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What Are Open Source Fonts?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2016
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Open source fonts are free fonts made available online that can be used or changed for any purpose, either commercial or non-commercial, without notifying the creators. The most common users of open source fonts are graphic and web designers, but anyone else who wants to add flair to a document or project may use them. Many open source font websites rely on user-generated fonts that are offered to help people find fonts that meet their needs, not to make a profit. The style of open source fonts is varied, and can be normal block text, cursive and fancy, or interesting and weird.

The open source movement is a predominantly online movement that is primarily concerned with open source software. While open source fonts do not receive the same amount of attention, they are equally important for many designers. These fonts follow the open source principle, which means they can be used for any purpose. A designer can use the fonts for commercial purposes, can change the font style, or do anything else, and will never have to inform the font's creator. The fonts are typically free, like most open source tools.

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Most often, the users of open source fonts are designers. Graphic designers can use the fonts with their custom graphics, or type the font into marketing materials such as fliers or business cards. Web designers use the fonts online to create engaging websites. Common users, who just want to make a creative document or make an essay look better, can use such fonts as well.

Open source font websites are normally built through the work of their members. Users, who are typically not looking for profit, can submit their font creations to the website so that other members can download and use it. There is rarely any money made with open source fonts. Some professional designers may use the font as advertising to show others their skills, but some fonts are just made by people who enjoy creating them.

Within the open source font movement, there is no standard style or design. A wide array of different open source fonts exist, including basic block fonts used in regular documents or the body of paragraphs, and eccentric fonts used to quickly grab attention. Since most fonts are created by users and not by companies, there are large differences between each font's style.

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irontoenail
Post 3

@Mor - I actually try to keep a file on hand that lists which fonts I can use in commercial projects and which ones I can't without extra permission. I've found a couple of great apps that will display text on your screen in all the different fonts you have installed, but they don't tend to have that information displayed.

Every time I download a new one I just type it into my spreadsheet and then just search for the name whenever I use one to see what permissions it has.

Mor
Post 2

@pleonasm - Just be careful that you are using fonts that you have permission to use. Just because they are available as open source doesn't mean they are completely copyright free. In some cases the fonts are released for personal use but not for commercial use, or are not intended to be changed or used without attribution.

Most of the time it's easy to set your search so that it only finds public domain or commercially available fonts, or alternatively, you could pay for the privilege of using a particular font the way you need to.

pleonasm
Post 1

I just love the fact that there are so many different kinds of open source fonts available online for anyone to use. I tend to do a lot of graphic design projects and it's so much easier to make them look professional if you can get the right font.

People seem to use the same fonts for almost every project if they are stuck with the ones that came with their software and after a while they become very easy to spot and mark a project as being of slightly lower quality.

It doesn't cost anything more, even in terms of effort, to get a more unique open-source font but it makes a huge difference to the impression it gives.

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