Filtering and Finding Fonts in Adobe Apps

Is there anything worse than diving into a new design project and getting stuck almost immediately when faced with the task of choosing fonts? Well, I’m sure there are worse things, but this is a problem I commonly run into. Having the vast amount of Typekit fonts at our fingertips is great, but that also means our options are so vast that it’s hard to make a choice at times. Luckily there are some new Creative Cloud features that can help you narrow your focus in the type-selecting department.

When choosing a typeface to grace your project’s type—whether you’re in Photoshop, InDesign, or Illustrator—head over to the Character panel. Pick one you’re familiar with, scan down the list of sample text, or (if you’re in Photoshop or Illustrator) roll over each for a live text preview. Even better, you can filter the choices so as not to overwhelm yourself with the seventy-gajillion installed fonts you own. For quite a while, we’ve had the ability to mark fonts as favorites and separate Typekit from non-Typekit fonts. This is great of course when you’re working with other team members or clients who also have a Creative Cloud subscription that includes Typekit. No worrisome missing font alerts for you. Sadly, this feature is where InDesign gets off the filtering train and lets its siblings—ones designed less for type than photographs and illustrations—continue on to Awesome Type Feature Town.

Filter Fonts by Class

Click the down arrow on the font menu in the Character or Control panel to view filtering options. In the Filter section, choose from one of the eight classes, ranging from serif to monospace to handwritten. These are the same as the classes that Typekit uses to sort fonts. When you choose the class you want to search within, only those fonts are listed in the fonts drop-down menu. Notice, however, that all of your loaded fonts appear, not just those from Typekit.
This is a huge timesaver when you know you want a classy serif font, but those possibly-too-over-the-top scripts keep calling your name. View just the serif options and you can stay focused.

Branch Out From There

Whether you’ve selected a font based on a specific class or not, the filtering party doesn’t have to stop there.

Maybe you’ve hit on a font that you really like, and you wonder what other fonts might look good. That’s where the Find Similar button comes in handy. Clicking this wavy little gem will show you other fonts that share a vibe with the currently-selected one. Even if you started your search within a given class, you can then go back and choose all classes to expand your hunt for similar fonts.
It’s not an exact science and the results are often questionable and occasionally laughable. But it’s still a pretty nifty and time-saving trick to have at your disposal.

Finding Fonts in an Image with Match Font

Well, those features are pretty cool if you’re working in Photoshop or Illustrator and you’re in control of picking the fonts for your designs. Sometimes, however, we are tasked with tapping into our Sherlockian roots and sussing out what fonts exist in an image and then matching said fonts. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I don’t own every font known to man, nor would I want to rummage through a collection of that size if I did.

A feature that quietly slipped into Photoshop last year is Match Font. As the name plainly suggests, the feature finds fonts that match—and that definition is a moving target—selected type in a raster image. It’s like they crammed the entire What the Font community into the app. While the results aren’t always perfect, they do a great job in steering you in the right direction.

To use the feature, first make sure you don’t have your text cursor actively sitting in text and find a clear single line of text to sample. Head up to the Type menu and choose Match Font. The dialog box shows how to select text to sample by adjusting a crop box. Once you’ve indicated the search area, you’ll see a list of installed fonts that Photoshop has deemed match-worthy. The results are most accurate with Typekit fonts, but Match Font will look at and make suggestions from all of your installed fonts. In addition, you can click the box labeled, “Show fonts available to sync from Typekit” to expand your options. If you find a better match in the list of Typekit fonts you don’t have installed, you can sync immediately from this dialog box. Click on the cloud icon next to the desired font and the font gets synced and moves up to the list of installed fonts.
Once you’ve seen what Match Font has to offer, you’ll want to remember which ones looked best to you. Of course, if there’s just one that stands out, you can simply highlight it and click OK. But if there are several that you’d like to try out, you can favorite them by clicking the star next to the name. Then the next time you’re viewing the Character panel, simply filter by favorites. The font you have highlighted in the dialog box when you click OK is automatically selected next time you use the Type tool.
But wait! There’s more! Instead of merely using Match Font to look at—or even favorite—fonts that might be a good match, you can also have the fonts apply themselves to text you’ve already created. To do that, before even thinking about using Match Font, create your text, then select that text layer in the Layers panel. Now use Match Font as described above, and when you select one of the installed font suggestions, the text on that layer changes to the chosen font. It won’t display any not-yet-synced fonts, so you’ll have to sync them up first. When you click OK, not only does the selected font become the active one, but it also changes the text on your currently-selected text layer. Pretty cool!

Posted on: January 30, 2017

Erica Gamet

Erica Gamet has been involved in the graphics industry for an unbelievable 30 years! She is a speaker, writer, and trainer, focusing on Adobe InDesign and Illustrator, Apple Keynote and iBooks Author, and other print- and production-related topics. She is a regular presence at CreativePro Week’s PePcon and InDesign Conferences, and has spoken at ebookcraft in Canada and Making Design in Norway. You can find Erica’s online tutorials at CreativeLive and through her YouTube channel. When she isn’t at her computer, she can be found exploring her new homebase of Seattle and the greater Pacific Northwest.

13 Comments on Filtering and Finding Fonts in Adobe Apps

  1. This is a fantastic article! I often face this problem as an Amateur, this will help me a lot. I am gonna bookmark this article!

  2. it would be helpful to know which version your examples are from.
    these features do not show in CS6.

    • You are correct, they are not there in CS6. I point out in the opening couple of paragraphs that the features are new, and new to Creative Cloud at that.

      • Sweet, thanks for the heads-up! That would be useful.
        Says “new” for CC, but it would be helpful to mention what version this first appears in.

        Many of us are in corporate environments or rely on plugins so we can’t upgrade quickly — I for instance am “stuck” with CC2014 for production and testing CC2015.2 and don’t see these features so I guess it is only CC2017?

        Or is it because I don’t have Typekit or cloud access?

  3. I have the latest version of InDesign, but I don’t have the features in the control panel to filter fonts, or find similar. Sounds great though! I could really use that.

    • Sorry if the article wasn’t clear enough, but I mention in the 2nd paragraph that most of these features are NOT in InDesign but only in Photoshop and Illustrator. And Match Font is only in Photoshop. Sorry for any confusion.

  4. I’m with you Keith. I have the lastest version of InDesign, but I also don’t have the features in my control panel to filter fonts. It would save SO much time with my projects if I had this. Is this something I need to turn on somewhere in the program?

    It’s a coincidence I came across this post when I did, I was thinking to other day how useful a font organizer would be!

    • Please see my reply to Keith above. Also, I had a wrap-up paragraph that apparently didn’t make the final edit of this story that re-iterated the fact that InDesign is sorely lacking in these type features. Which doesn’t make much sense since it’s more type-focused than Illustrator or Photoshop. Again, sorry for any confusion.

  5. I set up my “favorites” in Illustrator. How do I sync that list in InDesign and Photoshop so I don’t have to maintain it separately in 3 places?

  6. Great Stuff!
    On my InDesig, a drop-down menu for( i.e. All categories, San Serif, Script,) fonts does not show up next to the word “Filter”—nor the simular fonts link. I follow you instruction but no luck. Any tricks to make the drop-down window appear ? I’ve talked directly with Adobe and the rep said it only works in Illustrator…ya right! Your help would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks Bryce

    • As noted in an eariler comment, “…I mention in the 2nd paragraph that most of these features are NOT in InDesign but only in Photoshop and Illustrator. And Match Font is only in Photoshop. Sorry for any confusion.”

      Again, sorry if it caused any confusion, but that filtering isn’t available in ID.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.