Use Google Font in R Markdown web page


Setting a different font is a minor tweak to an R Markdown file that might help it fit better with a corporate or company look. Google Fonts is an industry-accepted method to reference fonts on web pages and can be used with R Markdown rendered by Shiny. There’s no need to download anything while developing the R Markdown file in RStudio, or viewing it in a web browser from a Shiny server.

I’ve recently used this technique to integrate the “Atkinson Hyperlegible” font, a font with “…greater legibility and readability for low vision readers…” from Since Shiny themes already specify a font, the steps below show how to override that with the Google Font, demo’d with the spacelab Shiny theme.

The full code can be found on my GitHub R Markdown snippets repo at

This is the HTML code to paste into the R Markdown file, for example <link href="" rel="stylesheet">.

  • go to Google Fonts
  • click on a font (I clicked on Lobster)
  • go to the “Type tester” tab in the toolbar and select styles (“Lobster” has only regular, but other fonts may have additional “bold”, “italic”, or “bold italic” styles)
  • copy just the link from the panel at right

You can get further detail on referencing Google Fonts at

Copy-paste to the start of the R Markdown file, after the YAML front matter. As the link is HTML code, you won’t see anything on the page when you click “Run Document”.

Override the original Shiny theme font, everywhere it’s mentioned, with new font name in CSS

Now the font is referenced, it’s time to use it. To do so, I suggest adding the new font name before any existing font names in CSS, so there’s a fallback. For instance, in the spacelab theme, “Open Sans” is the first font in the font stack. The new font stack will be “Lobster”, then a comma, then “Open Sans”, then the rest of the existing fonts.


font-family: "Open Sans", "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;


font-family: Lobster, "Open Sans", "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;

You’ll need to do this everywhere a font is referenced in the theme (I did a search on the theme CSS file for “font”). The final custom CSS code in the R Markdown file, specific to the spacelab theme, is:

```{css, echo = FALSE}
/* override font family with new font family
   need to override all places "spacelab" theme explicitly sets fonts */
body {
  /* new font "Lobster", add to start of "spacelab" stack
     Google Fonts link needs to be referenced elsewhere */
  font-family: Lobster, "Open Sans", "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;
h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6, .h1, .h2, .h3, .h4, .h5, .h6 {
  font-family: Lobster, "Open Sans", "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;
.tooltip, .popover {
  font-family: Lobster, "Open Sans", "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;

Bonus step: set Highcharter charts to use the Google Font

Normal text and DT DataTables pick up the Google Font without special code. Highcharter charts require two additional steps:

Before rendering Highcharts, create a new theme

# create new Highchart theme with "Lobster" Google Font as per
# as at Highcharter 0.9.4 (Sep 2022), this looks to create own Google Fonts link in
# older style e.g.
# so, new fonts may not be available using this method
new_font_theme <- highcharter::hc_theme(
  chart = list(
    style = list(
      # set just new font name
      fontFamily = "Lobster"

Explicitly set the theme when rendering the Highchart

highcharter::highchart() %>%
  # set theme as per
  highcharter::hc_add_theme(new_font_theme) %>%

If you have more than one Highchart on the page, each will need the theme explicitly set.

Check out the finished code at A more complete solution to changing fonts in R Markdown might be to make your own theme or use theme-specific libraries like thematic at