There are so many fonts available. It can feel a bit overwhelming trying to figure out which one works best for which project. Taking a look at the history of the font and the ways other designers have used the font, though, can make a huge difference. Let’s take a look at the font, Georgia. It’s a versatile typeface that works well with text that will display on a screen.
Like other serif designs, Georgia has a formalness to it — but it stays readable on a variety of screen sizes. The history of the font is inspired by Scotch Roman designs from the 1800s, and it came to life in 1993, thanks to Matthew Carter.
Where did the name “Georgia” come from? It’s said that the idea for the typeface name came from a headline at the time: “Alien Heads found in Georgia.”
Carter’s father was a British historian of typography, even working for Her Majesty’s Stationery Office and University Press at Oxford. This inspired Carter in his own work with typefaces.
The Internet was growing by leaps and bounds in the early 90s, so there was a real need for fonts that would look good even at low resolutions. Georgia fits that bill because it creates an interesting typeface that is still legible and easy to read.
The initial release of Georgia was bundled in the core fonts for Web. It then came as a supplemental pack of fonts. The font was compatible with both Windows and Mac computers, and because the font looked the same on both systems, it became popular with designers. Everyone on the team could easily work on the same design without it being skewed on different platforms.
What is Georgia Font?
Georgia has strokes that are both thick and thin, switching back and forth between the two. It is slightly italic looking, but not quite as slanted. If you’ve studied calligraphy, then this font might look slightly familiar because the letters blend one to the next. This creates a continuous look throughout the text.
The lower case letters in Georgia are a bit taller than some other fonts. And the typeface is darker, which makes it easy to read even at smaller sizes. One way to describe Georgia is that it is similar to Times New Roman but is taller and bolder.
Carter points out that when they were designed, Georgia and Verdana were about binary bitmaps and turning every pixel either on or off in black or white.
What Does the Font Imply?
Georgia has been described as having a typographic personality — even called friendly and intimate. Since the typeface is still legible at low resolutions, it creates an old-world charm with a modern appeal for online designs.
Georgia is a bit more formal than some of the more common sans serif fonts. However, it’s not so formal as to look old school. If you are looking for a font that is a bit more regal, but not stiff, then this is the one you definitely must look at.
Where It’s Commonly Found/Used
Georgia is specifically created for on-screen use, so you’ll find it often online in magazine or newspaper designs. For example, there are a number of big-name newspapers that use Georgia font, including the Guardian, New York Times Times, Telegraph, Wall Street Journal and the Independent.
Since newspapers are a mix of images and text, it’s vital that the reader can easily scan over lines of text and that it remain readable. Also, the text size might vary based upon the size of the reader’s screen. Georgia adapts well to smaller font sizes. So it will still appear crisp and readable even on a small mobile device screen.
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What Should It Be Used As
Georgia works well for anything you are designing for the screen. In addition to online newspapers, blogs and websites, consider all the other ways you might use this font online. For example, if you are creating an online resume for employers, Georgia is crisp and clean. It will be unique from all the Arial and Times New Roman resumes out there. Even if you just plan to email the resume, this can help you stand out from the hundreds of other applicants.
Need to create some memes to promote your business? Georgia is an excellent font to use for these purposes. Even if you place it over a background, it should remain more legible than many of the other fonts. Remember that Georgia’s bold is a bit bolder than the bold of some other fonts, so you can make a substantial impact.
Comparable Styles and Pairings
Georgia is transitional, meaning it shares elements from both old serif styles and modern styles. That makes it a bit harder to match than some of the other fonts out there. Georgia is a versatile font you can use for almost any purpose. However, if you’re looking for something similar to Georgia but not quite as common, try these fonts.
A Google font very similar in appearance to Georgia. PT stands for ParaType and has been around since 1998, so it hints at TrueType while still pulling in modern elements. There are six styles in the font family, including regular, bold and italic weights.
This Google font also has similar serifs to Georgia, although the strokes are a bit bolder for this particular font. It works perfectly for headlines and even subheadings, but might be a bit too wide for body text on smaller screen sizes.
In addition to the fonts above, any font with a straight-edged serif will give you a familiar look that reminds one of Georgia.
You might also wonder what fonts pair well with Georgia. In the examples of Georgia, you likely noticed designers often combine the serif-based Georgia with a sans-serif font, creating a clean, crisp look. Here are some sans-serif fonts that pair well.
Georgia and Lato have similar widths, and both have medium X-heights, helping them pair well.
Arimo meshes well with Georgia because it is mainly a sans-serif font with a similar height, but there are small flourishes on letters like “Q,” “G” and “J,” which complement Georgia.
Similar to Georgia, Helvetica has some modern and some old-time elements. It pairs well with Georgia because of these similarities, yet a lack of as many serifs as Georgia contains.
If you choose a simple sans-serif font with a similar height and width to Georgia, it’s hard to go wrong. Try out different fonts and see which ones you like best together.
Examples of Georgia in Use
Georgia is a cross between regal and casual style and works well almost anywhere as a headline. The serifs add a touch of elegance and Old World flavor, and the straight lines give the font a modern edge.
Progetty uses Georgia, or something very similar, in second-tier text throughout their site. The headline is in a sans-serif font, so the decorative touches in the descriptive text grab the user’s eye.
Storybird meshes Georgia and Times New Roman to create a modern look that is reminiscent of children’s magazines of the past couple of decades. Georgia is in the headlines and also in some of the descriptive text, but navigation and other headlines are in a sans-serif font. Again, the mixture of serif and sans serif on the same page is striking.
Taylor Stitch uses Georgia in their headlines, lending bold strokes to their titles, which also speaks to the rugged nature of their products. They also use Times New Roman for the navigation and calls to action throughout the site. The design puts the focus on their headlines first, helping the user better understand their product before moving toward the action the brand wants them to take.
Time magazine uses a Georgia-looking font on their site to give the entire aesthetic a magazine appearance, even online. Note the sans serif headers and the use of Georgia for the subheadings and the body text. The overall effect recalls a glossy print magazine and draws the user into the story, rather than focusing on the typography. The fonts are familiar, so they don’t distract users from the purpose of the page.
Versatile In Nature
When it comes to using Georgia, the sky really is the limit. Although it was created specifically for screen use, it can translate well in print, too. Just test it and make sure it is as crisp as you desire before sending to the printer. In smaller font sizes, it should look just as good as any other font for print work. Larger sizes may require a bit more tweaking or mixing in an additional font to ensure you have the crispest lines possible.
Georgia does tend to work better on the web than in print. So you may want to consider using Georgia for online material and a different font for print materials to be on the safe side.
This versatile font was created during a time when the Internet needed something that would appear crisp on lower-resolution screens. Although there have been some advances in this area over the years, Georgia still remains a favorite among designers. There is no doubt that the font will continue to be useful to designers and applied widely in online newspapers and other online media.
This article was originally published on 9/05/2017 and updated on 5/24/2019.
The Font Series Guide
Chapter 1: 15 Google Fonts You Should Be Using
Chapter 2: Times New Roman
Chapter 3: Roboto
Chapter 4: Georgia
Chapter 5: Verdana
Chapter 6: Helvetica
Chapter 7: Comic Sans
Chapter 8: Didot
Chapter 9: Arial
Chapter 10: Tahoma
Chapter 11: Garamond
Chapter 12: Century Gothic
Chapter 13: Brody
Chapter 14: Bromello
Chapter 15: Savoy
Chapter 16: Athene