Free Downloads of Famous Fonts

By: Charles Bowen

Over the last six years, this column has been mostly dedicated to the Word People, such as research tools for beat reporters, cool subjects for feature writers, idea generators for assignment editors, and editing resources for the hard-working desk jockeys who massage the copy. But let’s not forgot that the Web also has useful tools for graphics staff, some real time-savers for those needing to create page layouts and illustrations for stories.

For instance, a site called Famous Fonts can help your art staff identify and simulate more than 300 typefaces from all corners of popular culture, everything from fast food to the movies to automobile models. Some are simply identified, but a remarkable number are available for downloading in TrueType (TTF) format. To check it out, visit http://www.smackbomb.com/famousfonts/index.html, where the home page identifies typefaces from TV shows, movies, music, food and drink, publications, games, automobiles, sports, and companies and organizations. Also you can scroll the introductory page to see a hyperlinked list of the latest additions to the database.

Click on a category and a resulting page offers a linked alphabet to help you zero in on the font you seek. It also provides samples of fonts in the section of the database you’re currently examining. When you find a font of interest, click on it and follow on-screen instructions for downloading it to your machine.

As noted in the online help file (called “How to Use Famous Fonts”), all the site’s fonts — gathered from around the Internet and presented as either freeware or shareware — are zipped. If you’re not using Windows XP, you’ll need WinZip or PKZip to access them. Just extract the TTF files into your C:windowsfonts folder.

Note that some fonts are copyrighted and not permitted to be distributed freely. “In this event,” notes the site managers, “we have still displayed the font along with what it’s famous for, but are not offering it for download. When possible, we provide a link to the manufacturer or somewhere else you can purchase the font in question.”

As cited in Famous Fonts, here are some other useful online fonts resources:

1. Luc Devroye’s Font Info (http://jeff.cs.mcgill.ca/~luc/fonts.html) has put together a particularly informative site, with material ranging from hundreds of links to free downloads to general information about fonts and the industry and even its history.

2. Got questions about copyright and fonts? Font Foundry Myths (http://www.ssifonts.com/Myths.htm) is Southern Software Inc.’s interesting discussion of common myths and misunderstandings about fonts, typefaces and copyrights. For more, see Frequently Asked Questions About Fonts: Are Fonts Copyrightable? (http://nwalsh.com/comp.fonts/FAQ/cf_13.htm). Here you’ll find additional information on fonts, typefaces and copyright issues as they pertain to the United States.

3. For even more font sites and material, see Famous Font’s collection of links at http://www.smackbomb.com/famousfonts/links.html.

You can read the last 20 “Reporter’s Digital How-to” columns on our index page.

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