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Just My Type

February 2nd, 2011  |  Published in Featured, Shoot

The winter is here and if you’re like me, this is the time of year when you revisit your marketing materials. I’m currently looking at my brochures, price lists, web site and blog to see I need to update my branding. In these cold months I even start to wonder if my old logo needs updating. One of the most basic decisions I face when creating a new marketing piece or updating an old one is what typeface to use. Now, this is not to say that the font used is more important the the actual words and ideas expressed in the piece, but to me the font is what gives the message character before someone even reads it.

As you can see below, a weathered, beat-up, grungy typeface might communicate that my marketing piece is (trying to be) hip. A elegant calligraphic script might impart a sense of style and class. A traditional, legible, newsy font could help convey that what I’m saying is authoritative.

Are you tired of the fonts that came with your computer? Do you need some new typefaces for project or rebranding effort you’re working on? I’d like to share a few of the sources I use to research, identify, and obtain new fonts.

First, there are couple of tried and true websites that offer thousands of fonts free to download. If you want to easily experiment with a bunch of new typefaces, take a look at the sites DaFont and FontSpace.

dafont:

FontSpace:

Both these sites offer boatloads of fonts and sometimes they can be a lot to wade through. Even though the quality of many free fonts isn’t the best, browse long enough and you’ll be rewarded with some fabulous fonts. To help people circumvent this quality issue the editors over at Smashing Magazine frequently do round-ups of small collections of high quality free fonts.  Here is a link to some font round-ups on their search page. (Smashing Magazine also features free blog themes, backgrounds and textures too, so poke around there when you’ve got some time.)

After a while you’ll probably notice that the best free fonts tend to turn up in a lot of places. I guess that just makes sense, but it can be a bummer to see another photographer or a random banner ad using your favorite font. If you want to create marketing materials that are more distinctive you’ll probably need to buy some fonts.

My favorite place to research and purchase new fonts is the site MyFonts.

There are number of reasons why MyFonts is my favorite place to research and buy fonts. First, you can browse fonts by bestselling status or look at lists of hot or new fonts. There is even a sale section. Tags are probably the most useful feature of MyFonts. Users can tag any font with words they feel describe it, and then you can search on those tags. Interested in a font that is both vintage and feminine? A quick search and bingo! MyFonts hooks you up with 144 possibilities.

If your find a font is close to what you what, but not quite, (perhaps it’s a little pricey) you can click on a link to quickly see other similar fonts.

You can also explore fonts with related tags by clicking in the tag cloud for each font or search result.

To quickly get a feel for the personality of different typefaces, you can customize the sample text that MyFonts uses with text that you might be using in your work.

Imagine that you’re reading a magazine or browsing a website and you come across a beautiful typeface that you know will be perfect for the project you’re working on. Just scan it or take a screen capture of it and MyFonts has a couple of ways to help you figure out what font they used. First, head on over to the WhatTheFont tool. It will try to identify the font used in a jpg file that you upload. It’s actually kind of amazing. For example, here’s a very small version of my logo that I grabbed off my web site:

I upload the image to WhatTheFont and its first guess at the typeface is correct, Bentwood.

In fact, WhatTheFont’s other guesses are pretty good too and can make a great starting point for finding the perfect typeface for your project. If the WhatTheFont tool doesn’t guess the font, you can also post the image to the WhatTheFont forum where some scary smart folks will help you figure out what font it is and what other fonts may be similar.

So if you want to spruce up your branding or just have a bit of fun with your marketing, check out these sites and find some fonts that are just your type..

About Earl Christie

Earl Christie has written 40 post in this blog.

Earl is a Boston wedding photographer who finds love and magic and wonder in everything he shoots.

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