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4 free font tools for designers

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Keep your costs down and find the perfect font for your designs with these great free font tools.

Fonts are an essential part of the design process, helping to create the feel of a website, app or other user interface. They can determine the voice we hear when we read something, whether it’s a webpage or a simple logo. The right font will make sure your brand and your message are interpreted in the way you intended.

Before you use a font… 

Much like images, fonts are a digital asset that need to be sourced in the right way. To use a font, even for personal use, you’ll need to make sure you have the right permissions. Some fonts will allow you to use them for free for personal use, but require you to buy a license to use them elsewhere. Others may prohibit you from using @font-face embedding, while some may be restricted for commercial use.

Here are some things to check before you use a font in your project:  

  • Before you download a font, check for license information on the website. Some sites include a search filter that lets you search by license type. Others may include info on how and where a font can be used in the description
  • If you download a font, check if there’s a “readme” file supplied, and read it! This will likely contain info about how the font can be used, including if it can be used commercially
  • Are there any restrictions detailed on how and where you can use a font?
  • Does the free license only cover you to use a font in a certain way? If the usage you want isn’t included, you may need to buy the relevant license
  • Is there any information about the font creator? If so, you may be able to contact them to request a license to use the font in a certain way (e.g. commercially)

Ultimately, if you aren’t sure that you’re able to use the font you’ve chosen in the way you want to, don’t use it.

The fonts you use have the power to determine whether something is portrayed as professional, comical or even low quality. But getting the right font doesn’t mean you have to break the bank! There are loads of great options out there that you can trial and use, absolutely free.

To help you get a feel for what’s around, we’ve reviewed some of the font tools we’ve tested out in the past. Whether you’re trying your hand at font design for some creative fun or want a new go-to style, read on…

If you know a good font tool that isn’t included below, leave us a comment and share your experience to help out!

The reviews

Tool 1 – Fonstruct

What is it? An online tool for editing and creating fonts

Why it’s great: This web-based font creator and editor lets you design online, without installing any software to your device. It’s simple, easy to use and offers an ‘expert mode’ that opens up a few more editing options. These include additional ‘view’ options, pen styles, lock guides and Unicode letter sets. Once you’re done, Fonstruct turns your saved design into a high-quality, ready-to-use TrueType font.

If you don’t want to create your own font, there’s also a library of fonts and patterns that you can search through. There’s a handy filter to narrow down the results you see and you can filter by license type which is really helpful.

What are its limitations? You need to create an account to access the tool, but it’s a simple email address and username combo. The main gripe with this tool is it’s a little archaic and involves some very basic piecing together of blocks. So, it’s a little time-consuming and you won’t be able to create anything too fancy. But, it’s a solid tool that’s straight-forward to use. There’s even a how-to guide to get you started >

Is there a paid version? No, it’s a free service that’s supported by advertising and an online shop.

Overall review: It’s useful for creating some basic font styles and patterns, especially if you’ve got time to play around with it. It is time-consuming and there’s a limit to how creative you can be with the blocks it provides. It lets you get the job done, but it isn’t the best tool if you’re looking for something brilliantly versatile.

Free font - Fontstruct
Font tool 1: Fonstruct

Tool 2 – Wordmark.it

What is it: A font comparison tool to help speed up the process of picking the right font for your project

Why it’s great: This is great if you want to make the most of the fonts you already have on your computer.  All you need to do is type some text into the search bar and it’ll generate a preview of it in every single font you have!

What are its limitations? It’s quite a basic tool and doesn’t give you much flexibility as it uses the fonts you already have installed. There’s also a distinct lack of creativity, but if you want to compare some font styles, it does the job.

Is there a paid version? Yes, but it doesn’t really offer anything extra. For $2 a month you can have an ad-free experience and tag fonts to sort them into categories.

Overall review: It’s not a creative tool but it does a great job of utilising the assets you already have. It’s particularly helpful if you’re looking for the right typeface to represent a brand or set of marketing materials.

Free font - Wordmark.it
Font tool 2: Wordmark.it

Tool 3 – Calligraphr

What is it? A tool that converts your handwriting into vector fonts

Why it’s great: Sometimes you just can’t find a font that matches the one you have in your head. This tool gives you the ability to convert your hand-written font into a fully-functioning vector font. It comes with an easy-to-follow template for you to fill out that you can quickly upload using a QR scanner.

No registration required, but you can create a free account to access more features including customisable templates and editing options.

What are its limitations? If you’re not looking for a handwriting-style font, this probably isn’t the tool for you. If you don’t register, the limited version of the tool seems to have an issue with recognising punctuation (see below). Registering for an account opens you up to more characters. It only allows up to 75 glyphs (characters) per font, and if you need more you’ll need to fork out for a paid account.

Is there a paid version? Yes, you can upgrade for one month, three months or six months to gain access to the full range of features. Prices range from $8 for one month to $24 for six months.

Overall review: It’s a straight-forward tool that does what it says on the tin and it’s great if you’ve got neat handwriting! Despite the punctuation glitches on the basic form, the tool converts handwriting into vectors pretty seamlessly. With some basic editing options available, it’s a quick and useful tool to have on-hand.

Free font - Calligraphr
Font tool 3: Calligraphr

Tool 4 – F37 Foundry

What is it? An online font tester by font foundry F37, designed to promote its typeface

Why it’s great: Inspired by Adobe Illustrator, the features you get to test out are fairly intuitive. With F37 being a font foundry, there’s a nice range of fonts to test out in the tool. You can modify things like the size, weight, colour and position of the text to find the perfect combination for you. Plus, it’s pretty fun to test out the different fonts!

What are its limitations? Unsurprisingly, you can only test out F37’s collection of fonts within the tool. Additionally, despite the tool being free, if you actually want to use any of the fonts, you’ll need to pay.

Is there a paid version? Not of the tool. But ultimately, the only way to gain access to the fonts for your projects is to buy them. Prices range from £15 up to £450 for the different styles and font packages.

Overall review: A sophisticated testing tool that’s intuitive and easy to use. There’s a good range of fonts on offer but if you go into the tool expecting a free download, you’ll be disappointed. The fonts don’t cost the earth, but if you’re in the market for freebies, it’s not the tool for you.

Free font - F37 Foundry
Font tool 4: F37 Foundry

So, there you have it, our round-up of just four of the free font tools out there right now.  If you give the tools a go for yourself or have used them before, be sure to let us know what you think! We’d love to hear any other free tools that you use, so leave us a comment below.

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