How can a newbie to graphic design like myself evaluate a the technical design of a font before paying for it?
I am unsure as to what things I need to consider and how I can test them without buying it first.
What technical aspects of a font should I check out to gauge whether it’s of a high enough quality to be used for commercial purposes?
- Identify what characters you need. Mathematical symbols? Ancient greek? A really neat ampersand (&) character? Other miscellaneous symbols?
- Identify the font style you’d like to use – sans-serif (like Helvetica) or serif (like Times New Roman).
- Identify whether you need italics, bold, heavy, light, condensed, or extended weights or alternative character styles (small caps, etc.) for the font. Basically identify how much you need the font to do.
- Identify the feeling or concept you want the font to help convey – quirky, funny, scientific, serious, meaningful, utilitarian, etc.
- Now that you have your list of needs and wants, start looking.
- As others noted, many font vendors provide a means for you to test out the font online to see what it can do. Test them against your list above and find out which ones get you all the way there or perhaps most of the way there. If it doesn’t get you all of the way there, consider looking for a second font family that pairs well with the first choice to fill in those gaps and provide a counter-point to your first font.
- I highly recommend reading Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works – this will give you a basic primer on type, the vocabulary used around type and typography, and how to use type.