Is it correct that, once bought a font, I'm not limited in time or number of projects I can use the font in? Say, I own Helvetica. Does it mean that now I have a right to use it in any of my projects?


Every font publisher has its own license that specifies the conditions of use, number of workstations ("seats") on which the font software may be installed, and the specific restrictions regarding use of the font. I don't know of any commercially sold fonts that restrict the number of projects or pieces in which a font may be used, nor can I think of a reason off-hand why a foundry would impose such a restriction except perhaps in the case of a font that was custom made for a particular customer and project.

There are plenty of fonts out there that don't permit embedding (in a document), however, and almost all font licenses do not permit you to send copies of the font to your friend, your colleague or your print provider, who is expected to buy his or her own license.

Your best bet is to find and read the license for the font you're planning to use.


Well, if you owned Helvetica you could do whatever you wanted to. However, that's not the case. Linotype owns Helvetica. You may however, own a license of that font, which is typically how buying fonts works. Basically, you buy a license for a font and then you have to abide by that license. Most of the time you're free to use the font as you please (as long as you don't redistribute it, resell it or any similar practice).

Generally, when you buy a font, you have permission to use it for commercial projects. However, I would always check the font's license to be sure!

  • 2
    +1 for differentiation between owning a font and owning a license to a font. – Farray May 25 '11 at 16:19
  • In fact, I know the difference, but just my english was not good enough. I knew about licensing, just didn't about it's terms. – creitve May 27 '11 at 21:11
  • I realize this, it was just me trying to be funny but just ending up being lame :] – Hanna May 28 '11 at 0:12

Use cases that I've seen excluded from regular font licences, may need supplementary licences, or at least are worth double-checking on:

  • Web embedding
  • Anywhere the text set in the font is determined by the end user, not the licensor, such as a t-shirt store which allows customers to choose their own message for printing
  • Use in trademarked or other logos

A simple way to think of it is: If you have purchased a license of the font (a copy) and can install it on your computer with the creator's permission, it's yours. You can use it as often as you like in projects, commercial or personal. You cannot supply anyone else with the font however. If a client needs a copy of the font so that they can use it in the future, you'll need to purchase a copy in their name, and charge them for it.


If the typeface has "business" and "personal" licenses and you intend on using it for commercial purposes you should buy the business license. Other that that, you are free to use it commercially (that is the reason most people buy typefaces in the first place).

Before you print your design, you should always convert your text to outlines (unless it features only very popular typefaces), because a printer provider cannot possibly license all typefaces that its clients are using.

  • "If the typeface has "business" and "personal" licenses and you intend on using it for commercial purposes you should by the second type." doesn't sound right. – e100 Apr 2 '12 at 16:49

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