Even with a good knowledge of the type industry, finding fonts for your projects is often a convoluted and time consuming task, that ought to be more creative.
On the one hand, we are really lucky that there are so many high quality typefaces available. On the other, wading through lists of fonts can be tedious, and may eventually blind you to some fantastic options.
Finding fonts can be much easier once you have a few techniques up your sleeve and several go-to destinations. Here's how I tackle the problem…
1. Keep an inspiration list
I’ve found that the best way to have the right font at your fingertips, is to maintain a list of the great examples you’ve spotted. Keep it somewhere, like Pinterest and get into the habit of collecting them as you go. The list will soon grow and bloom over time. Start now and it’ll pay back dividends later. Feel free to pin any examples from my blog.
2. Blogs and Review sites
There’s no end to high-quality inspiration blogs and sites to find type on. Finding fonts when you have a good list of bookmarks is much easier. The places I like to visit are both general design blogs and specific typography sites.
The type specific sites I find myself often drawn to are:
- Fonts in Use Profiling thousands of real-world uses of type
- MakeTypeWork Awesome, new, and growing. Check out the ‘Fonts for…’ posts
- I Love Typography Fantastic articles and examples, first started back in 2008
- TypeWolf Web font focussed but features a broad range of top quality fonts
- Type Worship My previous blog, a huge source of inspirational type and lettering
- Proof&Co. Has a great resource list with links to all sorts of useful info
3. When you don’t know what you want
If you’re struggling to know what sort of style you want, try thinking about whether you want the font to compliment, accentuate or contrast with your design. You can find examples of these categories in my previous post (I’ll write a separe post specifically on this soon).
If you're still not sure what you want, spend 30 minutes swotting-up. My good friend Elliot Jay Stocks worked with Google to put together a fantastic educational website, with loads of articles you can dip in and out of: Choosing Type.
And if you are interested in How fonts are made, I wrote Google’s article on the subject.
4. When you do know what you want
My Fonts allows you to search for fonts by keyword like: '3D', 'Handwriting' or ‘Clean’, while a great idea, these results can be a little sketchy with plenty of non-conformers thrown in. Adobe Fonts also has a good category list though it's impossible to cover all subjects.
If you’d got a clear idea of what you want and need help narrowing it down, try the CEDARS+ search on I Love Typography. Here you can choose from a comprehensive checklist of typographic details to narrow down your search.
5. Let the machines help
If you have a font that you like, but it’s not quite right, a neat trick is to upload an image of it to What The Font, and let an algorithm suggest similar designs based on a library of over 230,000.
6. Follow indie foundries
It’s rewarding to explore and follow the libraries of my fellow independent foundries. They’re often on the cutting edge of style and technology, and are taking risks with innovative designs. Once you've found a few you like, bookmark them.
If the font I’m after doesn’t exist, well that’s when I’ll think about designing it. I’ve painted in a few missing areas of the font landscape so don’t forget to take a look at my own fonts.
7. Try the classics
If you’re still not sure, maybe a classic font would work. Over four years and across eight issues Elliot Jay Stocks and I interviewed 64 world-renowned designers for 8 faces Magazine. We asked each what their favourite 8 typefaces were and compiled a list of classic fonts here: Typographer’s Typefaces.