Fonts and scruples.

All fonts from the Ultimate Font Download

All fonts from the Ultimate Font Download

I was helping a friend with an Etsy shop icon. Her family had designed a lovely banner but translating that into a tiny square format proved to be an obstacle. The text used an ornate font which would be difficult to read shrunk down. I needed to find a similar but simpler font to match.

As it was a commercial use case I looked at, Font Squirrel but didn’t find anything quite right.

Then I looked at dafont and found a beautiful font called Birds of Paradise. It was free to download but $49 for commercial use. The comments pointed out that this was a revival of a font from the 1970s. This lead to several other revivals of the font, one of which is called Ballantines Serial by Softmaker. This font is a little less gorgeous than Birds of Paradise, but for a quick logo it is fine. But it is $14.99 per weight or $29.99 for the set.

Then I remembered back to a thing I bought “the Ultimate Font Download” as recommended by Ray Larabie. It’s a collection of second rate fonts, many of which are available for free, but also includes many older fonts from SoftMaker, including Ballantines Serial. It was the claim that they were all licensed for commercial use that got me. All for $19.95 – not sure how much gets to the designers, especially with their affiliate program – yes, I signed up too – if you would like to buy the pack of fonts through this link then I may get about $8 out of it.

Luc de Vroye is scathing about Parasites of Type Design over at his website. He is sceptical about the claim that the Ultimate Font Download has permission from all the designers. On the other hand, the Ultimate Font Download is quite transparent about what fonts are included and it does look like if there were any violations they would have been taken down by now.

You can download many, many old fonts off the internet. It’s the license to use the fonts which is the valuable part.

Other fonts - some that I have bought from myfonts, some freebies.

Other fonts – some that I have bought from myfonts, some freebies.

I did find that SoftMaker has a Free Font of the Month available.

Favourite fonts

Just had to write something to got with this beautiful design from Daily Drop Cap.

Fonts have been a preoccupation lately. I’m compiling a hymn book and need to settle on a font so I can get on with the fine tuning to make it look presentable. But finding the ideal font is difficult when you’re using an unusual program like LuaLaTeX. The prepackaged fonts are not bad:

Garamond is a big favourite, but it is incomplete and needs work. Browsing MyFonts there’s a beautiful one called Livory that would look good – but at that price I’d like to be able to try it out first. Getting fonts to work in LaTeX is non trivial. My book has a little greek in it, and it seems the more mundane fonts are the ones for that.

Greater Albion Typefounders is a treasure trove of beautiful fonts. The bonus is it is based in Australia. He specializes more in display fonts than body text, but his Anavio comes close.

So today I’m leaning towards Romande at 11pt with Anavio for the initials. I spent yesterday getting a Versicle and Response pair working using Anavio’s V and R plus a glyph from the Gregorio symbol font. I haven’t tried Venturis yet, but how much time do I want to sink into this?

Also came across an article on liturgical typesetting at

Update 12/7/11 – Currently running with Calluna at 11pt with Anavio for drop caps.

Fonts, fonts, fonts

Donald Knuth’s book Metafont begins with a warning that fonts can take over your life. There is a really bad pun too, but I do not consider it expedient to dig up the book to share it here with you.

Recently I have rediscovered MyFonts. Here you can browse fonts and learn about the designers, the foundries, the history, the creativity, just about everything about fonts. There are even some free fonts.

I am an inveterate cheap skate. One day when I make money out of publishing I will consider buying fonts. Until then I get by with the free offerings to be found online.

A little known treasure trove of fonts is typOasis where I first came across Paul Lloyd fonts. He lives just across the continent from me, and now keeps up a blog at Greater Albion Type Foundry and sells fonts through MyFonts.

Another favourite designer comes from Germany. Pia Frauss has some spectacular medieval fonts plus great notes on the sources. Her fonts are free for personal use.

From Estonia comes New Renaissance fonts. David Kettlewell has a package of 25 fonts from a while ago to download for free. Unfortunately they don’t work so well. It looks like you need to purchase his fonts from MyFonts to get usable fonts. But the website looks great.

Manfred Klein is also featured ontypOasis. His Fonteria has hundreds of fonts, not very easy to browse, but so many!

Last there’s another gem from typOasis. Dieter Steffman with a great variety of fonts that seem to be all in good working order.