How To Choose A Typeface Like A Pro: Resource List

How To Choose A Typeface Like A Pro

“Buying a new typeface is not as weighty a decision as it used to be. But good fonts come at a price and deciding what to buy hasn’t become easier” - Jan Middendorp from Shaping Text

I used to be really frustrated with the process of shopping for fonts. I struggled so much to find a typeface that would do all the things I wanted that I eventually gave up and made my own (Tofino!). I thought what I was looking for just didn’t exist, but it turns out that I just couldn’t find it. After going through the experience of designing my own typeface and connecting with other type designers I’ve learned more about the industry and found better ways of finding type.

In my talk I speak about how finding the right foundries is a great place to start when looking for a new typeface. Sometimes you may find a typeface you like first, look up who made it! That will lead you to foundries and a lot more typefaces that might work for you, here’s a list of places to get you started:

Finding Foundries

Typographica
Reviews on typefaces and books with occasional commentary. Great articles written by awesome experts.

Fonts In Use
A collection of fonts being used in things like publications and websites. Great for finding fonts and font pairings in a visual way.

Typewolf
Another collection of fonts in use, more web focused.

Font Review Journal
Very detailed reviews of beautiful and interesting typefaces. Published weekly by Bethany Heck

Fresh Fonts
A weekly newsletter delivering the freshest new fonts that dropped that week. Focusing on free and open source fonts and indie type foundries.

Foundry Archive
A big ol’ list of all the type foundries in the world, all 362 of them at the time of this writing.


Open Source And Low Price Fonts

Sometimes your project might have budgetary constraints that you can’t get around. Many free fonts are poorly drawn, poorly spaced, and are missing characters or features that you may need. If you need something in the lower price range, I recommend checking these out first:

Lost Type
They have a Pay-What-You-Want licence for personal, educational, and non-profit use (on a case-by-case basis). Their commercial licences are on the affordable side of the industry too.\Disclaimer, I released Tofino through Lost Type but I did because I believe that it’s an awesome place to get fonts.*

Google Fonts
Most of us have heard of these guys. All free and open source, pretty good quality but they are used everywhere so if you need something unique, look elsewhere.

The League Of Movable Type
Another open source foundry. Great quality, some fonts are very popular. They also have a great newsletter and podcast called the weekly typographic.

Velvetyne Type Foundry
Open source Type Foundry. Really fun stuff on there, perfect if you are looking for something unique.


Font Licensing

Font licensing is a bit of a hot mess. Everyone has their own licence agreements and many seem to be written for lawyers instead of regular people. I’ve put together more information here.

I did want to share some unique ways of licensing type:

Future Fonts
Type designers can sell work-in-progress fonts. If you buy in early, you get each update for free until you have a fully completed typeface. This is a great way to support type designers and give feedback as they are making the typefaces.

DJR’s Font Of The Month Club
Subscribe for $6/month and get a new font each month, generally one or two styles of something he is working on.

Fontstand
Rent fonts and pay monthly to decrease upfront costs or only licence the font for the duration of the project. Rent-to-own, after 12 months you have the full licence. Also, 1 hr free trials.

Adobe Typekit
Subscribe and get access to the whole catalog (or part of it depending on what tier you choose). Sync fonts to your computer or website.


More Resources

A few other resources I mentioned:

Typofonderie’s Explanation Of Opentype Features
Specific to the fonts that they have, but also a good overview of what you can expect from opentype features.

Victoria Rushton’s List Of Fonts By Women
Fonts by women, because it’s nice to have a list of that kind of thing.


If I have missed any awesome resources, feel free to drop me an email and I’ll see about adding it to the list.