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How do I embed Google Web Fonts into an SVG?

Graphic Design Asked by Jules on August 29, 2020

I’m writing an article on my site about the advantages of new web technologies, among others HTML5, CSS3 and SVGs, one of the advantages of the latter being the ability to select text in what is otherwise effectively an image.

I’m new to SVGs, and just made my first decent graphic in Illustrator. I’ve embedded it into a page with the GWF script for the Ubuntu font in the tag. As it turns out, the Ubuntu font displays correctly in regular text, but for this trick to work in the SVG, the Google script has to be embedded in the SVG itself. How can I do this?

9 Answers

You embed fonts in CSS by using base64 encoding. You can apply styles in SVG documents similar to CSS by using a <style /> element. So if you have a WOFF font, you'd embed it like this:

<style>
@font-face {
    font-family: "Sample font";
    src: url("data:application/font-woff;charset=utf-8;base64,...");
}
</style>

Where ... is the base64 encoded font data.

You can find examples of this by looking at Typekit's stylesheets. I'm not sure if the mime type of font/woff is correct, as I've also seen people claim that it should be application/font-woff. Though font/woff, font/truetype, font/opentype, etc. seem to be more popular.

Alternatively, you could actually take the SVG version of the web font and embed the SVG font's description markup inside of your document (though browser support is still very limited as Luke notes in the comments).

However, you should also be able to link to an external font according to the SVG specification. That would seem to be the best solution if you're gonna have multiple SVG documents referencing that font.

Correct answer by Lèse majesté on August 29, 2020

I was able to fix the problem by, instead of using the SVG as a source of an image in the HTML file, I inserted the SVG inline in the HTML itself.

Ex: (Did not work)

<img src="/img/my_svg.svg">

I needed to put the actual SVG inside of the HMTL file itself. Then, Safari was able to read the fonts that I had previously imported.

Ex: (Works)

<svg class="coupon" height="220.254" viewBox="0 0 434.842 220.254" width="434.842" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink">
    <linearGradient id="a" gradientUnits="objectBoundingBox" x1=".079" x2=".933" y1=".088" y2=".879">
        <stop offset="0" stop-color="#00b2dc"/>
        <stop offset="1" stop-color="#00dac4"/>
    </linearGradient>
    <path d="m281.406 302.474a6.213 6.213 0 0 1 -6.167-6.914l.726-6.415a15.2 15.2 0 0 0 .1-1.7 14.846 14.846 0 0 0 -14.817-14.845c-.461 0-.915.026-1.364.066l-6.275.565a6.21 6.21 0 0 1 -6.763-6.189v-149.4a6.209 6.209 0 0 1 6.762-6.189l6.275.563c.451.04.906.068 1.366.068a14.846 14.846 0 0 0 14.819-14.839 15.225 15.225 0 0 0 -.1-1.7l-.726-6.415a6.212 6.212 0 0 1 6.167-6.912h365.712a6.211 6.211 0 0 1 6.167 6.912l-.724 6.415a15.316 15.316 0 0 0 -.1 1.7 14.844 14.844 0 0 0 14.818 14.839c.461 0 .917-.028 1.366-.068l6.277-.563a6.209 6.209 0 0 1 6.761 6.189v149.4a6.211 6.211 0 0 1 -6.763 6.189l-6.277-.565c-.449-.04-.9-.066-1.364-.066a14.844 14.844 0 0 0 -14.818 14.837 15.316 15.316 0 0 0 .1 1.7l.724 6.415a6.212 6.212 0 0 1 -6.167 6.914z" fill="#fff" transform="translate(-246.845 -82.22)"/>
    <path d="m661.315 118.088a26.8 26.8 0 0 1 -26.785-26.82 27.426 27.426 0 0 1 .176-3.048h-352.816a27.448 27.448 0 0 1 .176 3.048 26.8 26.8 0 0 1 -26.785 26.821c-.822 0-1.634-.042-2.435-.114v136.777c.8-.074 1.614-.116 2.435-.116a26.8 26.8 0 0 1 26.785 26.823 27.477 27.477 0 0 1 -.176 3.048h352.816a27.455 27.455 0 0 1 -.176-3.048 26.8 26.8 0 0 1 26.785-26.823c.822 0 1.634.042 2.435.116v-136.777c-.802.072-1.614.113-2.435.113z" fill="url(#a)" transform="translate(-240.878 -76.237)"/>
    <g fill="#fff">
        <path d="m621.645 274.026h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.975v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.968zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-17.291-.859a33.59 33.59 0 0 0 -2.734-9.267l1.811-.835a35.522 35.522 0 0 1 2.888 9.824zm341.224-7.679-1.851-.741a35.833 35.833 0 0 1 5.1-8.866l1.568 1.232a33.823 33.823 0 0 0 -4.823 8.375zm-349.198-9.708a34.131 34.131 0 0 0 -7.31-6.315l1.075-1.682a36.025 36.025 0 0 1 7.739 6.687zm360.994-5.343-1.159-1.628a35.748 35.748 0 0 1 9.083-4.7l.652 1.891a33.621 33.621 0 0 0 -8.577 4.437zm-377.09-4.959a33.483 33.483 0 0 0 -3.979-.891l-.84-.138v-6.629h1.994v4.939c1.137.21 2.27.479 3.377.8zm392.125-5.88h-1.995v-9.986h1.995zm-394.949-11.763h-1.994v-9.986h1.994zm394.949-8.209h-1.995v-9.986h1.995zm-394.949-11.764h-1.994v-9.986h1.994zm394.949-8.209h-1.995v-9.986h1.995zm-394.949-11.763h-1.994v-9.99h1.994zm394.949-8.209h-1.995v-9.981h1.995zm-394.949-11.763h-1.994v-9.986h1.994zm394.949-8.209h-1.995v-9.986h1.995zm-394.949-11.763h-1.994v-9.986h1.994zm394.949-8.209h-1.995v-9.986h1.995zm-394.949-11.763h-1.994v-6.679l.84-.134a33.762 33.762 0 0 0 3.935-.881l.551 1.919c-1.1.316-2.214.577-3.331.787zm391.395-5.313a35.649 35.649 0 0 1 -9.522-3.731l.985-1.736a33.641 33.641 0 0 0 8.987 3.519zm-378.745-4.673-1.073-1.686a33.95 33.95 0 0 0 7.317-6.302l1.5 1.314a36.072 36.072 0 0 1 -7.745 6.673zm361.147-5.331a35.941 35.941 0 0 1 -5.99-8.292l1.765-.929a33.98 33.98 0 0 0 5.659 7.833zm-347.837-9.934-1.811-.837a33.663 33.663 0 0 0 2.737-9.265l1.975.286a35.635 35.635 0 0 1 -2.901 9.816zm338.45-8.013c-.064-.33-.126-.659-.182-.993h-7.3v-2h9.017l.122.857c.082.587.181 1.166.3 1.742zm-17.45-.993h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.963zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.975v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.98v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.968zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973zm-19.945 0h-9.973v-2h9.973z" transform="translate(-237.397 -72.746)"/>
        <text font-family="Poppins-Medium, Poppins" font-size="28" font-weight="500" letter-spacing=".05em" transform="translate(78 70.476)">
            <tspan x="0" y="0">This is</tspan>
        </text>
        <text font-family="Poppins-Bold, Poppins" font-size="112" font-weight="700" transform="translate(79 172.476)">
            <tspan x="0" y="0">a test</tspan>
        </text>
    </g>
</svg>

Note that in this case, you MUST import your fonts!

<link href="https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Poppins:[email protected];500;600;700&display=swap" rel="stylesheet">

Hope this helps someone out there!

Good luck ?

Answered by AlmostPitt on August 29, 2020

Ran into the same issue and made a tool similar to nano and svg-buddy. Compared to nano it's a free tool. And compared to svg-buddy it's written in NodeJS instead of Java, so it's easy to install (or contribute too!) for anyone who already has Node on their computer.

The tool is optimized for Google Fonts. It infers which letters are used by scanning the SVG for font definitions. The letters are then passed to Google Fonts so the most optimized font files can be returned. This optimization results in a dramatically smaller file size.

https://github.com/coolov/svgum

Answered by Olov Sundström on August 29, 2020

Next to Nano you can also check out svg-buddy. That's a command line tool that automatically detects the used fonts in your SVG, downloads them from Google Fonts and embeds the base64-encoded fonts in the defs tag of the SVG. This ensures that the SVG is displayed the same way on all devices independent of the installed fonts on the user's system. Moreover, svg-buddy can also apply some basic optimization to reduce the file size. It's totally free and works offline.

Disclaimer: I'm the author of this open-source tool. I hope that it's useful for others.

Answered by phauer on August 29, 2020

UPDATE to my answer. I now prefer a different answer on this page, which is to use Nano: https://graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/a/121950/45239

Assuming you've downloaded and installed a web font on your system and have created an SVG (maybe using a lot of the same steps as I describe below but not choosing "Font: Convert To Outlines"), you can upload the SVG to Nano and see the "Embed font: Yes" option, and click Download.

My previous answer:

If you're willing to sacrifice having selectable text and SEO:

  1. Download the web font.
  2. Install it locally.
  3. Open Adobe Illustrator
  4. Type your text.
  5. File > Export > Export As…
  6. Choose ".SVG"
  7. Choose these settings:

    • Styling: Inline Style
    • Font: Convert To Outlines
    • Images: Preserve
    • Object IDs: Layer Names
    • Decimal: 2
    • (enabled) Minify
    • (enabled) Responsive
  8. Optionally upload the resulting svg to https://vecta.io/nano (It was able to reduce my file size by 8.2%)

Answered by Ryan on August 29, 2020

You can embed Google Web Fonts into your SVG directly using Nano. It automatically scans your SVG and selectively embed only the fonts required, ensuring that your Ubuntu fonts look the same on all modern browsers. In my case, I needed Roboto to be embedded in my SVG:

enter image description here

Disclaimer: I'm with the team behind Nano, and we too, have faced the same problem previously hence decided to scratch our own itch by building Nano. Hope this is helpful!

Edit: Here's a quick explanation on what happens behind the scene:

To embed fonts in SVG, you first have to know what font families are used. Then you need to find these font files and download them. Once downloaded, you have to convert regular, bold, italics and bold italics to base 64 encoding. If you're doing it manually, it is a huge amount of work, over a large number of files, to know which file uses bold and which ones does not. Then you have to copy all 4 base 64 encoded strings into your SVG.

That's why we build Nano and make sure it scans SVG automatically and insert only the fonts being used. For example, if bold is not used or if no text exist, then no fonts will be embedded. All you need to do is drag and drop your SVG into Nano and it works like a charm! You can learn more here: https://vecta.io/blog/making-svg-easier-to-use

Answered by Qin on August 29, 2020

Add the following after <desc> tag

<defs>
<style type="text/css">@import url('http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Lobster|Fontdiner+Swanky|Crafty+Girls|Pacifico|Satisfy|Gloria+Hallelujah|Bangers|Audiowide|Sacramento');</style>
</defs>

Answered by muTheTechie on August 29, 2020

A <defs> section like

<defs>
  <style type="text/css">@import url(http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Indie+Flower);</style>
</defs>

works.

Answered by leighman on August 29, 2020

This may be over simplifying, but have you considered downloading the font as a zip file from google and then letting Illustrator convert it as needed into your SVG file output?

This is only theoretical as I haven't tried this yet, but in theory would seem to work.

Answered by gabearnold on August 29, 2020

Add your own answers!

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