Fonts: the Good, the Bad and the Legal

Fonts are everywhere — they can reflect your personality, mood and attitude. Whether viewed on your phone, film, advertising or in books, fonts communicate emotion and brand identity. Careful consideration is taken when arranging typography in a way that is legible and appealing. Logos wouldn’t be complete without the company’s name standing tall, and finding the perfect typeface and making it original is key.

“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” is a pangram, or a sentence containing every letter of the alphabet. Originally it was used to test typewriters and telegraph machines. The phrase has become widely adopted and used in testing the design of digital fonts.

We’ve collected some FAQs for help in the use and misuse of fonts.

Why buy a font when I can download a free one?

If you do your research, you can find well-designed free fonts. However, be cautious of common issues with free fonts. Often, their kerning (spacing between characters) is inconsistent and the edges can be sloppy (especially when viewing at a large size). They are not always free for designers working commercially, and since anyone can upload free fonts it can mean they are not legal to use (i.e. stolen copies of custom fonts like Disney). Please use caution when choosing free fonts.

What if I can’t find a font I like?

Font design isn’t easy, but there are a number of software options available if you do choose to create your own font. They can range from importing and modifying an existing font to creating one from scratch. There are also options for turning your handwriting into a font. To keep on top of popular new fonts, sign up for the MyFonts newsletter.

What font is it?

If you’ve ever found a font you really like but don’t know what it is, go to MyFonts' WhatTheFont. Simply upload an image of the font and it will generate the closest match.

Why do designers hate Comic Sans?

Nearly everyone using a computer is familiar with Comic Sans and has an opinion about it. It has become one of the most popular and most scorned typefaces of our time, which has even led to the 'Ban Comic Sans' movement. It was created in 1994 to be used in speech bubbles for a children’s software package called Microsoft Bob. The Microsoft designer created Comic Sans after the shock of seeing Times New Roman used so inappropriately in speech bubbles, but it was never intended to be used as an actual typeface. Check out more fonts that designers Love to Hate.

What’s all this licensing stuff about?

Each font purchased comes with a standard end-user license that is intended for up to five end users. The terms of the license include the usage (if it can be used in a logo, App, website, print, products for resale, large volume commercial use, etc.). It’s important to note that if a designer’s client would like to use the font to design their own pieces, they would also need to purchase a set of fonts for their own use.

How do I communicate with a graphic designer and speak their language?

Here are some interesting facts to impress any designer:

  • Did you know serifs are the small lines tailing from the edges of letters and sans serif are fonts without the tails?
  • Helvetica is the most widely used font in print — in Latin it translates to Swiss.
  • Helvetica is the typeface, and variations of it like Helvetica Bold and Helvetica Light are fonts.
  • Fonts have a gender — heavy, bold & jagged are male, while light, curly or whimsical are female.
  • The font Georgia got its name from a tabloid article called ‘Alien Heads Found in Georgia’.
  • If a font is less than four pixels, it is basically unreadable. 

Not sure what font is perfect for you? Contact the typography enthusiasts at orange door.

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