Guanosines with substituents at the 8-position can provide useful fluorescent probes that effectively mimic guanine residues even in highly demanding model systems such as polymorphic G-quadruplexes and duplex DNA. Here, we report the synthesis and photophysical properties of a small family of 8-substituted-2′-deoxyguanosines that have been incorporated into the human telomeric repeat sequence using phosphoramidite chemistry. These include 8-(2-pyridyl)-2′-deoxyguanosine (2PyG), 8-(2-phenylethenyl)-2′-deoxyguanosine (StG) and 8-[2-(pyrid-4-yl)-ethenyl]-2′-deoxyguanosine (4PVG). On DNA folding and stability, 8-substituted guanosines can exhibit context-dependent effects but were better tolerated by G-quadruplex and duplex structures than pyrimidine mismatches. In contrast to previously reported fluorescent guanine analogs, 8-substituted guanosines exhibit similar or even higher quantum yields upon their incorporation into nucleic acids (Φ = 0.02–0.45). We have used these highly emissive probes to quantify energy transfer efficiencies from unmodified DNA nucleobases to 8-substituted guanosines. The resulting DNA-to-probe energy transfer efficiencies (ηt) are highly structure selective, with ηt(duplex) < ηt(single-strand) < ηt(G-quadruplex). These trends were independent of the exact structural features and thermal stabilities of the G-quadruplexes or duplexes containing them. The combination of efficient energy transfer, high probe quantum yield, and high molar extinction coefficient of the DNA provides a highly sensitive and reliable readout of G-quadruplex formation even in highly diluted sample solutions of 0.25 nM.