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I have a number of typefaces for which I'd like to find free or open licence alternatives to. Rather than ask a series of "What is the best open license font to substitute for 'Goudy Catalogue'? 'Univers'? ...?" here or elsewhere on the net it occurs to me that what I'd really like is a typeface/font comparison service similar to http://alternativeto.net/. Does such a beast exist? If not, what is the next best thing?

Background: We have a number of inherited historical projects using fonts we aren't licensed for, and we need to bring ourselves into legal compliance. We don't have the budget to simply purchase all of the fonts used.

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Are you sure about the royalty free bit? Font licences very rarely include anything along the lines of royalties or per-use costs...suspect you mean zero-cost? –  e100 Dec 11 '12 at 23:03
    
@e100, no not sure about the word 'royalty', a badly chosen word (I'll strike it). Zero-cost is best, but not essential. I was going off phrases like "Most standard end user licenses license a font for use on up to five CPUs and one printer within an organization." {emph added,source}. The 5 cpu's or workstations we could live with, not 1 printer though, we have more printers than workstations. –  matt wilkie Dec 12 '12 at 9:01
    
Font licences are notoriously old fashioned and difficult to apply 100% to the real world though - CPU counts are an example of this. Can you give an idea of the kind of scale (number of typefaces, number of workstations) you are talking about? –  e100 Dec 12 '12 at 9:33
    
@e100 4 to 5 workstations, don't have a number of typefaces yet (but getting into that strays from the point of the question anyway). –  matt wilkie Dec 13 '12 at 18:04
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1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted

As far as I'm aware, no. MyFonts.com has a fairly good font recommendation system but they don't do open source.

Your best bet is to identify categories of fonts that you need (eg, Venetian Oldstyle, 19th Century Grotesque, Scotch Roman, etc) then crawl through sites like Font Squirrel and Google Fonts to find the most complete designs.

The price of open source and freeware is that you have to work a little harder ;)

-- Update in response to your update --

No free alternative to a commercial font exists that matches closely enough to simply swap fonts. At least not the legal ones. You have two options:

  1. Bill for your expenses. If these are client projects, work the expense into your fees either up-front with an explanation or over the course of a few projects.

  2. Redesign. For in-house projects or flexible/cheap clients, I would redefine your font specs based on what's available. Find something close, define styles to roughly match the space requirements, search and replace the fonts, and comb through the docs for any problems that may have arisen.

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I usually don't know the font category. This is looking at old project X and trying to bring it into legal compliance; I'll update the question. –  matt wilkie Dec 11 '12 at 19:27
    
@mattwilkie I've fleshed out my answer with your situation in mind. –  plainclothes Dec 11 '12 at 21:37
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