all CSS style sheets (for all media: screen, print, etc.):

  • Check using a browser development tool that each font or font-family property contains one of the terms relating to generic font families: serif, sans-serif, monospace, cursive or fantasy;
  • Check that these terms are located at the end of the listing for each font or font-family property;
  • Ensure the relevance of the generic family indicated: serif for serif fonts, sans-serif for sans serif fonts, monospace, cursive or fantasy in special cases.

This can also be checked by validating the HTML page using the W3C CSS validator (http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/) which then warns if there are no generic font families.

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