Font Addicts Unite

A group of people holding hands together

I have confessed to font addiction before, so that’s nothing new. When you have over 10,000 fonts on your computer, you know your “problem” runs deep.

With that size collection, what can you do to keep them organized? And honestly, how can you really keep track of and remember all those different letter forms?

I was contacted by Lisa Wood of Sprout New Media this week. Lisa had two questions, and by her questions alone, I knew she was a fellow addict!

“How do you keep track of all your fonts?”

Lisa wondered if I had some kind of visual reference for fonts, and what system I used to organize them. Back in the B.C. (before children) days, I went through my collection and printed a sample page of the medium weight of every typeface style I had (see photo above).

I had to purchase a 3-inch binder to hold them all. After I punched holes in every page, I separated the styles into categories: serif; sans serif; display; script; etc.

When I was looking for a particular kind of typeface, I simply flipped through the pages. Each page showed the type large, and also had a sample paragraph in several different text sizes. You could see what the typeface would look like both in headlines and body copy.

A paper notebook: How quaint!

Using a three-ring binder to classify your typefaces seems so old fashioned now. The tool I recommended to Lisa was a piece of software called FontExplorer X Pro, by Linotype. Lisa is on a Mac, and I am, too.

[EDIT: I have since installed Suitcase Fusion 3 on one of my machines, and it’s a great piece of software, too.]

I can’t make first-hand recommendations for Windows users, but I have heard good things about a piece of software called MainType. (Windows users, what software do you use to organize your typefaces? Tell me in the comments!)

There are many advantage to using software to organize your typefaces:

  • Software allows to to tag typefaces with descriptors like “serif,” “display,” “script,” or even “playful,” or “corporate.” You can use any descriptors that will help you find and choose the fonts you have.
  • Font management software gives you the ability to turn fonts on and off, which makes a shorter font list in your software programs, and conserves computing power for other things.
  • You can see a preview of the font you’d like to use before you enable it (see below).

company fonts can be a little easier to manage with a font organization tool

“Where can I find more?”

This is the question that told me the most. Lisa wants more font goodness, and I understand. There’s no such thing as too many typefaces.

Back on this post about typography, Joel Friedlander was generous enough to mention FontSquirrel in his comment. FontSquirrel has become my go-to resource for new typefaces.

Other great resources are, and of course, which makes the FontExplorer software mentioned above.

FontSquirrel features an extensive collection of no-cost fonts. The quality varies, but if you just need to inject some quick personality into a project, they may have just the font for you.

How do you juggle fonts?

I’d like to know how you juggle your fonts. Do you use software? Paper? Let me know in the comments, and please share any type questions you may have. I know it’s a confusing subject for many people, so fire away and I’ll work to dispel your confusion.

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson coaches people to build profitable online businesses. She's an online educator, author, and keynote speaker. Read reviews of the tools used to run this site and business. Have you taken the free Focus Finder quiz yet?

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20 thoughts on “Font Addicts Unite”

  1. Thanks for these great places to go window shopping for fonts! That’s my next project in my marketing presence redesign, and I was a little stymied about where to look. My only concern is that I, too, might become a font junkie!

  2. It’s so addicting! Thanks, Pamela, for turning me on to that software. It will save me tons of time and guarantee that I’m using the fonts that I have.

  3. I took a lick at solving a related problem: printing a reference for combinations of my favorites and classics in my collection. I currently have it PDF form with an index, so all you have to do is open the PDF and go to the TOC and BAM, you can click an idea in a split second:

    Even though the PDF is great, I agree that paper is just different. It just is. I have a print edition on the way, just for font addicts 🙂

    On that note, you could “print” the Font Explorer X (which I have and love) sample pages as PDF, and then collate into one PDF using the combine feature of Acrobat. You can select a range of PDFs to create a book from in one click.

  4. I am also addicted to fonts. When I find one that I really like, I add it to my font folder. Recently, I purchased 1000 Fonts to have on hand for clients. It’s a great book and there are sooooo many fonts to choose from.

  5. I admit I organize my fonts the old fashioned way: paper.

    I created a “standard” paragraph and headine, then in Word I just keep copying and pasting it using each font I have. Then I print that document on 3-hole paper and put it in a binder.

    You only have to do it once for all your existing fonts, then update it when you get a new font.

    I really love to see the font in print in a book when I’m choosing fonts. Now I can just pull my 3-ring binder off the shelf, and flip through it until something catches my eye.

    I also like it because I can pull out two pages, put them side by side, and compare two fonts to see if they really are all that much different from one another. I’ve deleted a LOT of fonts from my computer when I discovered that 2 or 3 of them were so similar as to be redundant! 🙂

    • Mike, yes … I admit that it’s a little out of control. At least I’m not obsessed with shoes, right?

      Karyn, that’s a great system because it lets you compare them, which is important! The main thing is to find a system that works and use it.

  6. G’Day Pamela,
    I think that the only thing that matters about any font is this: How easy is it to read?

    Earlier this year there was an documentary on TV here about the development and history of Helvetica and how popular it was with designers and printers. The program was very good. But it was all about how good Helvetica looked. There was barely a word about “readability.”

    Thanks for the names of the font software. I’ll have a look.
    Make sure you have fun.



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