My Favorite Font Sources: A Shortlist of Trusted Foundries and Retailers

Written by Stephen Coles on December 30, 2011

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.


  • 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 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).


  1. Josh Farmer says:

    What about Underware and TypeTogether?

  2. The goal of this list is to be as concise as possible. Like many other foundries that aren’t listed, Underware and TypeTogether are both top-notch with only good stuff in their libraries, but because their fonts are available at FontShop, MyFonts, and Village (Underware), they don’t get a place on this shortlist. If they offered something extraordinary and exclusive on their sites I would consider mentioning them separately. Meanwhile, you’ll find many of their typefaces are represented in my favorites on MyFonts.

  3. Josh Farmer says:

    Ah, that makes perfect sense. In hindsight, silly question. Sorry. And, I did notice that as I made my way through your list of favorites.

  4. Brittany Nutt says:

    This was very useful. I never realized how many font websites there were. The one I only really new of was This will definaitely help me with college projects and my career after school.

  5. Laura Hutchison says:

    What about YouWorkForThem? I find them to be much nicer than the MyFonts site you mention.

  6. YouWorkForThem offers many of the same fonts available at MyFonts. Those that they offer exclusively are not good enough to warrant a special mention. The YWFT site itself is aesthetically appealing to many designers, and its functionality is improving, but MyFonts still offers much more information and faster, more flexible sampling — not to mention thousands more fonts of a professional-level quality.

  7. Hubert Florin says:

    Thanks for this, I always go back to this list when looking for a new font to buy. I would only add the absolutely excellent fonts from Jean François Porchez.

  8. Marc says:

    You should definitely check out They are pretty new but they have grown a lot. Their selection is pretty complete, but the real winner is they keep things simple. Licensing is one affordable fee without all the requirements. I have also found their web font hinting to be superior to some of the other distributors.

  9. I’d love to hear what fonts and what distributors you’ve tried. The hinting is going to vary quite a bit at Fontspring as there is no single production flow for every font. Some are probably quite good, as they offer some of the same fonts available at higher end retailers, but many are very poor.

  10. jeffrey says:

    Surely Stone Type Foundry could be included. Cycles, Stone, Magma all are excellent typefaces. It may not be a huge collection, but a very beautiful one.

  11. Terminal Design fonts are only available on the Terminal Design web site. Does that get me on the short list?

  12. I like your stuff, James. I like a lot of stuff from the many foundries who offer fonts only from their own site. But this is still a shortlist. A longlist would be a different thing.

  13. Roberto Bagatti says:

    No Psy/Ops?

  14. Blythwood says:

    I would speak up for Matthew Butterick. Limited range of fonts, of course, but the common-sense licensing terms are likely to be popular with businesses.

  15. House Industries just launched a new website and finally sell webfonts, which means every source in the main list now offers web licensing without the need to email or call.

  16. Ck says:

    I am a designer who creates fonts personally. I am curious if I can distribute the same font through a site such as Fontspring while distributing it with MyFonts.

  17. Absolutely. Neither retailer requires an exclusive sales contract. That typically happens at the foundry level, not the retailer (distributor/reseller) level.

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