is a simple web app that scans the top 1,000,000 sites on the Web in order to rank font usage. Visit the site, enter the name of a typeface, and the site will tell you where it is in the rankings, how many of the top million sites are using it, and even which sites those are. According to FontReach’s stats, the number 1 font on the Web is Arial, currently used on 616,190 of the top million sites. That 62% of the Web. Variations such as Arial Rounded and Arial Cyrillic are also listed, although they lag behind. If you know a little about web typography, you can start to be more discerning with the data; for example Twitter doesn’t use Arial, Neue Helvetica, sans-serif, Monospace, Georgia, Tahoma, and New Courier. Clearly FontReach is detecting font stacks; so Arial isn’t the most viewed font on the Web, it’s simply the most common fallback. Once you understand that this is an automated, non-curated list, it has some fascinating insights, and some surprises: Open Sans is only number 22. PMN Caecilia is only number 1,078. Neue Helvetica (used on 263,112 sites) is ranked 3rd, outperforming Helvetica (used on a paltry 177,569 sites) which is only ranked 7th. Devotees of fine typography will be delighted to learn that “sans-serif”, also known as “I don’t care, just don’t give me any of those stupid pointy bits” is the 4th most popular ‘font’; although it seems likely font-stacking is to blame here too. Scroll down the league into the hundreds and you’ll find not all the fonts listed are typefaces, there many icon fonts too. If you’re keen to find a distinct typeface, Fontreach will tell you when no results are found. The excellent Massif isn’t used once, and neither is the beautiful Mrs Eaves. As for FontReach itself, it uses Brandon Grotesque (ranked 108th).
Ben Moss is Senior Editor at WebdesignerDepot. He’s designed and coded work for award-winning startups, and global names including IBM, UBS, and the FBI. One of these days he’ll run a sub-4hr marathon. Say hi on Twitter.