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20 Things You'll Only Understand If You're Slightly Obsessed with Fonts

Kevin Whipps March 31, 2021 · 10 min read
What does your Fonts folder look like? Is it clean and tidy? Does it have the standard fare plus a few more, or is it overflowing with files that end in “free” and comes with accompanying folders showing the licensing details? Well if you’re obsessed with fonts, then you probably have more than a few to manage, and they might just take over your life. But hey, that’s fine with us. We love fonts around these parts, and since we’re a bit obsessive about them ourselves, it only made sense for us to explain to the less font-focused of us out there what it’s like to be in our heads.

There are no perfect font managers

There comes a point when the font management tool that your computer comes with just won’t cut the mustard. With all of your fonts loaded and ready to go, Photoshop drags like a brick in snow and even word processors will barely open. But the alternatives? Well every one of them is at least passable, but we haven’t found one yet that can do everything that we want it to do — automatic classifications, never crashes, etc. So until we do, we’ll lament its loss, but continue stockpiling fonts like they were going out of style because, well, why wouldn’t you?

There’s always room for 10 more in your collection

Enough is enough, right? Ummm … no. There’s always room for a few more fonts in your collection, no matter how large your pile. Sure, it may be difficult to find that one from three months ago when you need it, but that’s why you need more options. Nobody can have too many of those, right?


Your Pinterest Feed is an orgy of fonts

If you’re a Pinterest fan, then you’ve likely seen those people with boards dedicated to fonts, both free and paid. Maybe you’re one of those people, and you even break it down based on sans serif/serif, modern, brush, etc. Maybe you have the most organized Pinterest font collection ever, and your friends are jealous. Maybe that means that we want to be your friend. OK, definitely.

You know the free font alternative to popular fonts

Now here’s the thing: paying for quality fonts is important, because just like you, as a designer, want to be paid for your work, so does a font designer. So that part is key. However, there are times when you need either a famous or high-end font and either just don’t have the money to buy it, or the budget from your client. In those cases, you just need to get the job done, so you figure out your options. A savvy font obsessive knows their options at all times, including alternatives to the pricey fonts.

You are Identifont/What the Font

Q: What do you call someone who uses Identifont or What The Font? A: Rookie. A true font connoisseur knows the differences not only between different fonts, but also different weights of said fonts. So why would you need a tool that helps you learn what that particular font might be when you already have the answer?

You classify fonts by time periods

If you’ve ever said the phrase, “Oh, Mistral is so nineties,” then you might be font obsessive. You know not only when a font was originally designed (and by whom), but also when it hit its peak popularity. That, my friend, is a level of historical knowledge that some historians don’t have, but when it comes to fonts, you’ve got it covered.


You’ll decide if a thing is good enough based on its font

Obviously, Avatar was going to be a horrible movie. After all, they used Papyrus not only for the posters, but also for the captioning, which is a mortal sin against all things font related. Now that’s the famous example, but you take it one step further. You won’t eat at a restaurant if their menus have poor kerning, or go to a concert if their promo materials have stretched out fonts. No, you have standards, and that crap will not fly.

Every company’s rebranding effort becomes your time to shine

Companies rebrand all the time, and often they use either a custom typeface, or they build on an existing one and tweak it for their own needs. This is when you come out of your shell and start to show the world that you know the source font for this rebranding. “Oh, they rebranded? That’s obviously a tweaked version of Optima, naturally.” That’s right, you’re that good.


You know who made the fonts

To font aficionados, the designers of their favorite fonts are celebrities. They’re the people who can continue making cool stuff that we can use, so they’re our Dylan, 2Pac and Beethoven all in one (boy, that would be an interesting combo, wouldn’t it?). So you have it on lock that Paul Renner created Futura (as well as Architype Renner, Plak and some of Futura’s variations), and that Hermann Zapf not only brought Optima into the world, but also Zapfino. These are your heroes, so you worship them accordingly. Head here to check out the fascinating stories behind some of the most unpopular fonts on Earth, including Comic Sans, Times New Roman, and Brush Script.

Your font collection is organized

As we’ve already mentioned, we haven’t found any good font managers, but the truly font obsessive type already has that covered. How? Some people we know use nested folders to sort their font files, then import and export them as necessary. Or maybe they use Dropbox to keep everything synced across machines, or possibly they did find a decent font management app, and they’ve done their own sorting and categorizing. Not that we know anyone like that. Nobody. Now, in case you need some extra help finding font management apps, we rounded up a great list of alternatives here.

You’ve made your own fonts

It usually starts off innocently enough. You find an app or a website that offers to convert your handwriting into a font, so you try it out, and sure enough, you’ve got a custom jobber of your own. But that just whet your appetite; now you want to create more fonts of your own design. Oh, just think of the possibilities!

You have this Chrome plug-in

Maybe you’re a beginning font obsessive, or you have so many fonts that you don’t have time to dig into things as much as you’d like. With this Chrome extension, you don’t have to do any digging. Just hover your mouse over the text and it will show you what font is being used. Click on the text, and you’ll get even further details. So yes, it’s kind of like What the Font (which you probably don’t use as a font obsessive), but everyone has gaps in their knowledge, so it doesn’t hurt to get more info.

You Know The story of The Doves Type (and probably have it)

For those of you who don’t know the story, here’s a quick rundown. Two men go into business together in 1900, running a print shop named the Doves Press. And to make sure they produced amazing books, they created their own typeface in the process, which is now known as Doves Type. But when the relationship went sour, one of the partners didn’t want the other to get the type, so he spent months bringing small pieces of the type and dumped it in the Thames River. Today, people have dug some of it up, and you can also buy it online. But if you’re a font obsessive, then you already know this.

Visiting a school gives you a headache

Have you been to a K-5 school recently? Everything is done in Comic Sans, particularly for the younger students. What kind of example is that setting for the children of America? They are our future. Why should they suffer with poor font choices like that? And Curlz? Really? On posters and signs? Yes, all of the fonts that the pros hate are on display at your local school. It’s a tragedy.

Your Glyphs Panel is always open

Just because you know your fonts that doesn’t mean that you know all of their variations. But if you design in Photoshop or Illustrator, you know that some font sets come with extra characters, and they’re found in the Glyphs panel. For a pro, these are the tools they use to set their logos apart from all the others, with minor tweaks worked in here and there. It’s a great way to go if you want to be just a touch different.

You know the difference between a font and a typeface

Now you may think you’re a font expert, but if you don’t know this one, you need to step up your game. Granted, a lot of people get this wrong, so let me distill this down a little bit. Basically, a typeface referred to the physical character on a block that was used on a printing press, and a font was the group of character blocks that were the same size and style. Today, those two terms are pretty much swappable, particularly amongst most designers, with font leading the way as the dominant term to use. Of course, you already knew that, you fancy font obsessive.

Little Tweaks Make all the difference

When someone takes something good and refines it, you appreciate it all the more. My favorite example of this is Courier and Courier Prime. For screenwriters, Courier is the standard for a variety of reasons, but one of them is because it’s monospaced and 1 page of text equals 1 minute of screen time. However, Courier has some issues, and Courier Prime takes them and tweaks them to the next level. Like italics are actually italics, not just slanted letters — things like that. It’s the little things that make all the difference.

You’re way too picky about infographics

Infographics — when they’re done well — are great, but sometimes they can jump off the rails and look way too busy. Why? Because they use too many fonts. Some designer thought they’d be fancy, and the results are a bit of a mess. You’re a purist — three fonts or less, please — or you’ve already set other standards that most infographics just don’t meet.

You Always Get All The Fonts

Everybody can use a new font, so setting up Google alerts for new ones is just thinking ahead. And you also subscribe to every newsletter out there to see what free fonts are available each week, and you voraciously consume every single one. Collecting them turns into a bottomless pit of sorts, where you’re always getting new ones, and it seems to never stop. But why should it? After all, this is a good thing.

You’re a sucker for any list-based article that uses the word “Font” in the title

Ahem. Well yeah, of course you do. Because who wouldn’t want to read through all the way to check for a free font or two, right? RIGHT? We’ve got your back, because we always have a selection of free goods of the week, which always has a font or two. Enjoy!

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About the Author
Kevin Whipps

Hi! My name is Kevin Whipps, and I'm a writer and editor based in Phoenix, Arizona. When I'm not working taking pictures of old cars and trucks, I'm either writing articles for Creative Market or hawking stickers at Whipps Sticker Co.

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