Fonts are a defining characteristic of the design of any site. That includes WordPress themes, where it’s common for theme developers to integrate a service like Google Fonts into the WordPress Customizer settings for a “classic” PHP-based theme. That hasn’t quite been the case for WordPress block themes. While integrating Google Fonts into classic themes is well-documented, there’s nothing currently available for block themes in the WordPress Theme Handbook. That’s what we’re going to look at in this article. Block themes can indeed use Google Fonts, but the process for registering them is way different than what you might have done before in classic themes.
What we already know
As I said, there’s little for us to go on as far as getting started. The Twenty Twenty-Two theme is the first block-based default WordPress theme, and it demonstrates how we can use downloaded font files as assets in the theme. But it’s pretty unwieldy because it involves a couple of steps: (1) register the files in the
functions.php file and (2) define the bundled fonts in the
theme.json file. Since Twenty Twenty-Two was released, though, the process has gotten simpler. Bundled fonts can now be defined without registering them, as shown in the Twenty Twenty-Three theme. However, the process still requires us to manually download font files and bundle them into the themes. That’s a hindrance that sort of defeats the purpose of simple, drop-in, hosted fonts that are served on a speedy CDN.
If you didn’t already know, the Gutenberg project is an experimental plugin where features being developed for the WordPress Block and Site Editor are available for early use and testing. In a recent Theme Shaper article, Gutenberg project lead architect Matias Ventura discusses how Google Fonts — or any other downloaded fonts, for that matter — can be added to block themes using the Create Block Theme plugin. This short video at Learn WordPress provides a good overview of the Create Block Theme plugin and how it works. But the bottom line is that it does what it says on the tin: it creates block themes. But it does it by providing controls in the WordPress UI that allow you to create an entire theme, child theme, or a theme style variation without writing any code or ever having to touch template files.
I’ve given it a try! And since Create Block Theme is authored and maintained by the WordPress.org team, I’d say it’s the best direction we have for integrating Google Fonts into a theme. That said, it’s definitely worth noting that the plugin is in active development. That means things could change pretty quickly.
Before I get to how it all works, let’s first briefly refresh ourselves with the “traditional” process for adding Google Fonts to classic WordPress themes.