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⚠️ This project is archived and the repository is no longer maintained.

A Font Garde

Filament Group

A set of reliable (nay, bulletproof) patterns for icon fonts.

To start, you’ll probably want to read the Filament Group Blog Post.

Then, add afontgarde.css and afontgarde.js to your build to concat up into your web site.

Uses Cases:

  1. Critical Icon
  2. Icon as decoration, does not need a fallback but must not take up space (for proper centering/alignment of neighboring content)

Support List

  1. CSS including :before, :after pseudo-elements and @font-face
  2. JS (@font-face loading test)


Decorative Icons (No Fallback Required)


<span class="icon icon-twitter" aria-hidden="true"></span>
Share on Twitter (Sibling Text)

Make sure you use sibling text here for labeling text—don’t nest the text inside of the icon span. We need aria-hidden on the icon to make sure it is not read aloud by screen readers.


.fontloaded .icon:before {
	font-family: icomoon;
.fontloaded .icon-twitter:before {
	content: "\e604";

The fontloaded class is added by the FontFaceOnload script, which checks to make sure the Icomoon font has successfully loaded (just because a browser supports font-face doesn’t mean the request will succeed).

Critical Icons with Fallback Text

If the icon fails, the text must show. Otherwise hide it.


<span class="icon-fallback-text">
	<span class="icon icon-glyph" aria-hidden="true"></span>
	<span class="text">Fallback Text</span>


Reuse the decorative icon CSS above.

Critical Icons with Fallback Icons

If the icon fails, a fallback icon is shown. Otherwise hide the default icon.

HTML for fallback to Unicode Glyph

<span class="icon-fallback-glyph">
	<span class="icon icon-hamburger" aria-hidden="true"></span>
	<span class="text">Menu</span>

CSS for fallback to Unicode Glyph

.icon-fallback-glyph .icon-hamburger:before {
	content: "\2261"; /* Hamburger */
	/* Adjust to match the icon font size */
	font-size: 2em;
	line-height: .5;
/* A-Grade */
.fontloaded .icon-fallback-glyph .icon-hamburger:before {
	content: "\e601";

Choose your fallback glyph character with care. Cross-browser/platform compatibility may vary. Check John Holt Ripley’s compatibility tables.


The JavaScript adds the appropriate classes to make sure that the font has loaded.

AFontGarde( 'icomoon', '\uE600\uE601\uE602\uE605' );

Full options list

AFontGarde( 'icomoon', {
	glyphs: '\uE600\uE601\uE602\uE605',
	success: function() {},
	error: function() {},
	timeout: 10000

The first argument is the name of the font-family. The second argument is a few of the glyphs contained in the new font. We measure these characters to make sure the font has loaded successfully.

Browser Support

These browsers were tested, full browser support is more comprehensive:

  • Chrome 34
  • Firefox 29
  • Safari 7
  • iOS 6, iOS 7 Mobile Safari
  • Opera 12
  • Blackberry OS 7
  • Android 2.3
  • Internet Explorer 8, 9, 10, 11

Fallback Experience

  • Opera Mini
  • Windows Phone 7.5 (Note: The icon-fallback-img method fails here because of a Modernizr false positive—an issue has been filed and resolved)
  • Opera 9
  • Blackberry OS 5
  • Blackberry OS 6 (technically supports SVG @font-face, but it’s horribly buggy. So we isolate the SVG entry to newer WebKit and opt into the fallback experience)
  • Internet Explorer 7 (The icon-fallback-glyph method falls back to text instead of an image due to a lack of :before/:after support. Requires additional Modernizr classes, noted below)


Internet Explorer 7 and below

To add support for Internet Explorer 7 and other browsers that don’t support pseudo-elements (:before, :after) use the Modernizr library to provide the pseudo-elements feature test for the supports-generatedcontent and supports-no-generatedcontent classes.

You can configure Modernizr with the supports- classes prefix (make sure to include the generatedcontent test) or you can change the supports- prefix in a-font-garde. See the “Changing the CSS Prefix” section below for more information.

Changing the supports- CSS Prefix

To use a different CSS Prefix without editing the raw JS and CSS manually, you can optionally clone the repository and change the configuration setting in package.json.

  "config": {
    "cssprefix": "supports-"

Modify with your own CSS prefix and run grunt to generate new afontgarde.css and afontgarde.js files.


A variety of test cases and tools for safe font-icon usage.







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