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I'm setting up my email client on OS X, and am not sure which font to select in Mail so as to ensure a consistent appearance across devices. In particular, iOS is a problem as I cannot seem to find a list of pre-installed fonts.

I am targeting:

  • Microsoft Windows (XP+)
  • Apple Mac OS X (10.5+)
  • Apple iOS (5+)

As far as I can tell, the only candidate appears to be Arial, but I am hopeful that there are others.

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

The list of fonts you actually need to know is the list of the web safe fonts.

The reason is that, when a mail client like Outlook, Thunderbird, or Mail on OS X or iOS displays an HTML mail message, it uses some well-established HTML layout engine. For example, Thunderbird uses the same layout engine used by Firefox, which is Gecko, and Mail uses WebKit, which is the one that renders HTML pages in Safari and Chrome.

Below is the list of web safe fonts recommended to be relied upon by

Serif Fonts

  • Georgia
  • Palatino Linotype
  • Times New Roman

Sans-Serif Fonts

  • Arial
  • Arial Black (not available on iOS 5)
  • Comic Sans MS (not available on iOS 5)
  • Impact (not available on iOS 5)
  • Lucida Sans Unicode (not available on iOS 5)
  • Tahoma (not available on iOS 5)
  • Trebuchet MS
  • Verdana

Monospace Fonts

  • Courier New
  • Lucida Console

Alternative lists of web safe fonts:

Common fonts to all versions of Windows & Mac equivalents

Safe web fonts

More information: Web typography

As for iOS in particular, you can check what fonts are installed on an iOS device using Typefaces app, which is free, or using this online tool.

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Thanks for your answer Desmond. I would like to know which of these fonts are available across all three platforms. For example, I do not believe that Arial Black and Comic Sans MS are available on iOS. – Redandwhite Mar 6 '13 at 11:25
@Redandwhite Also added a mention of – Desmond Hume Mar 6 '13 at 11:37
@Redandwhite I think Comic Sans is but for the love of god don't use that. – MrMisterMan Mar 6 '13 at 13:17
@Redandwhite that's wonderful news! ;-) – MrMisterMan Mar 6 '13 at 13:43
Unfortunately, iOS does come with an equally bad MarkerFelt ( font. – Chris Gregg Mar 6 '13 at 14:07

To know which fonts are preinstalled on iOS, you could google it on

There is a font list for iOS 7.

It seems that the iOS 8 counterpart hasn't been published yet.

The union of fonts installed on Windows and that on Mac/iOS is quite small (web safe fonts). If you really care about typography you may need to learn HTML in e-mail. Good luck.

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