7 Font Management Practices You Should Know

By on May 24, 2016 in Tutorials
7 Font Management Practices You Should Know

Font management tools will find, preview, organize, install, and print fonts at your command. Typically, they are used to install or uninstall fonts on computers.

If you are around here for long, you’ll notice that we sell many beautiful fonts, and you will take a liking to them. Any clever designer could tell you that assets like these are wasted if you don’t keep track of them. Organizing them like your music collection is mission critical. Here are a few tips for managing your font library.

1. Organize Your Fonts by Style

I typically use names for my collections that make sense to me, like ‘Elegant’, ‘Weathered’, and ‘Tall & Skinny’. Based on the designs I frequently create, I manage fonts into collections. Handpicking fonts for new projects is a fluid process. Just to save sanity, I keep 20 or less fonts in each collection, as to hone their relevance.

2. Pick Some Favorites

Always keep a collection of your favorites, ready to pull from at any moment. Fonts like these get their own collection in the font manager, no matter what their style. If I have favorites, I don’t want to lose track of them someday when I have a memory lapse and I’m in a hurry to pick a font for tight deadline.

3. Delete Duplicates and Junk Fonts

Sometimes we designers let some dumb fonts into our collection at a moment of weakness. But after we’ve had a good night's sleep, we should know a dud when we see it. Permanently delete the crufty fonts and duplicates, as they are dead weight and lengthen lists of fonts for you to needlessly sift through.

4. Never Delete the Fonts That Are Preinstalled

As much as you despise Comic Sans, it’s better to not break your computer in an all-ought font purge. Many of the fonts are required by operating systems to do their thing without going into cardiac arrests, so its better to leave the preinstalled fonts in the manager and deactivate them to suit your tastes.

5. Give Royal Treatment to Highly Readable Fonts

Readability should be priority #1. The sensational Giddyup Std typeface might tantalize you, but you won’t find nearly as many use cases for it as you will for something like Glober. Since this is the case, maybe you should deactivate Giddyup, and create a unique font collection called ‘Readable’, as to quickly showcase the cream of the crop.

6. Don't Install Fonts in Multiple Formats

They are basically duplicates and meaningless, but they also cause glitches. If you have Dumbledor 1 in TrueType, you really don’t need it in OpenType. It’s apt to cause technical difficulties, as it has for me in the case with many fonts over the years.

7. Learn What Fonts Your Peers Love

Many times, I want to grab a new font for a very specific style, and the guy on the other side of Skype already knows of three that would work perfectly. Humbly ask, share with them what are some of your top fonts, and spread the font love.

Learn By Doing

Font management is one of those tasks that is best learned by doing it. The most important thing you can do is get started. Just remember to have fun and enjoy the fonts you keep around.

Questions: What questions do you have about font management? What would you recommend to font power users in-the-making?


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JoeDarnell

Joe Darnell

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Joe is a UI and graphic designer with prior experience as the creative director for three media-based businesses. He has a passion for both web design and graphic design with about 15 years of experience in the media industry. Joe likes delighting people and making ideas and things simpler for them.

28 Comments

  1. creativenauts

    Skyfonts is all I use now. Haven't had a single issue with fonts ever since making the switch.

    Note: If you use software such as CC Cleaner, you will want to exclude skyfonts folders from getting swept.

  2. creatifolio
    • Staff

    Interesting rundown. What do people use for system font management? I use FontCase, but sadly it's no longer made.

  3. dianafadal

    It would be cool to see a blog post on fonts that are paired well together, and maybe a history on the rise of Hipster fonts such as the Janda Elegant Handwriting font sensation - that could be fun :) I thought this was very helpful, though!

  4. JoeDarnell

    Thanks, Diana. I'm working on a post about well-paired fonts, but it is deep in research and I'm not sure when that article will see the light of day.

    As for the hipster font trend, there is another post here that addresses the trendiness of vintage logos, which is related to hipster fonts, you could say: https://creativemarket.com/blog/7-vintage-logo-design-trends. I know its not the exact same subject, but its a good read too.

  5. chocwrap

    So what do people use to manage their fonts? It would have been helpful to know this. I currently use nothing but it's driving me nuts! :D

  6. JuliaBausenhardt

    For font management I've been using Font Explorer Pro for some years now, but I might look into alternatives soon, it sometimes acts like a drama queen (but apart from that I have created pretty elaborate categories for that thing, so a change would be much work).
    And I say delete Comic Sans every day anew if you need to...it will come back and attach yourself to your computer anyway like a bad case of malaria.

  7. JoeDarnell

    @Caroline Jones I prefer to keep my workflow as simple as possible, as to avoid app/program fatigue of any sort. So, I use the Font Book app that comes with Macs. By default, it gives you basic organization of fonts on a Mac, and let's you customize the organization as much as I care to.

    I’ve asked friends with Windows computers what they would recommend, and no one wanted to give a definite recommendation on their platform. But I notice that some of these commenters here are mentioning their preferred solution, so I would check those out for starters.

  8. FilterGrade

    Never been very good with font management. So glad you shared these tips! Going to dive into my Font Book app today and look around/clean things up.

    Thanks for sharing @Joe Darnell

  9. beto

    I use Fontcase for management, I manually add the font and try to organize into collections the best I can, but I have way too much fonts.

    Fun Fact: I get asked A LOT about the fonts on my item previews, so I guess I can check number 7 as done :D

  10. JoeDarnell

    @Beto Alanís I should say so! I have been asked over the years for the products I've designed. The products I've made have mostly been for educators, and they have want to know if they could use them for the covers of products, sites and the like.

  11. jimkidwell

    Well, this is a fun start, but not really much when it comes to the details, especially when you end up having thousands of fonts. I'd recommend reading the font management best practices guides from Extensis: http://www.extensis.com/fmbpg

  12. CindyS

    Maybe it's obvious to everyone except me, but what it the best way to manage fonts across multiple computers. There are three of us in our work group. We have a large collection of fonts on our server (some dating back to the 1990s). We use Apple's Font Book. Each of us manage our fonts individually so not every computer has exactly the same fonts. We often run into issues with similar but not identical versions of fonts (like varied versions of Gill Sans families) when files are opened by a different designer in the group. This isn't a big problem but it is irritating when it occasionally happen. And recommendations?

  13. FeatherandSage

    Hmmm, never tried a font software management system. I simply use a very non high tech method where I have a well organized PSD file that I keep updated, and open when I'm working on projects. I only list Commercial Use fonts displaying the name, and sample of the font, organized by headings like: Top Fonts, Serif, Slab Serif, San Serif, Script, Vintage, Hand Drawn, Dingbats,etc. I also have a separate PSD file where I list my top font pairings. This method just seems to work for me, and has helped speed up my workflow.

    Great post, and tips... I'll definitely check out all the resources listed. Thanks for sharing!

  14. mmmedia

    A really handy (and free!!) font management for Windows is AMP Font Viewer: http://www.ampsoft.net/utilities/FontViewer.php

    I've used this little program for years, and managed 3000+ fonts with it, in close to 30 self named categories. Hugely helpful, and simple to use. In addition to defining your own sample and quickly trying out the font in a sandbox, you can specify font colour and background as well, which is handy for a quick and dirty tryout of different combinations. Well worth a look for those who've never tried font management before. :)

  15. Leiza

    So currently my font xplorer says I have 1410 fonts installed....and I don't think it is accurate. I know I know... I have a problem! :-) I am using the free version so I haven't gotten into much categorizing but I feel it would make my searches so much more productive than trying to scroll through 1000+ fonts when I know a basic look I am going for in specific jobs.
    Thanks for helping jumpstart my font organization quest for my font addiction.

  16. tori.williamson.564

    WOW....I was so happy to read this as I have had the exact same thoughts in my head but I just wasn't sure if I was planning this out correctly. I had no clue how people organize fonts so I just planned to do what I thought would work for me....every single step here is what I had planned. I looooooove Diana's idea to have a list of fonts that play nice together. Maybe if we all contribute lists of fonts we have found to work well together, Joe can sift through them and work up a list from the suggestions we submit to him.

  17. almost_hectic

    Suitcase Fusion 4 here, does not work like its supposed to and its an issue I deal with daily :(

  18. obmaljt

    Nexus is a good utility - and free. I've made real good use of it; with over 10,000 fonts in various places. I'm looking to take that next step and have some functionality with the Adobe CC suite. I've not made a final decision - but the extensis platform is looking good.

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