Finding free, low-cost fonts online
This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on December 16, 2005
Last week, we looked at a quick history of digital typefaces and fonts and promised lots of links to free and low-cost TrueType fonts this week.
With fonts in all the main formats TrueType, PostScript and OpenType and very usable search and browsing tools, Fonts.com has typefaces for just about any possible use. Prices range from $30 on up meaning the site is geared for most font users, too.
The site is well laid out so that you can either search or browse for fonts. Browsing is easy as they've organized the fonts into different families serif, sans serif, decorative, engraved, etc. When you see fonts listed, you not only see a sample of the font displayed, but you see the font used in an artistic setting as it might be used in the real world. Gives you a better feeling for how the font would really be used. Many of the fonts are available in multiple formats TrueType for Mac or Windows, PostScript for Mac or Windows, and OpenType.
They also have a "What the Font" tool where you can upload a scanned image of a typeface you've found elsewhere, and they'll find the closest matches to it. (This seems like it would be pretty darn useful for designers trying to keep clients happy "I want my flyer/ad/brochure to look just like this.")
With 45,000 fonts, you figure there have to be quite a few that are virtually indistinguishable from one another, but browsing through the "Starlets" list (the current 50 best-selling fonts), every one looked distinctive and of high quality design. There may well be some dogs in this collection, but you also are likely to find even more winners.
As a font retailer, MyFonts also sells CD-ROM collections from design houses as respected and well-known as Linotype and Bitstream, as well as many smaller indie outfits.
The Font Pool
However, The Font Pool tends to charge a bit more for a typeface $40 seemed about the average. Still, if you need a typeface for a project, $40 may seem a small price to keep a client happy.
Divide by Zero
The fonts are all quirky, artistic sorts with a fun, whimsical sort of feel to them. Nothing you might use for a serious environment, but if you need a hand-written script-style font or something off the wall, this is worth a visit.
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