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38 Typography Tools for Designers (Better Than Adobe Suite)

26 Essential Typography Tools and Software for Print DesignersA Swiss Army knife allows you to do a lot of different things at once (like remove a screw or open a wine bottle), but sometimes what you really need is a strong pair of scissors—a tool that only does one thing, but does it much more simply and elegantly. It’s the same way when working with typography in print design. The Adobe suite is powerful and multifaceted, but when you need to create a new font from scratch or identify the name of a particular typeface, it pays to have a few more specific tools in your toolbox.

We’ve rounded up some of the best typography tools online for print designers. Many of these resources will help you create and manipulate typefaces in a way that’s easier than using Photoshop or Illustrator. We’ve also included unique tools that help you identify and compare fonts, as well as learn more about this timeless art form.
 

Typography Generators for Creating And Modifying Text


1. FontStruct

FontStruct - Build, share, and download fonts
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

FontStruct is a free typography creation kit with a simple editor that makes it easy for you to quickly and easily craft your own fonts. You can save your creations, share them with the Fonstruct community, and even download other members’ shared fonts for use in your print designs.

2. YourFonts (No longer available)

YourFonts - Make your own handwriting fonts
Browser-Based
Cost: $9.95

Design your own fonts based on your personal handwriting with this easy-to-use typography generator. It takes only a few minutes to create a font with up to 200 characters.

3. BitFontMaker2

BitFontMaker2 - tools to create your own font directly in your web browser with an easy pixel-by-pixel editor
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

This updated version of the classic Japanese font creation tool has been revamped for an English-speaking audience. BitFontMaker2 gives you the tools to create your own font directly in your web browser with an easy pixel-by-pixel editor.

4. Fontula

Fontula - An iPad app to create and publish your own true type fonts
Downloadable Application (iPad)
Cost: $4.99

Fontula is a typography maker for iPad that gives you the power to create and publish your own true type fonts using a simple interface. Create your letters by rearranging geometric shapes, then save your work as a TTF file.

5. Fontifier

Fontifier - Your own handwriting on your computer
Browser-Based
Cost: Free to use, $9 to download the font

Fontifier is another typography program that gives you the ability to create fonts from your own scanned handwriting. You can preview the fonts for free and then purchase them for use in your print designs.

6. FontForge

FontForge - create and modify fonts
Downloadable Application (Unix/Linux, Mac, Windows)
Cost: Free

FontForge lets you create and edit postscript, truetype, and opentype fonts. Among other things, what sets it apart is the fact that it’s Linux-compatible, available in many different language, and comes with extensive documentation to guide you through creating the typeface of your dreams.

7. iFontMaker

iFontMaker – The first & fastest font editor for iPad
Downloadable Application (Windows, iPad)
Cost: $4.99 for Windows, $6.99 for Mac

Create your own fonts on either Windows 8 or your iPad using this cool mobile app for freehand font editing. You can alter preexisting glyphs or draw your own from scratch, all with the touch of a finger.

8. Text Fixer

Text Fixer - Online text tools for changing and modifying text
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

Text Fixer has a number of browser-based tools that can help your body text look cleaner by eliminating unnecessary spaces, ensuring an uppercase letter at the start of every line, or arranging your lists in alphabetical order.

9. Fontographer

Fontographer - font editor for designers
Application (Mac, Windows)
Cost: $408.99

Fontographer may have an intimidating price tag, but this powerful typography software from Font Lab was specifically made with graphic designers in mind. With a bevy of special features such as a glyph search tool and character antialiasing, this program lets you both create fonts from scratch and edit existing fonts.
 

Tools for Identifying Fonts


10. WhatTheFont

WhatTheFont - Seen a font in use and want to know what it is?
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

This font identification tool is powerful enough to identify a font from just a picture. This makes it easier for you to identify fonts used in print designs-simply scan or photograph the printed media and upload the image to WhatTheFont for analysis.

11. Identifont

Identifont - Identify fonts by appearance, find fonts by name
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

Identifont is a massive typography database that allows you to search for fonts using several different metrics, including author/publisher or visual similarity to another font. If you’ve seen a font somewhere and you want to know what it was, the site can help you identify it using a series of questions and visual clues.

12. WhatFont

WhatFont Tool - The easiest way to inspect fonts in webpages
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

Have you ever seen an unknown font on a website and wanted to use it in your print designs? This browser add-on allows you to quickly and easily identify any font you see while browsing the web. Just activate the program and hover over the text to find out more about the font.

13. Identify Fonts by Sight

Identify Fonts by Sight - answer questions to ID the name of a font
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

This font identification tool works a little like a game of 20 questions. By providing a few pieces of information about a particular font, the program will output a list of fonts that match your description.
 

14. Serif Font Identification Guide

Serif Font Identification Guide
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

You can quickly and efficiently identify serif-based fonts with this tool. Simply select the elements that most closely match your font, and the program will provide you with a list of possibilities.

Tools for Comparing and Managing Typefaces


15. FontExpert 2014

FontExpert 2014 - Font Manager for Windows
Application (Windows)
Cost: Free

Keep all of your fonts (whether you’ve installed them or not) neatly organized with this useful typeface manager. You can preview fonts before installing them and view advanced properties such as copyright, PANOSE attributes, and more.

16. Tiff

Tiff
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

Tiff is a typography tool that helps to demonstrate the graphical differences between two fonts. Pick a pair of fonts from their massive databank, and the website will display the fonts on top of one another or side-by-side so that you may compare the two.

17. The Web Font Combinator

The Web Font Combinator - Preview font combinations in a fast, browser-based manner
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

This is a web-based tool that lets you pick the best combination of fonts for your headline and body text by allowing you to play with the font style on the website itself. Just click a group of text and use the tools on the bottom of the page to alter the appearance so you can see what combination you like best.

18. Font Browser 2.0

FontBrowser v2.0 - A free online flash application that allows you to preview fonts active on your system
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

Font Browser is a browser-based program with a simple interface that lets you browse through all of the different fonts you have installed on your system and view them at different custom sizes.

19. Font Picker

Font Picker - A simple font app that helps you find the right font for the job
Browser-Based / Downloadable Application (Windows or Mac)
Cost: $3.99 for Windows, $5.99 for Mac

So you’ve downloaded all of our 99 best free fonts for print design and now you can’t figure out which one to use? There’s an app for that! Font Picker shows you all of your installed fonts, letting you eliminate the ones you don’t like until you’re left with the perfect choice.

20. TypeTester

Typetester – Compare fonts for the screen
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

TypeTester is a font comparison tool that goes in-depth, allowing you to compare up to three fonts at once with your own custom text. The fonts are displayed with different settings, so you can see what they look like in bold, italics, caps lock and so on.

21. Flipping Typical

Flipping Typical - Type in the word you want to see and instantly view it set in the typefaces on your computer
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

This font comparison tool lets you view a string of custom text in a variety of different fonts-all of the fonts you have installed on your computer, to be exact. The website displays every font at once on one scrollable page, making inspiration, visual comparison, and searching a cinch.

22. Suitcase Fusion

Suitcase Fusion - professional font manager
Application (Mac, Windows)
Cost: Free trial, $99.95 to buy

Suitcase Fusion is a font manager that integrates directly with the Adobe Suite, allowing you to preview and activate new fonts without leaving any of the Creative Cloud apps. It also comes with a powerful font search tool and side-by-side comparison.

 

Tools for Typography Education


23. Typeography 101 (No longer available)

Typeography 101 - learn history and details about various fonts
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

This informative web application includes several lessons related to several influential typefaces, including history and detailed analysis.

24. Typedia

Typedia - A shared encyclopedia of typefaces
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

Want to know even more about your favorite fonts? Consider this the Wikipedia of typography, except the pages haven’t been written by random strangers on the Internet-the information comes from Typedia’s community of font enthusiasts and experts.

25. Kern Type

Kern Type - the kerning game
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

This online typography tool may seem like just fun and games, but it’s a great teaching tool that trains your eye to look for kerning errors and discrepancies. The objective is to drag the letters on the screen so that the word is perfectly kerned.

26. Typewar

Typewar - font identification game
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

How well do you know your typefaces? Test your skills and train your brain to better identify fonts by sight using this fun typography game. Just click the typeface that you think the letter belongs to.

27. Fonttrainer (No longer available)

Fonttrainer - test your ability to identify fonts

Here’s another find identification game that asks you to match up words in a sentence with the font they’re written in. You can even focus on a particular type of font, like non-serif or Cyrillic characters.

28. LetterMPress

LetterMPress - Experience the art and craft of letterpress
Downloadable Application (Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)
Cost: $9.99 for Mac, $4.99 for mobile

LetterMPress is a typography app and educational resource all about the art of letterpress. This interactive program for Mac and iPad lets you try your hand at creating virtual letterpress designs while also learning the fundamentals of letterpress at the same time.

29. Typography Insight

Typography Insight - News ways of learning and teaching typefaces
Downloadable Application (iPhone, iPad)
Cost: $1.99

This app for iPhone and iPad started as the author’s student thesis. It’s since gone on to be an amazing typography teaching tool that you can pick up and learn from while on the go.
 

Tools for Typography Inspiration


30. Fontli

Fontli - social network for typeface enthusiasts
Browser-Based, Downloadable Application (iPhone, Windows Phone)
Cost: Free

A self-proclaimed “social network for typoholics,” Fontli allows you to upload photos of typefaces found “in the wild” and add descriptive tags. Browse other users’ images to gain inspiration for your own original typefaces.

31. Fontly (No longer available)

Fontly - Collect and share typography all across the globe

Browser-Based / Downloadable Application (Android, iPhone)
Cost: Free

Fontly is like a combination of Instagram and Foursquare for vintage typography design. Not only can you browse a database of interesting typographical print designs found throughout the world, but also find their GPS locations so that you can see them with your own eyes.

32. FontBook

FontBook - An iPad & iPhone app offering nearly one million fonts which can be intuitively spread out, searched, layered, moved, scrolled and combined like a collection of maps
Downloadable Application (iPad, iPhone)
Cost: $4.99

FontBook is an iPad and iPhone app that puts one of the most comprehensive typography reference guides right at your fingertips. This interactive typeface compendium is constantly updated, so you’ll always have the most current information available on the most relevant fonts.
 

Miscellaneous Typography Tools


33. Px to Em

PXtoEM.com - PX to EM conversion made simple
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

There are several different units of measurement for font sizes, so it’s often hard to keep track of fonts measured in pixels, percentages, points and “ems.” This handy program takes the guess work out of converting text sizes to various different units, especially px to em and vice versa.

34. TypeIt

TypeIt - choose a foreign language and easily insert special characters from that language with the click of a mouse
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

It can sometimes be a hassle to type foreign characters when they’re not included on your keyboard and you don’t know the shortcut. Typeit lets you choose a foreign language and easily insert special characters from that language with the click of a mouse.

35. Wordle

Wordle - create beautiful word clouds
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

Create awesome looking word clouds in a snap using Wordle’s easy interface. When you’re done, you can publish it as a PDF to include it in your print designs or add further customization in Illustrator.

36. Ampergram

Ampergram - create typographic compositions with Instagram photos
Browser-Based, Downloadable Application (iPhone, iPad, Android)
Cost: Browser version is free, app is $0.99

This program compiles and arranges images of letters on Instagram, allowing you create unique collages by combining different typefaces. You can even filter by tags to use only a specific type of lettering.

37. FontDoctor

FontDoctor - locate, diagnose, and repair common font problems
Application (Mac, Windows)
Cost: $69.95 for Mac, $49.95 for Windows

FontDoctor comes free when you buy Suitcase Fusion; not only does it help you manage and compare fonts, it can diagnose and repair font files with corruption or other technical problems.

38. Lorem Ipsum Generator

Lorem Ipsum Generator
Browser-Based
Cost: Free

Sometimes when you want to demonstrate a new font to a client or add typography to a design template without using specific text, it helps to use lorem ipsum, the industry standard for “filler” writing. This web tool gives you a quick and easy way to generate as much lorem ipsum as you need.

 

More Print Typography Resources


Typographica – This site features enlightening reviews of classic and modern typefaces as well as books related to typographic design.

Graphic Design Forum (Typography) – A forum community featuring tools, tips, and tutorials to enhance your type.

Print Magazine (Typography) – A bimonthly publication featuring typeface news and reviews from seasoned typography experts.

I Love Typography – This site “brings the study of typography to the masses” with the latest font news, interviews, and articles covering the basics of designing with type.

Conclusion

Don’t forget that these typography tools are just that—tools. You’ll only get something out of them if you’re willing to put in some work. Use these programs to educate, explore and experiment with typography so that when it comes time to create your print design, you’ve got the abilities necessary to bring your vision to life.

Is there a typography tool that you think all print designers ought to know about? What’s your favorite piece of typography software? Leave your comments below; we want to hear what you have to say!

Vladimir Gendelman
Author: Vladimir Gendelman

As CEO of CompanyFolders.com, Vladimir is a knowledgeable authority in print marketing and graphic design for businesses. With his team of designers and experts, he helps customers put forth the best possible impression with high-quality collateral. Learn more about Vladimir’s history and experience, and connect with him on Google+ and Twitter.

Discussion

  1. Hi

    You can add http://www.fontark.net to this fine list.
    It’s a new innovative browser-based type-design and font-creation tool, with unique Full-real-time-multiple-glyphs-synchronization system.

  2. Very good article. I definitely love this website. Thanks!

  3. Great list… I suggest wordmark.it as well! This site gives you a preview of your text in the fonts you have loaded on your computer. Filters and prints, too!

  4. Sarah Reinhardt says:

    Thanks for the extensive and useful list. http://www.fontpunk.com is a nice utility that allows you to play with your fonts by adding all sorts of effects to them. Its more for amateurs but free and no registration is required.

  5. Awesome list of typography apps list but some needs update. I use (http://editphotosforfree.com/photoapps/typography-maker/) which is very customizable and easy to use for advanced typography maker or text art.

  6. Thx for the list, please consider our tool http://www.typographyeditor.com/ for inclusing.

    Typography Editor (http://www.typographyeditor.com/) is an online tool to create typographic images and posters for free. It is fast and easy to learn and has all the must have tools.

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