Making the decision to purchase a font face

Choz Cunningham's picture

This is a questionaire to all the graphic designers and layout artists that actually use and purchase display fonts:

1) Do you ever purchase fonts before you know what (paying) project they will be applied to?

2a) Are you more inclined to purchase where you see a large family of weights, styles and cuts available?

2b) If so, do you prefer to purchase them all in one?

Are the following important when deciding between fonts:

3) International accents & alphabets (European, Greek, etc.)
4) Alternate characters (swash '&', ornamented letters)
5) Additional glyphs (archaic letters, dash suites)
6) OpenType "typographics" (alt. punctuation for caps, smart fractions)
7) OpenType "neatos" (random alternates, automated ligatures)

8) What other features strongly affect the decision? Price? Support? License choices? Anything else?

dan_reynolds's picture

I only do occassional graphic design work at the moment, but I have worked for a few bigger firms, who each had purchasing and IT departments, who all had their say in fonts. Anyway, here are my answers.

1) Do you ever purchase fonts before you know what (paying) project they will be applied to?

Yes. I have almost only bought licenses for specific projects. It is a nice bonus that I get to use the fonts later on in the future. But when I think font licensing, I think short term use, i.e., the next project.

2a) Are you more inclined to purchase where you see a large family of weights, styles and cuts available?

Sort of. That depends what you mean by large! A family needs to have a few weights and variants for me. But 20? or 200? Not really, especially since I get fonts for specific projects, so I tend to know which weights I'll probably need.

2b) If so, do you prefer to purchase them all in one?

Yes.

Are the following important when deciding between fonts:

3) International accents & alphabets (European, Greek, etc.)

A few years a go, no. But now, it is paramont. Since I'm working in Central Europe, Eastern European accents are a requirement. Plus, staring Jan. 1, 2007, the EU will have three official writing systems in it (Latin, Greek, and Bulgarian Cyrillic).

4) Alternate characters (swash ‘&’, ornamented letters)
5) Additional glyphs (archaic letters, dash suites)
6) OpenType “typographics” (alt. punctuation for caps, smart fractions)
7) OpenType “neatos” (random alternates, automated ligatures)

I love these, but they are never the deal maker or breaker for me.

Miss Tiffany's picture
    1) Do you ever purchase fonts before you know what (paying) project they will be applied to?

Yes.

    2a) Are you more inclined to purchase where you see a large family of weights, styles and cuts available?

Variety is always a good thing. But depending upon the family and use it is sometimes unnecessary.

    2b) If so, do you prefer to purchase them all in one?

If I can afford it at the time I will license the entire family as in the long run it would be more expensive to license them bits at a time.

Are the following important when deciding between fonts:

    3) International accents & alphabets (European, Greek, etc.)

Greek and Cyrillic are a different issue, but I think the type designer is being lazy if they can't at least include all/most diacritical marks. (Is that mean?)

    4) Alternate characters (swash ‘&’, ornamented letters)

Depends upon the typeface. Sometimes the design is screaming for more, but I think this is a very subjective thing.

    5) Additional glyphs (archaic letters, dash suites)

What do you mean by dash suites? Em and En dash? This again is a subjective thing and more of a specific need for a specific project. No?

6) OpenType “typographics” (alt. punctuation for caps, smart fractions)

More and more I want OpenType. Especially if the family has small caps and extended ligature features.

    7) OpenType “neatos” (random alternates, automated ligatures)

This seems backwards somehow.

    8) What other features strongly affect the decision? Price? Support? License choices? Anything else?

The license of course. But again, if I license from a foundry with a very restrictive EULA I can only use the font in certain instances.

Haeleth's picture

1) Do you ever purchase fonts before you know what (paying) project they will be applied to?

Yes. I pay for quality type for personal projects as well.

2a) Are you more inclined to purchase where you see a large family of weights, styles and cuts available?

Not directly; most of my projects only need a couple of styles. I suppose having a larger family makes it more likely that the styles I need will be there, so it helps indirectly.

2b) If so, do you prefer to purchase them all in one?

I'll buy a full family if it's one I expect to use a lot, or if I need enough that the full family is not significantly more expensive. Otherwise, no.

3) International accents & alphabets (European, Greek, etc.)

Accents are important, but the only non-Latin writing system I use much is Japanese, and I certainly don't expect Western type designers to support that. :)

4) Alternate characters (swash ‘&’, ornamented letters)
5) Additional glyphs (archaic letters, dash suites)

Usually unimportant.

6) OpenType “typographics” (alt. punctuation for caps, smart fractions)

Convenient, but not essential. With the lengths of text I work with, it's just as easy to tweak things by hand.

7) OpenType “neatos” (random alternates, automated ligatures)

Largely irrelevant to me. (I'd include standard ligatures in "typographics" myself, so I assume you mean fancy ligatures here.)

8) What other features strongly affect the decision? Price? Support? License choices? Anything else?

The EULA. Restricting embedding is a big minus, permitting modification is a big plus.

John Nolan's picture

I buy fonts without knowing what I'm going to do with them all too frequently. I seldom buy large families since I find I don't use the full range.

European, including Eastern Europe, support is important to me, and I have set a few phrases in Greek, so that's nice, but not really too important to me.

I'm a sucker for Opentype features, and wouldn't buy a text face that didn't have smallcaps and osfs available.

The EULA is very important to me. If embedding isn't allowed, I won't buy. I really want the right to make modifications for my own use.

I'm not in the least interested in faces that have smallcaps and ligatures in separate fonts unless the EULA permits modifications, in which case I'll gladly make an OT version for myself.

If there is an OT version, I might consider a face with a EULA that restricts modifications, but even then I'm leery.

Choz Cunningham's picture

These are interesting responses. I predicted a few quite wrongly. It sounds like internationalization is as important to others as it to me, for a variety of reasons. A lot of the other features I asked about sound more important to someone formatting an entire book, than to a designer laying short work ion display text?

I don't see the harm modifications could do in a purchased font. Presumably, releasing any modifications as a packaged font file is usually condemned by earlier terms of a license. Is this really a common problem? It seems like a worthless clause, since one could simply modify graphics in front or behind the font output, anyhow, to achieve the same effect. Are small foundries commonly overly-restrictive?

Would purchasers be interested in the same font (or family) with different licenses for different prices? Or is that confusing?

Choz Cunningham
!Exclamachine Type Foundry
http://www.exclamachine.com

Syndicate content Syndicate content