Fonts are complete sets of numbers, letters, and special characters all in the same type style. You typically don’t think of fonts as being particularly exciting, and you might not even consider them when designing your presentation, but they can be vitally important as an element because they create a unified look and feel for your brand.
Great fonts can make your digital signage even more engaging, and you can tie specific fonts to your brand. Fonts vary in many ways, including italics, cursive, bold, serif (tiny projections off of type), or sans-serif (without the small projections). There are specialized fonts that simulate handwriting, old-English, and even graffiti styles. Some fonts are designed to evoke certain feelings in customers and can signal details about the brand. Fonts can indicate that a brand is playful, serious, feminine, masculine, traditional, modern, and so on. Font strategy, or knowing when, and how, to use fonts is a vital design skill.
Fonts and Copyright Law
There is a bit of a legal gray area surrounding the reproduction of fonts and their use in a commercial project. For this discussion, “commercial” means you can use the material for sales and marketing. Generally, almost all kinds of typefaces are exempt from the United States’ Copyright laws and are considered part of the public domain. The public domain designation means that you’re almost always free to use fonts for any commercial endeavor. Free use is often not the case for images and written text, which typically needs permission and payment to the creator of the content if you’re going to use it in your commercial projects.
That said, some font creators keep their fonts behind a paywall, so you will have to pay to download and use the fonts. Additionally, some font creators label their fonts as “not for commercial use” or ask that you request their permission before using their fonts for commercial purposes. You don’t have to worry about this when you’re using the fonts native to your system, though; pay and permission only applies to new fonts you download from sources outside of your presentation software.
How to Change Fonts on Your PC
Microsoft comes with many fonts that are native to their programs like Word and PowerPoint. You can scroll through the fonts that come with Microsoft programs by selecting the font drop-down menu; you also use this menu to change the font that you’re currently using.
Browse a more extensive selection of fonts by typing “font” in the software’s search bar. Searching “font” brings up a list of additional fonts that you can add to your project by clicking the download icon. There are about 70 fonts already installed in Microsoft products, with a little over 200 total fonts, including downloadable fonts from the Microsoft cloud.
Free and Low-Cost Sources for Fonts
The Internet is full of entirely free and inexpensive sources of fun and engaging fonts. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the top free font websites. Different sources have different ways of installing new fonts, but no matter how you install, you’ll likely need to close and open your slide (or word processing) software before the new fonts show up.
1. 1001 Free Fonts
1001 Free Fonts is, true to its name, a source of over ten thousand free fonts. 1001 Fonts sort their types styles both alphabetically and categorically. Some of the categories include alien, Christmas, comic, retro, and more. This system helps select an aesthetic for your presentation. Most of the fonts on the site are free to use for commercial projects, although there are some you must buy the right to if you need to use it in a commercial project. All the fonts on the site give you the option to donate to the font’s creator.
To download and use a font from 1001 Free Fonts: choose your font and select the “download” button. Once you download it, open the font file, click “install” and find the downloaded font. You can then use it like any of your fonts.
This website also gives you the option to download 10,000 fonts all at once for around $20. All fonts in the $20 package are licensed for commercial use.
2. Google Fonts
Google fonts have about 1,000 fonts that each come in several styles. Google fonts are completely open-sourced, which means you can use them for any commercial or private project. To use Google fonts in your project, you will need to download the font, open the zipped file, and move the font file (or files) to your computer’s designated font folder.
There are many more sources for free fonts online, but it’s crucial for you to check and make sure that you’re downloading safe files and that you have permission from the creator to use the font commercially. Have fun playing with fonts and font sets, adjusting the style, and feel to suit your brand’s vibe and message.