After using only free fonts I am now considering using paying fonts for a client of mine. But I realize that although free fonts can be tested at will on one's website, that's not possible with paying fonts.

So how do people deal with this problem? There will be countless cases where a font looks good on the font's site, but then once installed on one's website it doesn't match it so well. Do you just request a refund or something? What is you want to try 2 or 3 paying fonts before choosing the one that best fits your website?

  • I believe you are dealing with a problem that is actually not yours. In my opinion it's the font provider who has to offer try-out methods. I suggest you to contact them directly. I am quite curious about what they have to say. Good question.
    – Slava
    Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 17:35

2 Answers 2


Some services do offer a webfont test drive, and even let you compare different operating systems and browsers. Unfortunately, most (if not all) of them are services that charge a fixed fee to use their web fonts via css.

This is the case with Typekit, where you can see the result for various outputs using Browse Samples:

enter image description here

I had a web project that needed some fonts a while ago, and one of the requirements was support for XP. I used Typekit's preview tool to give different fonts a score (one for each browser and each OS), and compared the overall scores of the fonts I liked in a spreadsheet. The result was quite good, I found some unexpected issues and some really polished renderings. I haven't found a similar feature in other sites like MyFonts, Fonts or Linotype, and that's one of the reasons I prefer to test in Typekit first (because of the comparing thing).

Webtype, on the other hand, also has a live preview option. What you see in the Specimens is an actual rendering of the font (using CSS' text-rendering: optimizeLegibility;). So if you have access to browsers and OSs, you can test them by reloading the site.

Something you might find useful is Fontdeck. They have a plan that lets you download samples of fonts to use via css in your site (if you want to use them 'for real', the service costs something like $18 a year).

This article in Smashing Magazine lists other font embedding services.

Now, if you are interested in comparing fonts that come with the OS (or Google fonts), you can use an online rendering testing tool like Typetester. Or, if you have the font already, something like Web Ink or Ffffallback.

  • That's not really an applicable example. Museo Slab is a free font, and TypeKit only has a limited selection of fonts.
    – user9427
    Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 22:04
  • @Derek that was just the first font I clicked on (edited). From the services I know, these are the ones that let you preview the fonts. Most of them only sell the service of using their fonts via css and not the fonts themselves, but that's as close as it gets. Hopefully someone else will know of an alternative.
    – Yisela
    Commented Oct 3, 2013 at 22:19
  • Thanks a lot Yisela. Unfortunately my client wants a font that he purchases once and for all as opposed to a service to pay on a permanent basis.
    – drake035
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 14:58

If you have the font on your computer but you don't have a webfont license for it, then here are a few suggestions:

  • Test the font on the web page using local files on your computer, rather than uploading it to the server. You don't need a web font license if the only copy of the font is on your desktop computer.

  • Use the service fontdragr.com - it has a bookmarklet that allows you to test any font on any website, previewing the result locally on your computer (so without the need to upload the font to a server).

    Just go to the website of choice, open the fontdragr bookmarklet, and drag-and-drop TTF files from your computer onto the website.

  • If you want to share the results of this with your clients or other designers, take a screenshot of the page and send them the screenshot. You're not infringing a font license by sharing a screenshot of a webpage containing the font.

If you don't even have a desktop version of the font at all, then you could buy one - a desktop version of the font is low cost and one-off.

Or if you don't want to spend money testing at all, then you're basically at the mercy of whatever "test drive" methods that the font foundry or reseller provides to you.

It is important to test the actual font rendering in various browsers as it differs between browsers, so make sure you don't base your decision solely on image-based renderings of a font on the font reseller's website.

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