When I first got started as a professional designer, the most stressful part of the job was the sheer number of choices that needed to be made on each and every project. Working primarily on new brand identities, it’s common for me to still spend lots of time weighing the pros and cons of two intensely similar Pantone swatches before finally deciding on one. When it comes to fonts and typefaces, these choices can be detrimental in properly communicating the mood and feeling of a brand, and need to be chosen well.
To avoid scouring all of the Internet each and every time I work on a new brand, I’ve compiled a short list of my favorite resources. To be honest, it’s rare that I download a new font or typeface these days, and probably only do so once every month or so; and that’s usually for a specific client request or mood that I can’t quite hit with my existing library.
When it comes to fonts and typefaces, I encourage that quality always trumps quality. Because I have created a client niche among entrepreneurs and nonprofits, there are about 25 - 35 typefaces that I use within about 90% of all projects. While something new and unique is necessary from time to time, I recommend finding what works and works well for the types of projects you create, customize when necessary, and use them well.
Have you gotten this far and are wondering what in the world the difference is between a font and typeface? A typeface is a system that contains many variations that are called fonts; kind of like how you learned in geometry that a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square. For example, Proxima Nova is a typeface. Proxima Nova Light is a font within that typeface.
Many designers probably use Typekit the most because it is included in their Creative Cloud subscriptions, and it’s definitely not to be overlooked. Typekit partners with a variety of foundries to provide a large variety of fonts and typefaces for download. I love Typekit because it includes typefaces that can be rather pricey to purchase outright, but can be downloaded for free with a CC subscription. There’s unfortunately a cap on the number of fonts that can be synced on a CC subscription (you can also sync more for an additional fee), but it’s nice to have an opportunity to clear out those fonts you’re no longer using.
Font Squirrel is a pretty magical website that features mostly free fonts, all of which are licensed for commercial work. This means you can use any fonts from this website for branding projects as well as products or packaging that might be printed en masse. The website isn’t incredibly user friendly, but is worth the bit of effort it takes to learn to navigate it. I’ve found some pretty incredible free fonts on this site (a few personal favorites) that I now use on a regular basis.
The majority of what you’ll find on Creative Market is not free, but don’t let that dissuade you. It’s a great place to support small business owners and find super unique fonts and typefaces, as well as other graphic design resources (such as illustrations, mockups, Photoshop brushes, and more). It’s a great place to head to if you’re especially looking for a unique handwritten font or typeface.
So, what do you think? What are some of your favorite resources?