Font Management Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Identifying fonts


Font Management Essential Training

with Mike Rankin

Video: Identifying fonts

From time to time you may find yourself in In either case, pay attention to the tips below to get best results.
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  1. 1m 50s
    1. Welcome
      1m 22s
    2. Using the exercise files
  2. 16m 36s
    1. What is a font?
      3m 1s
    2. Understanding TrueType fonts
      2m 39s
    3. Understanding PostScript fonts
      2m 34s
    4. Understanding OpenType fonts
      3m 15s
    5. Understanding dfonts
      3m 5s
    6. Understanding web fonts
      2m 2s
  3. 23m 5s
    1. Understanding operating system default fonts UPDATED
      2m 21s
    2. Understanding software-installed fonts UPDATED
      4m 16s
    3. Finding free fonts
      6m 34s
    4. Purchasing fonts from foundries
      4m 0s
    5. Subscribing to font libraries
      3m 48s
    6. Creating custom fonts
      2m 6s
  4. 27m 39s
    1. Understanding font conflicts
      3m 37s
    2. Replacing the font cache
      3m 38s
    3. Converting fonts to different forms with TransType Pro
      5m 39s
    4. Checking the font version
      3m 54s
    5. Solving problems with zero-byte fonts
      3m 24s
    6. Fixing font problems with Smasher
      3m 35s
    7. Fixing font problems with FontDoctor
      3m 52s
  5. 30m 11s
    1. Understanding the Mac font folder hierarchy
      4m 5s
    2. Avoiding problems with Mac system fonts UPDATED
      2m 3s
    3. Understanding Adobe application font folders UPDATED
      5m 33s
    4. Understanding Microsoft Office fonts
      4m 39s
    5. Activating and deactivating fonts
      2m 10s
    6. Removing unnecessary fonts
      4m 27s
    7. Solving conflicts with Helvetica UPDATED
      2m 28s
    8. Best practices for manual font organization on a Mac
      4m 46s
  6. 17m 36s
    1. Understanding the Windows Fonts Control Panel
      3m 13s
    2. Understanding the Adobe application font folders
      3m 7s
    3. Understanding Microsoft Office fonts
      1m 38s
    4. Activating and deactivating fonts
      2m 11s
    5. Removing unnecessary fonts
      3m 7s
    6. Best practices for manual font organization in Windows
      4m 20s
  7. 26m 47s
    1. Understanding the Font Book interface
      5m 23s
    2. Previewing and installing fonts
      6m 42s
    3. Enabling and disabling fonts
      2m 31s
    4. Organizing collections of fonts
      5m 17s
    5. Validating fonts
      2m 50s
    6. Exporting font collections
      2m 5s
    7. Printing font samples
      1m 59s
  8. 7m 8s
    1. Understanding the benefits of font management software
      2m 54s
    2. How to choose a font management solution
      4m 14s
  9. 41m 46s
    1. Understanding the Suitcase Fusion interface
      6m 58s
    2. Adding fonts
      2m 52s
    3. Organizing fonts with sets
      5m 42s
    4. Sharing font sets
      2m 11s
    5. Creating Smart Sets
      3m 5s
    6. Finding fonts
      3m 53s
    7. Activating and deactivating fonts
      4m 20s
    8. Using QuickMatch to find similar fonts
      2m 53s
    9. Using font auto-activation
      2m 58s
    10. Previewing and printing fonts
      4m 4s
    11. Backing up a font vault in the cloud NEW
      2m 50s
  10. 29m 56s
    1. Avoiding problems with faux bold and italic
      4m 57s
    2. Managing and packaging fonts in InDesign
      6m 57s
    3. Managing and packaging fonts in Illustrator
      5m 13s
    4. Using fonts in Mac system applications
      4m 22s
    5. Using fonts in Windows 8 system applications
      4m 8s
    6. Font considerations for digital documents
      4m 19s
  11. 24m 16s
    1. Identifying fonts
      4m 22s
    2. Finding sources of typographic inspiration
      3m 56s
    3. Getting answers to font questions
      1m 51s
    4. Websites for creating fonts
      6m 42s
    5. Mobile apps for creating fonts
      2m 26s
    6. Creating fonts in InDesign
      4m 59s
  12. 42s
    1. Next steps

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Watch the Online Video Course Font Management Essential Training
4h 7m Appropriate for all Dec 11, 2013 Updated Feb 27, 2015

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

When you're working with type, you need a plan for sourcing, organizing, validating, and managing fonts. In this course, Mike Rankin explains the different types of fonts and font licenses available on Mac and Windows and where you can acquire new fonts. He'll show designers how to use built-in OS tools as well as third-party software to manage font libraries. He'll provide tips on organizing fonts, and troubleshooting common font problems.

Topics include:
  • What is a font?
  • Understanding TrueType, PostScript, and OpenType fonts
  • Using web fonts
  • Understanding what fonts come with your computer
  • Purchasing fonts
  • Activating and deactivating fonts
  • Installing fonts
  • Using Mac Font Book or Suitcase Fusion
  • Choosing font management software
  • Identifying fonts
  • Creating fonts in InDesign
Mike Rankin

Identifying fonts

From time to time you may find yourself in the situation of needing to identify a particular font. Maybe you're trying to match the look of something you see in print or on the web, or maybe you want to find a font that looks like another one you don't have for some reason. Fortunately there are some great websites that can help you identify mystery fonts. I have a few of them open here in my browser, so, let's check them out. The first one here is the what the font section of Here you can either upload an image of a font or the URL of an image.

In either case, pay attention to the tips below to get best results. I'll choose to upload a file. And on my desktop I have mystery_font.png, which looks like this. I'll click Choose, and Continue. I'll scroll down and in the character section I can confirm or correct each character that has been identified. And you'll get much better results here if the letters aren't touching in your image. These ones are all correct, so I'll click continue. And here are my results.

All of which identify this mystery font as Bradley Hand. Which it is. Now if the automated tools at WhatTheFont didn't work, you can submit the image to the user forums here and see if someone can identify it for you. Go to the forum, and I can upload an image here and you can see some cases where people are trying to identify specific fonts. And the status of the case if it's been solved or unsolved. WhatTheFont also has a mobile app which can be really useful if you want to take pictures of type with your phone and then try to identify the fonts used in that type.

Just go under WhatTheFont, choose mobile. And you can get the details of the mobile app. Another site with several different methods for identifying mystery fonts is You can search for specific fonts if you know just part of the name. Or if you know it looks like another font, you can search for similar fonts. So say you had a sample that looked like Papyrus but wasn't exactly Papyrus. You could search on that name or just click on it. And then just click through the different similar fonts until you've found a match. You can also search by specific symbols by clicking on fonts by picture.

So, if you had a dingbat font that contained a dragon say, you could search on dragon and find fonts that contain dragons and so forth. But maybe the most interesting option is the one on the far left, fonts by appearance. Here you can try to identify a font by answering a series of questions about the appearance of the characters. You start out with the entire pool of over 9500 possible fonts. You can focus on specific characters and if you know the year of your sample, you can exclude fonts that were released after that date and hopefully get to the answer quicker. To the right you can click through the questions and answer each one Continuously narrowing down the possible options, until you get to a single font. I'll just click through them very quickly and here in this case if all those were true, the font would be Florentine. If Identifont couldn't identify your font you could also try a similar question and answer tool at, right here. And the site Bowfin Printworks also has a visual identification tool and the nice thing here is that you can see all the questions on one page rather than clicking through a whole bunch of pages which can sometimes get kind of tedious. Another option is at the site Click on Font ID at the top. And here you can tap into the expertise of the other folks on the forums and upload an image of type to see if anyone knows what it is. You can also scroll through the other samples other people have uploaded. And if there's an entry on the far right, you know there's been a positive identification. So when you need to identify a mystery font, the good news is there's no shortage of options. In fact, you might have a hard time choosing between them. But with a little effort and some patience, you can tap into some great resources, an stand a good chance of identifying the right font.

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