Fonts Working Group Charter [DRAFT]

The mission of the Fonts Working Group, part of the Fonts Activity, is to allow wider use of fonts on the Web by identifying a font format that can be supported by all user agents, balancing font vendor concerns with the needs of authors and users and the simplicity of implementation.

Note: Please send comments to www-font@w3.org. This document is expected to change significantly in the future.

End date 30 June 2010
Confidentiality Public
Initial Chairs ??
Initial Team Contacts
(FTE %: 30)
Bert Bos, Chris Lilley
Meeting Schedule weekly telcons, two ftf meetings

Letterforms that honor and elucidate what humans see and say deserve to be honored in their return. Well-chosen words deserve well-chosen letters; these in turn deserve to be set with affection, intelligence, knowledge and skill.

Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographic Style, 1992


The stylistic richness of the Web has grown with the widespread adoption of standards-based web authoring, but web authors are currently limited to a restricted set of commonly available fonts. For non-Latin script languages this set often dwindles to a mere few. Authors of scientific and technical publications lack commonly available fonts that support necessary symbolic notation and rarely used or ancient languages are often not supported at all.

Web fonts, a mechanism for linking to fonts, was defined in the CSS2 specification via @font-face rules but has not been widely implemented until recently. Based on work done for supporting embedded font use in Office documents, Microsoft created a font wrapper, the Embedded OpenType format, and implemented it in Internet Explorer in 1996. More recently, other vendors have implemented direct linking to TrueType and OpenType fonts but font designers have expressed concern that this approach will lead to increased unlicensed font usage. With Flash widely available, some authors use Flash-based image replacement techniques as a way of working around the lack of a commonly supported font format.

The goals for this font format are:

As part of the discussion, the Group should also consider:

This font format is a wrapper format that envelopes OpenType/TrueType font data, user agents would use data in this format by restoring the data to its original OpenType/TrueType form before use. The exact nature and specifics of this format will be determined by the group through open discussions to meet the needs of font vendors, browser vendors and content authors and maintainers.

This format is intended as a complementary font format, rather than a universal format, for use with fonts whose license does not permit direct linking or in situations where the direct use of linked fonts is not preferred. The format is intended for:

  1. Web user agents, such as HTML browsers
  2. Font vendors (and licensors)
  3. Web content authors
  4. Web masters and maintainers of Websites
  5. Stylesheet authors

Success Criteria

The working group aims to make a W3C Recommendation, which also requires developing a test suite. The Recommendation should be implemented (both renderers and authoring tools) on at least two different platforms (e.g. Windows, Linux, Android, etc.).

The group may organize one or more workshops or meetings to gather feedback, to coordinate implementations, etc. One goal is also to continue the dialog with font designers, font resellers and graphic designers.

Out of Scope

The @font-face font linking mechanism is defined by the CSS Working Group, not this group, although the group may propose changes to the CSS Working Group. The new font format is not intended to extend the CSS fonts specifications, but rather define a new format for font resources that can be used with the CSS fonts specification.

Development of an entirely new font format, one independent of an underlying existing font format, is considered out of scope.


The expected deliverables are:

The group may also need to register an Internet Media Type for embedded fonts.

Other Deliverables

The working group will review the Web Fonts specification (which is expected to be developed by the CSS and/or SVG working groups).


Specification transition estimates and other milestones


Deliverable Feb 2009 Mar 2009 Apr 2009 Sep 2009 Nov 2009 Jan 2010 Feb 2010 Mar 2010
Requirements WD LC Note
Authoring guidelines WD LC Note
Specification WD LC CR PR REC
Test suite Test

The group will document significant changes from this initial schedule on the group home page.


W3C Groups

The SVG and CSS groups are cooperating on the CSS Fonts specification. The SVG and CSS groups are cooperating on the CSS Fonts specification, which includes the definition of the @font-face mechanism used for linking to web fonts.
The XSL WG has published requirements for XSL 2.0 which include features supporting the use of Web fonts.
I18N Core WG
The Internationalization Core WG will review the proposed specification, and assist where possible with international concerns. They may also contribute tests.

External groups

This ISO working group maintains and develops OpenType.
This ISO working group is also interested in font information interchange formats, and is looking into an Open Font format.
The font design community
As mentioned under “Success Criteria.”


Effective participation to the Working Group is expected to consume 0.2 fte (one work day per week) for each participant; 0.4 fte (two days per week) for editors.

The working group may apply the Good Standing requirements of the W3C Process.


This group primarily conducts its work on the public mailing list <www-font@w3.org> and may also use the member-only mailing list <w3c-fonts-wg@w3.org>.

Information about the group (deliverables, participants, face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, etc.) is available from the Working Group home page.

The group holds weekly, one-hour teleconferences and two face-to-face meetings. The group may meet more or less frequently as needed.

Decision policy

As explained in the Process Document (section 3.3), this group will seek to make decisions by consensus. When the Chair puts a question and observes dissent, after due consideration of different opinions, the Chair should record a decision (possibly after a formal vote) and any objections, and move on.

This charter is written in accordance with section 3.4, Votes of the W3C Process Document and includes no voting procedures beyond what the Process Document requires.

Patent policy

This Working Group operates under the W3C Patent Policy (5 February 2004 version). To promote the widest adoption of Web standards, W3C seeks to issue Recommendations that can be implemented, according to this policy, on a Royalty-Free basis.

For more information about disclosure obligations for this group, please see the W3C Patent Policy Implementation.

About this charter

This charter for the Working Group has been created according to section 6.2 of the Process Document. In the event of a conflict between this document or the provisions of any charter and the W3C Process, the W3C Process takes precedence.

Philippe Le Hégaret, from many contributions

$Date: 2009/06/28 13:41:02 $