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Q. What do you think of using free fonts for professional design jobs?
A. You get what you pay for. That said, there are some very good free fonts if you sort the wheat for the chaff.
Free fonts fall into three categories:
1. Fonts from type-design hobbyists
2. Pirated fonts
3. Fonts released by foundries or individual pro type designers
Hobbyist type designers, who create the first category, often don’t have the same training or experience as professional type designers. Therefore, free fonts from hobbyists may lack consistent letterforms and proper spacing and kerning. Even if you like the designs, use these faces at your own risk.
The second category consists of fonts have been stolen from other type designers and/or foundries. In some cases, the digital data is rearranged a bit, the design of a few characters changed ever so slightly, and the typeface name either altered slightly to sound like the original (such as Garabonde instead of Garamond) or totally changed. Because this kind of pirating denies the original designer the royalties they deserve, it is an extremely unethical practice. Other pirated fonts are stolen and reoffered for sale with no change to the font. No only is this practice unethical, it’s outright illegal.
Three’s a charm, and so it is with the third category of free fonts. It most often consists of legitimate, high-quality fonts from major foundries, usually offered when you open an account or sign up (no purchase required) with that foundry. Free fonts are also occasionally given as a bonus when you make a purchase.
You can browse for high-quality free fonts on fonts.com. The foundry also offers a free font of the month with every purchase.
Note that a foundry sometimes offers the Type 1 or TrueType format of a font for free but charges for the OpenType version. Also, be aware that some foundries will offer one or two weights of a larger family for free as a teaser, hoping you’ll want to purchase other weights. (Nothing wrong with that, though.)
myfonts.com has a boatload of well-designed free fonts. Scroll down past the first few with ‘free’ in their name to get to the truly free fonts.
FontShop also offers the occasional free font.
Love type? Want to know more? Ilene Strizver conducts her acclaimed Gourmet Typography workshops internationally. For more information on attending one or bringing it to your company, organization, or school, go to her site, call The Type Studio at 203-227-5929, or email Ilene at email@example.com. Sign up for her e-newsletter at www.thetypestudio.com. You can also follow Ilene on Facebook and Twitter.Tags