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Although Microsoft Word includes an array of free fonts, sometimes you just want more – be it a German gothic script, Art Deco lettering or “handwritten” calligraphy. Luckily, you don’t need to fork out cash to put some pep in your designs: here’s how to download free fonts from my site of choice, Font Squirrel.
Why Font Squirrel? Well, it’s intuitive, you can guarantee that all of the fonts on the site are free to use (unlike some of its rivals), I’ve never had a problem with it and, quite frankly, I like the name. It’s an invaluable resource for guilt-free fonts.
I’ve also used the venerable DaFont (which has been around for the best part of two decades) and 1001 Fonts, which are both fine – just make sure you know what you’re downloading and how you can use it.
Download free fonts: Browsing
Prepare to be taught to suck eggs. First, head to Font Squirrel and peruse the range of free fonts. Although the archive isn’t as big as other sites, there are still thousands to choose from. I’m a fan of the “Handdrawn” category, which showcases designs that were obviously a real labour of love (I can speak from experience, having created a hand-drawn font for this very website).
Download free fonts: Checking
Once you’ve settled on a font, navigate to its page by clicking on the example image. There are a couple of pre-flight checks you need to carry out by scrolling down and clicking on the purple tabs over the sample image.
As an example, I downloaded Rob Jelinski’s Beth Ellen font, which is based on his late mother’s handwriting. In fact, Rob has left a touching note in the Font Information section: “My single request is that you help the legacy of Beth Ellen live on by sending a short note to someone you love each time the font is used.” First, have a look at the Specimens (there are usually at least seven images) to see how the font will work in a real-world environment. It’s also worth trying the Test Drive tool as a sort of “dress rehearsal” for any headings you may use the font for.
Lastly, and most importantly, click on the License tab. The legalese might be a little discombobulating at first, but you’re essentially just double-checking that there’s an Open Font License – which means you can use it for personal or commercial projects.
Download free fonts: Downloading
Now we come to the main event: actually downloading the font. Click on the light purple Download OTF/TTF button in the top-right of the font’s page. This will generate a ZIP file containing the font file, a copy of the licence and, sometimes, a PDF with extra information from the creator.
Download free fonts: Installing
Installing fonts on your PC or Mac is a gruelling ordeal that takes… a few clicks of the mouse.
If you’re a Windows user, open the ZIP file by double-clicking on it, right-click on the font file and select Install. Job done.
If you’re a Mac devotee, the process is just as simple. First, double-click on the ZIP file to open it, before double-clicking on the font file itself to generate a preview.
Simply click Install Font to complete the process and start using your shiny new font.
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