Most fonts are licensed when needed, selected specifically for the job at hand. But when my (less font-addicted) friends are seeking versatile, workhorse typefaces for future use, I send them this list.
- Adobe Originals (via Adobe Fonts, Creative Cloud, Font Folio [Educational], or Fontspring)
- Commercial Type Webfonts: download for self-hosting
- Dutch Type Library Webfonts: download for self-hosting
- FontFont Webfonts: download for self-hosting
- Font Bureau Webfonts: via the Type Network service
- Frere-Jones Webfonts: download for self-hosting
- Hoefler & Co. Webfonts: via the Cloud.typography service
- House Industries Webfonts: download for self-hosting
- Klim Webfonts: download for self-hosting
- Lineto Webfonts: download for self-hosting
- Process Webfonts: download for self-hosting
- Type By Webfonts: download for self-hosting
- Typofonderie Webfonts: download for self-hosting
- Typotheque Webfonts: via the Typotheque service
- Underware Webfonts: self-hosting or via the Webtype service
- Fontstand — This platform for testing and renting desktop fonts includes a highly selective group of high quality foundries.
- Future Fonts pioneered a new model for buying type: pay a low price for fonts in progress, get free updates as the fonts develop. It’s a brilliant way to invest in young talent and encourage type designers to take more risks with their ideas.
- I Love Typography — The latest “one-stop shop” retailer has done well to balance volume with thoughtful foundry curation.
- Type Network – A retail collaboration created in 2016 by Font Bureau designers, several of which now offer their fonts through their own foundry labels within the Type Network “mall”, each with their own storefront. The group of foundries is gradually expanding beyond the Font Bureau members, and all the fonts are of a professional caliber.
- Village — This is a boutique retailer with 11 foundries, mostly on the high end of the quality spectrum.
- MyFonts and Fontspring — Because these are retailers with liberal acceptance policies, the quality of type available at these sites varies widely. MyFonts is by far the largest and longest-running online font retailer, so it has a much larger selection and better browsing and sampling; but Fontspring is an up-and-coming challenger that offers foundries a much higher percentage of sales revenue. As an entry point into their vast collections, here are my personal recommendations at Fontspring and MyFonts.
Of course, there are dozens of reputable outfits that make and sell good fonts. It’s almost irresistible to list every little foundry I love, but most of them are available via one of these outlets and a set of links longer than the one above is often more overwhelming than useful. Think of this list as a shopper’s starting point for building a lasting typographic toolset. These sites offer most of the best fonts available, and — crucially — present them well, too.
The focus here is on downloadable desktop fonts for print use, but most of these shops offer webfonts as well, either through a hosted service or as a self-hosted download. Noted next to each provider is the kind of webfont licensing they offer.
Speaking of typeface recommendations, our very own Typographica.org reviews are also a good introduction to a few of the best new typefaces. After an unforgivable two-year hiatus, we’re wrapping up the 2011 edition now.
July 1, 2013 – Updated with webfont licensing info.
May 30, 2015 – Updated to include Fontstand and other changes.
July 4, 2022 — Added I Love Typography. Removed FontShop (now effectively replaced by MyFonts) and Typekit (replaced by Adobe Fonts).