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Finding Fonts FAQ

Updated: June 25, 2009

Q.I need 'font x'. Can you send it to me?
A.

No. We do not sell or distribute fonts.

Q.Can you tell me where I can get it?
A.

There are over 100,000 digital fonts in existence. Your best bet is to contact one of the font distributors listed in our Links section.

Q.Where can I get free fonts?
A.

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. We list 'free font foundries' and 'commercial foundries' in our Links section.

Q.Can you tell me which fonts are supplied with Microsoft products?
A.

We've put together lists of fonts supplied with many popular Microsoft products.

Q.I installed Microsoft Office, but I'm not seeing the fonts that should be included?
A.

Make sure you have installed all the Office applications, including Microsoft Publisher. Many of the fonts included with Microsoft Office are a part of Microsoft Publisher. If you've installed all the applications and still don't see the fonts you'd expect, try your original installation CD. Here are instructions specific to Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003: Begin in the CD drive window in Windows Explorer, and complete the following steps: 1. Start Setup.exe to activate Windows Installer and prepare the configuration wizard. 2. At the first screen, leave the default radio button checked and click 'next'. 3. On the next screen, leave all selections checked, and check 'Choose advanced customization of applications' and click 'next'. 4. In the Advanced Customization dialog, you must select 'Run all from My Computer' on each of the drop-downs for Microsoft Publisher, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Office Shared Features. Then, click 'Update'. (This will not affect the rest of your existing installation.) 5. Wait for the update to complete. You should now find the complete font package available in Microsoft Word and Microsoft Publisher.

Q.How do I print samples of all the fonts installed on my computer?
A.

See this Microsoft Knowledge Base article - q209205.

Q.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?

A.

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.

For more information on how hinting works, and why it helps, see our comprehensive TrueType hinting document.

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.

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