Have you ever seen an interesting font in an article or ad and then tried to discover its name? You probably soon discovered it can be a daunting task, because there are thousands of possibilities. Fortunately, a font provides clues to its identity. Before the age of home computers, fonts were the exclusive territory of typographers, designers and artists. Now all computer users have access to thousands of fonts, and more become available all the time. By asking a few questions, you can identify an unknown font.
If you’re using church-related design sites for your communication needs, such as ChurchArt.com, you’ll see a variety of templates for newsletters, postcards, flyers, clip art and more. You may be wondering; do you have these fonts in your library? Use the resources and tips below to learn more about the fonts in the templates you see.
Where to Start
Look for these clues:
- Is the font serif or sans serif? (Serifs are the feet or hooks at the end of main strokes.) Determining this eliminates about half of the possible fonts.
- If it’s a serif font, what style are the serifs? Are they rounded or square, thick or thin? Where are they placed, and how are they shaped? What are their unique properties?
- To narrow down the possibilities even more, zero in on the font’s overall appearance. What traits does it have: casual, formal, script, childlike, condensed, extended, calligraphic, foreign looking, handwritten, stenciled, typewritten?
- Compare shapes, widths, angles and curves.
- Are the characters bold, outlined, shaded, incised or patterned?
- What distinctions exist among the lowercase ascenders (b, d, f, h, k, l, t) and descenders (g, j, p, q, y)? Does the font have a small “x-height” — the height of the lowercase x — so the ascenders look long? Or does it have a tall x-height, so the ascenders look short? For example, the lowercase b set in Garamond has a small x-height compared to the b set in Graphos.
- What are the strokes like in capital letters? Does the tail of the capital Q cross the oval? Is the loop in P or R open or closed? If it’s closed, does it cross the main stroke? Does the middle point of a capital M drop halfway down the letter or all the way down? For example, the middle point of M set in Albertus drops halfway down, compared to a Times New Roman M that touches the baseline.
- What are the strokes like in lowercase letters? Does the letter u have a stem running down the side? Is the loop on the bottom of the letter g closed as in Bookman Old Style or open as in Baskerville Old Face?
Finding Fonts Online
Most type foundries have online catalogs that are divided into categories by font style. A comprehensive list of font publishers and foundries is available at www.identifont.com/publishers.html. Here’s an alphabetical list of major suppliers to get started:
While browsing through online font libraries, you’ll notice that many fonts are virtually identical but have different names depending on the manufacturer. So even if you can’t find the mystery font, you should be able to locate one that’s very close. If you work with a printing company, its reps can use their resources to locate the font.
Online resources abound for identifying a mystery font. Apps are available now too, offering fast and reliable answers. At www.myfonts.com/WhatTheFont/ for example, you can upload a PNG or JPG image for a quick search of 133,000 fonts. If an image contains multiple fonts, the site finds them all. A free corresponding mobile app called “WhatTheFont” lets you use a smartphone camera to take a picture of a mystery font. By tapping the font you want to identify, you’ll discover its name as well as several similar alternatives. The Adobe Capture app, powered by the Typekit font library, can sync a font from a photo to your Creative Cloud account. That way you can start using it in other Adobe apps, such as Photoshop. Other websites to try include:
Experiment with font-identifying websites and apps to find one you like. These days, there’s no need to be stumped by a font’s identity. With all the resources now available, detective work is a snap.
Learn more about type and other design topics with ChurchArt Pro. Start a 14-day free trial with ChurchArt Pro to find just the right church-specific graphics, templates, clip art, photos and more, click here to learn more or to start your trial.
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