Fonts – what, where and buy

Production Tips & Tricks

Recently we had a client ask us about fonts and where a good source would be to purchase them. We thought we would share that information with everyone.

typesNot all fonts are created equally. There are free fonts, nearly free fonts, true type, open type and postscript. Each has their advantages and disadvantages, knowing what they are can save you many headaches and phone calls. And sometimes, just because you can get them to work on your printer, does not mean they will work for us.

Free Fonts. There are some very talented fonts designers who design fonts and share them with the world for free. However, sometimes you get what you pay for. Often these fonts were created for a specific reason and might be incomplete, missing some punctuation, etc. Many times these fonts can error out when you try to create a PDF or RIP the file to make plates. Typically if you are using these fonts it is best to do so where you can convert the type to outlines before you make the PDF.

Nearly Free Fonts. These are font packages that offer hundreds of fonts for less than $100. Again, these fonts may or may not be complete and for the most part won’t RIP or go to PDF. Your best bet is to use these fonts where you can outline them.

True Type Fonts. These typefaces have been around awhile and are a good format to use. When they first appeared in the mid-to-late 90s, they were not known for their reliability going to film. The quality of this format from the major type houses has since increased and this font type is generally not a problem. Most of the Free or Nearly Free Fonts will also be of this type, they are more common on PCs and many PC True Type fonts will work on a Mac, but not all. (Mac true type fonts will not work on a PC)

Open Type Fonts. This is a fairly new format, it is an attempt by the font companies to make fonts that have identical metrics (how the fonts displays & print) across all computing platforms (Mac & PC). These fonts are very high quality and present no problems in the print work flow.

Postscript Type 1 Fonts. These have been around since the beginning of desktop publishing, they are reliable and high quality. There can be some issues with older Postscript fonts not working. The way PS fonts were handled by computer operating systems changed about 4 or 5 years ago and fonts made prior to 1998 were rendered obsolete.

Where should you get your fonts? Well, the free sites are everywhere, take your pick. A fairly reliable site is 1001 Free Fonts. I have no recommendation for the low cost fonts sites. For TrueType, OpenType and Postscript fonts you will pay a higher price but the quality and reliability will be worth it. Of course Adobe is the highest quality and so the highest price. Linotype and Bitstream are two of the other long-time type foundries, they both sell quality fonts at prices lower than Adobe.

When purchasing fonts we suggest that you have a good, high-quality foundation of fonts for text usage. You can reserve the free or near free fonts for display or artistic type treatments that you create in Illustrator or Photoshop.

Each type has its advantages, just choose wisely. And of course, if you ever have a question, please feel free to contact your CSR or salesperson for advice.

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