Affordable Font Packs / Bundles

jacobh's picture

I’ve been wondering if any designers or retailers sell affordable font packs or bundles which are worth acquiring for someone interesting in building up a library of fonts for general text setting? I’ve seen a few posts and the Typowiki entry but, on searching around, haven’t found much that is either affordable (say no more than £100) or which isn’t primarily composed of decorative or “special purpose” typefaces (e.g. scripts, blackletter typefaces &c).

Indeed, the only package I’ve found which seems to fit the bill is Adobe’s “Type Basics OpenType Edition” which is about £100 and has a good selection of classic body-text typefaces (e.g. Adobe Caslon, Myriad, Garamond, Gill Sans). The cheaper “[|WebType Pro]” package at about £70 would also be appealing if it had full versions of the typefaces.

I was just wondering if anything else is available from other designers or retailers? I think if you are prepared to spend about £200 or more there is a reasonable selection, but little else in the more affordable category and almost nothing from the major designers. This did make me wonder if the Adobe package is just cheaper because they usually give those fonts away in software bundles, but perhaps I just haven’t been able to find anything...

(For what it’s worth, the reason I am quite cost-concerned is that I am an amateur who would just use them for personal use!)

Any recommendations would be gratefully received!



metalfoot's picture

Look for a cheap edition of Corel WordPerfect or CorelDraw. The fonts aren't primo quality, but they are all licensed, Bitstream fonts. Usually there's a few hundred; certainly enough for most purposes.

Queneau's picture

Or even several of Corels Clipart packages that come with up to 1000 fonts. They may not have all the thrills of fully functioning OT fonts, but they are a very decent quality IMO.

The Adobe package is nice, but a lot of these fonts come with Creative Suite, and are quite overused. But qualitywise they are A+.

Independent type foundry Storm has these packages which are good value. I haven’t tested them, but from what I have heard they are good quality.

Some other foundries offer reletivel cheap original typefaces, like exljbris and DSType. Also see the Specials page on MyFonts for good deals.
URW++ also offers good quality typefaces, often with smallcaps etc. They don’t have OpenType goodies, but they are very priceworthy. For instance check URW Antiqua.

Try to define what kind of typefaces you might need, like a basic set. (Oldstyle Serif, Transitional, Modern, Geometric Sans, Grotesk, Monospaced etc...) Then try to find the original fonts that fit your budget and your wishes.

I am still in the process, and I find it useful to have a backup of decent type for most purposes (like the Bitstream fonts bundled with Corel) and selectively buy other type that I like or need from other foundries, often MyFonts, but also places like YouWorkForThem and Village.

Another Tip:
EF Smart Set 1 for 50 GBP

Queneau's picture

I reread your post. You could probably buy one decent family for around 100 USD, perhaps two, depending on the quality and the features. As mentioned the Adobe package is nice, but as you probably need to license CS somewhere in the future (if you are a designer) it comes with most of these faces.

If you try to find one fixed library for around 100 USD I think the choice is limited, as you say. You could go for quantity and pick up a Softmaker Megafont XXL CD, which is 50 €, has a st%tload of fonts in Truetype format. The quality is pretty decent actually, and several of these fonts come with smallcaps fonts. The names are mostly imaginary, and one could argue about the originality of these fonts, but hey! they are cheap... :|

FontSite fonts are more or less a simular story, though they are slightly more expensive, but in OpenType with OT features like smallcaps or osf. Again: these fonts are often labelled ripoffs with different names. If you are susceptible to this, just leave it, but I have tested the quality of several FontSite fonts and they are good. You could try the freefonts they offer (under downloads) though these are without smallcaps and Osf. Also they are open to questions and are willing to make adjustments. It all depends on what you expect and what you want to pay.

As a start I would suggest to buy yourself some decent fonts (a good serif and a good sansserif for general purposes for starters) and grow along from there.

TurtleType's picture

If you are scouting for a san serif I have found Gibson from Canada Type to be quite nice for the price. It was developed for the cash-strapped student in mind, even though it looks as if it should have a much higher price tag. Plus Canada Type's EULAs and pricing seem to be the most accessible that I have seen.

aluminum's picture

For those of you with good suggestions, please add them to the wiki page!

jacobh's picture

riccard0. I did, and didn’t get very far which is why I made the post! ;-)

metalfoot. Thanks for the suggestion. I might try that, seeing that they sell for very little money on ebay. I’d been a bit wary considering how frequently one requires odd characters in normal text (and I’d read they were rather basic versions) but it might be worth a punt to see what’s there.

Queneau. Again, thanks for the suggestions. I think your post rather highlights what had been confusing me: there are lots of offers for 1,000 fonts (or even 12,222 in that Megafont pack!) for not very much money, or quite a lot of decent fonts for quite a lot of money (e.g. Storm Type has a Sans Megapack including 344 fonts for €398) but almost nothing which includes a few good fonts for a smaller amount of money. I had in mind something along the lines of 12 fonts (e.g. three text faces with R, B, I, BI) at about £10 - 15 each. Something to fill an intermediate step between the free fonts that many places now offer and full-priced professional ones, bought individually.

Looking through your recommendations, Canada Type and elsener+flake sets are along the lines of what I had in mind, so I might think about buying one of those (and the Adobe set, although I appreciate what you say about needing to licence CS eventually).

Incidentally, I had already followed your advice, and bought some full typefaces; it was more an interest in being able to flesh out my library with a few more swiss-army-knife typefaces for when I get bored of those or want to play around with some other ideas!

Thanks again. Any other ideas are very welcome!

Queneau's picture

All Canada Type fonts are 25% discounted at YouWorkForThem, so you might get a good deal there. Gibson is certainly useful, and very cheap for an original modern sans. It does not have osf or smallcaps, but for this kind of font this might not be essential. And with the discount it's only 36 USD! They have some very good display fonts but also some good text families, like Recta, Roos, Semplicita, Ronaldson. I licensed several of their fonts, and they are all of high quality. recommended!

Queneau's picture

Just to provide you with some more info on Megafont XXL and FontSite.

The fonts contained (12.222 is optimistic, this includes modifications (outline, antiqued etc.) which are not ver useful, Central European versions (which only differ in 2 characters I believe, Expert sets (though unnesserary as TrueType fonts can contain up to, what 65.000 characters..., numeral fonts (same)) amount to about 3.500, which can be devided in the following categories:

- Fonts named with a letter + three digit combination plus a generic name (like sans). These are poorly converted (probably back and forth from postscript) with bad outlines and poor spacing. These are not useful at all.
- Fonts with Serial in the name. These are from the Brendel and Pabst collection, also sold, for much more money, as Typeshop fonts. These are basically a normal version of a font with additional weights generated automatically. These fonts have very limited, display use, but it's better not to bother.
- The rest can be broken down in fonts sourced from the old Berthold collection and fonts from URW(++). The fonts from the former are often not useful as they are set way too tightly and the overall spacing and kerning is bad. These usually have a smaller character set. The URW fonts are often given the XXL tag (in the Megafont PDF, one can download it from the Softmaker site). These are the are the most useful set of fonts on the CD. They often have a big character set (with east european characters, ligatures, fractions etc.) and are quite well spaced and kerned. The outlines of these fonts are good, as they were not converted from postscript, like the Berthold ones. If you would buy the CD, it would be for these fonts. Most of these are renamed, but Franklin Gothic, Baskerville, Clarendon, Garamond etc can be found here as well.

As for the FontSite fonts: These are generally the same fonts as the Softmaker ones (they used to work together, so they have the same source) but in OpenType PS format, with OT features like fractions, ligatures, sometimes osf and smallcaps or discretionary ligatures. From a technical perspective these are sound, as they build on a solid foundation. As a backup set they can be used, IMO, but I think beyond that it is better to selectively buy fonts from nice, original foundries (not necessarily the MonoLinoStreamHold Type emporeum, though unfortunately the do have some really beautiful classic fonts...) It just feels better and makes the work more original.

McBain_v1's picture

This thread has been a real treasure find for me.

My system seems to be bogged down with lots of fonts but the vast majority of them seem awful, weird poster styles, scripts and other 'novelty' fonts that I can't fathom why they are there. Is this something that you just get bundled with the MS Office Suite nowadays, a consequence of Word and PowerPoint seeking to exceed their core purposes?

Many of the highly regarded fonts are staggeringly expensive for a rank amateur to obtain (so I'm not) and so the sort of 'value packages' or bundles offered by the likes of Linotype and Monotype are always of interest.

As someone who produces technical reports and letters (1-page up to several hundred) it would be nice to get some guidance about fonts that really work together and compliment one another, e.g. good fonts for headings when paired with a specific font for the body text, headers and footers etc. The Adobe Optical Sizes guidelines were/are enormously useful in this regard. Any pointers on this subject would be very welcome.

Queneau's picture

There are no strict rules on this. It all depends on what you are looking for in style. Is it more scientific or neutral, or can it be more personal. What kind of features does the font need to have (old style figurs, smallcaps, fractions etc) and how many weights. Do you need a serif/sansserif combo or will either one of them do?

I like Cycles by Sumner Stone a lot, which I licensed in three optical weights, for normal and small text and for display. It also combines well with Arepo as a display font. Magma is also very nice if it fits your subject.

Calluna and Calluna Sans are made to work together and come quite cheap. The fonts by Hoftype also seem very nice and complete, and almost all have a free weight so you could play around with this. I love ITC Mendoza a lot as well.

Try to define what you need and want, and what your budget is, then we can give more specific answers.

jacobh's picture

“Many of the highly regarded fonts are staggeringly expensive for a rank amateur to obtain (so I'm not) and so the sort of 'value packages' or bundles offered by the likes of Linotype and Monotype are always of interest.”

I quite agree. I do sometimes wonder whether there is a market for those outside the industry who want to use good quality typefaces. There certainly isn’t any marketing at it at the moment since the prices are so high that only those in the industry (or with very deep pockets) can afford them.

What has often confused me about typeface prices is that if one is mostly buying a licence to use the design of the typeface (rather than just the font software), there is an extraordinary lack of flexibility in the pricing structure and lack of regard to how the fonts will be used. For example, if I want to buy Emigre’s Mrs Eaves, I pay the same irrespective of whether I am an amateur who just want to set my Christmas cards or whether I have been contracted by Bloomsbury to set the next Harry Potter. In the photography world, I think I am correct in saying that you often pay both for the number of machines that you want to use the photo on but also based on how many copies you want to make of the picture and in what circumstances; something very much lacking in the font world.

I think if I could buy a full typeface for about £50, even with a very restrictive licence (not to use it in print-runs over 100, for example), I know I would have bought many more but there are few available in this category. Indeed, I seem to spend far more money on letterpress fonts these days which are, inexplicably, often far cheaper than their digital equivalents...

Queneau's picture

There used to be Fontmarketplace, which had non-professional font buyers in mind, and which offered combined sets of fonts on certain themes, like christmas, and also offered some other fonts for low prices. Though most of these were display faces, they had some good text families as well, from monotype and ascender. Unfortunately Monotype killed of the project (though the site still exists). To my surprise some of these packages are still available at I recommend the Ascender Resume & CV Font Pack which comes with Ellington and Strayhorn, two beautiful display faces by Michael Harvey that are made to work together. There are no OSF or smallcaps, but still, its a really good deal.

Queneau's picture

As for the non-professional font buyers: I don't think this is really an interesting target group for most foundries, especially not for giants like monotype. The market for big corporate licenses is much more lucrative, so this is where the money goes. Sumner Stone has tried a used-based licensing system for a while, though he has reverted to regular prices now, so I guess it did not really work. Some foundries on MyFonts offer a choice between a personal or a commercial license, like Armitage by Dunwich Type. This seems like a good idea, though I imagine it might be difficult to spell out the differences in licensing, and what it can and can't be used for.

Bundled fonts to card making software or other low-budget creative software are more geared towards this sort of non-professional buyer, though this unfortunately also often means non-professional (= crappy) fonts...

Frode Bo Helland's picture

You have to understand there is no need for a gazillion fonts. I recommend taking the time to research and find a handful of types that fit your line of work. If you learn to know them well, they'll repay you the expense.

McBain_v1's picture

Thank you for your helpful responses, they are much appreciated. You are correct in that my post was too vague in terms of what I actually need to be of much use. Approaching this issue as though one were about to issue a brief to a designer type person might be the best way of going about things. I will have a bash at doing so and post it shortly.

@frode frank
Your point about taking the time to find a small number of types that are going to be suitable for my document preparation is well made. Just recently I have come up against some quite demanding requirements (well I think they are anyway) in terms of what can and cannot be allowed when putting reports together like Advice Note 7:

I wouldn't say that this is typical of what I do, but many other documents such as Environment Impact Statements (which is what I am involved in) can run to a couple of hundred pages and are usually written by a range of consultants (each with their own house style).

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