Typography Essentials – Part 2

In my last article, I went over a lot of basics that we all tend to forget when we get to working out in the real world. But sometimes the real world leads us right back to the basic information we used as first year students.

I know, I’ve had a couple this week. Am I the only one hearing “I just want letters, no graphics” from some of my clients? And it isn’t because of the cost. My custom logos cost the same whether they have graphics or not. Some want color, some don’t but many of the small businesses in my area are voicing a growing consensus to keep it simple.

What those small businesses don’t realize is the number of fonts available to perform the simple concept they want to send out. As an educated graphic designer, I do. So, how can the correct font be found? Go dumpster diving of course!

Font Finding Mission

No, I don’t mean dumpster diving in the true sense of the word, even though it can uncover lots of hidden treasures. For us it is more of a font finding mission. The internet has about a zillion or so places to get free font downloads. The thing to remember is that for every good site you find, you will find at least ten that could go in the trash.

The key is in the eyes of the beholder. It took four hours of dumpster diving this morning to find the absolute perfect font for a friend’s name. He owns a consulting firm and uses his name as his logo, or wanted to. He had a specific idea as to how he wanted it to look and no idea how to get it. So guess who he called?

Because he had some pretty specific ideas about how he wanted it to look, I adopted my hairdressers attitude. Can you show me a picture of something similar you liked? Then, tell me why you liked it. The visual will help you have something to compare to and the answer to the question will tell you how far away from that ideal you can get. This establishes patterns that we can identify in our search for the perfect letters.

Where To Find It?

Now that you know what you are looking for, where do you go to find it? A Google search of Free Fonts will turn up sites by the thousands. The problem I found was that many were no longer available or the websites had been dropped. And there were a lot more that were nothing more than walking advertisements for fonts and software to purchase.

Here are a few I found were pretty good to get you started, and as of this writing, most of these sites offer both free and paid fonts. Just browse around and I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for. If not you can of course purchase the fonts you need or want.

Here is a reminder for PC users. If you are like me, you may choose to create a font suitcase to keep track of all the great downloads I find. The one thing to remember is how to install fonts on your computer:

  1. If your downloaded file is a ZIP file, extract by Right clicking and click on Extract all.
  2. Open the Suitcase file you have downloaded your new fonts to
  3. Go to Control Panel
  4. Click on Appearance and Themes
  5. In the Task bar under See Also click Fonts
  6. Click on the fonts you want to download in the Suitcase file
  7. Drag to the Fonts screen
  8. This will automatically download your new fonts and you will be able to use them right away.

For the Mac users running OSX, Font Book is pre-installed. You can learn more about it the Mac 101: Font Book page on Apple’s website.

Add your favorite font websites! Let me know where the absolute best free font downloads can be found! I am always looking for the best dumpster dives so I can enjoy the best treasures. Happy hunting! :)

Lois Knight


About the author: Lois Knight has been a freelance writer and graphic designer for the last two years. She designs predominantly for small start up companies and non profits in need of design services that could not afford them otherwise.

She has a background as an entrepreneur for over twenty years and has dedicated herself to educating people interested in graphics as a career. She also wrote an ebook titled: I’m Tired of Being Broke A Freelancer’s Guide to Working at Home

Support independent publishing: buy this e-book on Lulu.