Managing a LOT of fonts

vraswant's picture

I use font Linotype font explorer and Veenix font tools to manage my fonts. But still it takes forever to go through everything. I have tons of fonts and wanted some suggestions on how others tend to search through their libraries to choose fonts. The best thing i can think of is to manually go through each font and tag meta data for searching. but that would take forever. why aren't tags built into fonts to make it easier?

pattyfab's picture

It does take a long time, but I create sets and then manually put all my fonts into it. Once you've set it up, it's easy to add fonts. Kinda like playlists in iTunes.

My sets are:

check these out (for fonts I want to use soon)
expert collections (for fonts that have the full set)
no idea (self-explanatory)
open type
retro (50s ish)
serif display
serif text

I also have a few foundry sets like emigre and house

My sans set is huge and I may break it down (if I have time) into humanist and geometric.

loremipsum's picture

If you really have tons, maybe it's easier to find fonts by category on sites like and then check in your computer if you have what you need.

Scott Leyes's picture

Indeed... i find myself going to MyFonts more often than ever just to do a quick search for something like "chalkboard" -- when the results come up, I can almost immediately recognize some font(s) I have, then go into Font Agent and activate it/them.

At present, I've got my library organized mostly by foundry... Adobe in one set, Bitstream another, etc, etc. Of course, I had to break my "Web" fonts into multiple sets, and they're still too huge. And I find myself creating job-specific font sets more often than I used to, and keeping them longer -- I keep re-using the "pirate" set I built two years ago.

Organizing by style is one of my laundry-list things-to-do, but I fear I'll never get around to it; my biggest complaint/problem is that you can't permanently (or semi-permanently) tag fonts by style - sets you create in FontAgent/Suitcase/FontExplorer/etc are only good until you trash your system or upgrade... then you've gotta start all over again. The only way I can see to keep style sets organized thru catastrophes is to organize them in the Finder (by folder) in my master sets, but then I lose my foundry organization. And with 10,000+ fonts, I'm loathe to have multiple "master" sets (no pun intended).

pattyfab's picture

You CAN save your Font Explorer sets - go to Configure -> Load and save the file on a backup hard drive. Then when you upgrade or crash you can import it. Could have saved myself a ton of work recently had I known that.

Organizing by foundry generally is less useful for me, as that is rarely my jumping off point when I'm choosing a font for a job. I don't say to myself "I think I'll use something from Emigre" it's more like "what's a good sans I haven't used recently?" or "what's an elegant serif that has an expert set". If I already know which font I want I just type to it. And I don't need job-specific sets anymore with self-activation (altho that isn't working for me in Quark right now). I also tend to leave fonts for current jobs open for the duration of the job.

loremipsum's picture

"why aren’t tags built into fonts to make it easier?"

The fonts actually contain that parameter, I mean PANOSE system codes, and there are font managers that can filter and sort lists using that codes as criteria. Unfortunately, foundries are not consistent in setting that PANOSE parameter.

aluminum's picture

I think the ultimate solution is the same as 'having too much crap in the basement'.

Sometimes you just have to go through it all and throw most of it away.

Sharon Van Lieu's picture

I like Patty's method of organizing but I am intimidated by trying to figure out which font goes in which category. I ended up organizing by foundries. Someday I'll bite the bullet and reorganize using Patty's method.


Bert Vanderveen's picture

How about a virtual iTunes Store, with all the commercial fonts in the world, nicely categorized? Searchable, etc.
The company that would do this right would do right…

. . .
Bert Vanderveen BNO

loremipsum's picture

My sets also correspond to purpose, so they are Text sans, Text serif, Headline, Display - decorative, Display with effects (striped, outlined etc.), Display - distorted, Machine (typewriter, LCD and other device imitations), Script, Non-Latin and Pi fonts. And yes, there are subsets like Neutral, Elegant, Retro, Techno for Text serif, etc. Perhaps it's best to classify every new font acquired, to avoid organizing hundreds at once.

Si_Daniels's picture

>How about a virtual iTunes Store, with all the commercial fonts in the world, nicely categorized? Searchable, etc.

"Coming soon"*

*don't get your hopes up - the page has been there for nearly five years :-(

pattyfab's picture

With Zapfino no less. No thanks!

mosh's picture

I use the Explorer for that plus a normal font viewer. I create folders and sub-folders with my own classification system, so it's really easy for me to navigate to the desired category and then use the normal font viewer to preview the fonts.

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