Since thousands of varied quality fonts readily available for download from free font sites, it’s important to be able to spot andunderstand the difference between a ‘professional quality’ font and those of ‘lower grade’ and less quality.
Take into account that I’m not stating that you should stop using “free” fonts all together, but rather become aware of how a professionally created fonts can positively effect your designs and how to distinguish one when you see it.
‘Professional quality’ fonts have consistency between letterforms, which can create great a better sense of unity between characters. The relationship between glyphs help the letters ‘sit’ better together; improving its readability. Also attributes such as x-height, serifs, descenders, etc, should have a consistent relationship and not vary. The letterforms should appear as if they were made to work together rather than as single characters — they should flow.
A professional-grade font should also be able to be read clearly and consistently — especially at varied sizes. The consistency of the letterforms contribute to the readability when the characters are next to each other.
While some type programs allow you to force bold, italicize or create small caps from any ol’ font, this is not the same as having a series of the same font with various sizes, weights and slants. A font should at the very least have a bold, oblique, and possibly a few weights. What’s the difference between oblique and italic?
Many lower quality fonts don’t work necessarily as well with a wide range of other fonts. Lower grade fonts are usually less versatile because they lack planning when designed. You’d be amazed by the outcome of learning how to work with a few high quality font families as opposed to having thousands of poor quality fonts at your fingertips will make.
Ten Type Foundries you should know
- Hoefler & Frere-Jones
- House Industries
- Font Shop
- Font Bureau
- Complete list of font foundries