Font redistribution FAQ
I need 'font x'. Can you send it to me?
No. We do not sell or distribute fonts.
Can you tell me where I can get it?
There are over 100,000 digital fonts in existence. Your best bet is to contact one of the font distributors listed in our vendors section.
Where can I find free fronts?
Some type designers give away their fonts for free, but most type designers and collectives (known as font foundries) charge money for the fonts they produce.
Are fontpacks a good deal?
I've seen advertised '1000 High Quality' TrueType fonts for $24, whereas another company charges $100 for a single typeface. I know you get what you pay for, but can the $100 typeface really be that much better?
You are right to comment that you get what you pay for. However, there is no easy answer to your question, as there are various factors which combine to make a good quality TrueType font.
The most obvious factor is the quality of the actual outlines themselves. It is possible to create font outlines automatically using a utility that traces the edges of bitmap graphics. The quality of these 'auto-traced' typefaces can be very low. However, in some cases, particularly where used for display text, this rough look can be an advantage. The designers of high quality fonts will often spend a large amount of time perfecting their outlines.
A second critical factor relates to the spaces between letters. Again, utilities can auto-space characters, however the designers of high quality fonts will spend long periods of time optimising this spacing.
Another equally important factor is the quality of the font's 'hinting'. Hinting is a labour intensive process which makes character displayed on screen at small sizes more legible. High quality fonts, especially those designed for screen use should be hinted to a high standard. Unlike some other formats, TrueType allows diagonal as well as vertical and horizontal strokes to be hinted. The quality and level of hinting invested in a font can make all the difference between a good and a great screen font.
A fact that many users may not be aware of is that fonts can potentially contain bugs that can crash operating systems and applications. High quality fonts have been fed through automated test routines and tested with a wide range of applications and operating systems.
Finally, one reason why a font pack might be cheap is that the type designs are simply 'knockoff' copies of other designers' original work.
What can I do with the fonts supplied with Microsoft products?
The fonts are governed by the same restrictions as the products they are supplied with. You are not allowed to copy, redistribute or reverse engineer the font files. For full details see the license agreement supplied with the product.
Can I embed Microsoft fonts in my documents?
Embedding allows fonts to travel with documents. Most fonts distributed with Microsoft products allow embedding. To check a font's embedding permissions, right-click on the font file and choose 'Properties'.
There are 4 levels of embedding permissions:
- 'Print and preview' fonts can be embedded in a document, provided the user reading the document cannot edit the content of the document.
- 'Editable' fonts can be embedded within content that can be edited by the user.
- 'Installable' fonts within a document may be permanently installed by the user reading the document or a client application. In practice, installable fonts are treated like editable fonts by most client applications.
- 'No embedding permissions' prevent fonts from being embedded in a document.
I'd like to license a particular font supplied with a Microsoft product.
Microsoft licenses existing fonts from various font vendors and also commissions original fonts. If you are looking to license a particular font, you should contact the vendor directly. The vendor will be listed in the font's copyright or trademark entry. To find out this information, right-click on the font file and choose 'Properties'.
Until recently, most fonts that include a Microsoft copyright or trademark notice have only been available as part of Microsoft products. Although some fonts remain Microsoft-exclusive, a number of Microsoft fonts are now available to end users, ISVs and OEMs under license from Ascender Corporation. These include 'Verdana', 'Georgia', 'Comic Sans MS', 'Microsoft Sans Serif', 'Nina', 'Tahoma', 'Wingdings', 'Webdings' and 'Trebuchet MS'.
Public domain fonts
What are 'public domain' fonts?
A friend gave me a disc of what they called 'public domain' fonts. I'd like to install them, but I want to be sure they are legal. If my boss catches me with pirated software on my office computer, I'll be in big trouble. What should I do?
To find out copyright and trademark information, right-click on the font file and choose 'Properties'.
If a font has no copyright information, can I assume it is public domain or should I be suspicious?
Be wary if you can't find any copyright or trademark information. Even public domain, freeware, or custom fonts should contain at least the designer's name.
If you think a font may be public domain, freeware or shareware, look for an accompanying 'Readme' file that will explain how to register the font, and any restrictions in using it. For example, many freeware fonts are only for non-commercial use.
Where do such 'blank' fonts come from?
Some originate in another font format and have been converted by a utility that strips out the copyright information. In most cases, although these converted fonts can be legally used by the original font buyer, their redistribution is usually forbidden.
The copyright information can also be deliberately removed by a malicious person trying to avoid the authorities.
What should I do with a 'blank' font?
Contact the font supplier and ask for an explanation. If you've lost track of where the font came from, it's probably best to remove the font from your system. You can also replace it with a legitimate version from a different supplier, if available.
Some of my system fonts are attributed to Altsys or Macromedia. Are these companies type foundries?
No. Macromedia and Altsys were companies that previously supplied a type design application called Fontographer. If a designer created a font with Fontographer and didn't change the default settings, the font was attributed to Macromedia or Altsys.
Usually, when a designer creates a font from scratch, they encode their name or foundry name in the font. If you acquire a font attributed to Altsys or Macromedia, you should be suspicious of its origins.