I have noticed that certain applications provide a font sample when you use a drop-down to choose a new font. For example, when I'm working in InDesign CS5 I see what the word 'Sample' looks like in each font, but in Illustrator CS5 I don't.

I can't remember what every font looks like (just those that I use frequently), so my question is: is there a setting or tool that allows designers to see fonts in those popular design programs that don't actively display the samples beside the font name?

  • 1
    I hate this feature in all applications :) – Scott Jan 14 '15 at 17:51

It's rather unfortunate that Illustrator took so long to do font previewing the same way its sister programs did.

However you can still preview fonts in Illustrator (CS5) by going to Type -> Font.

The Adobe Illustrator Font sub-menu

Though the other unfortunate thing is that it seems as though you can't actually scroll with your mouse, you have to click to scroll. In the past I've always kept another program open that could more easily preview fonts and did it that way.

In Illustrator CC you can see the preview directly from the Type toolbar, without having to go to the Type menu.

  • Thank you for the well thought-out reply. I've marked this as correct since you also took the time to screenshot the relevant menu area. – armadadrive Jan 14 '15 at 18:49

In Illustrator CC, they added the ability to preview fonts in the drop down menu of the Type tool, in which you couldn't see a preview in earlier versions, just the font names.

In previous versions however, you can see a preview of the fonts by going into Type > Fonts. It's not a very convenient menu though, as it's not very easy to scroll or find the fonts fast.

If you don't mind using an external tool, I would recommend an excellent tool called NexusFont. It's a free tool that lets you use any font you like without even installing it (this way you won't overload your system by installing fonts you just wanted to try). And it lets you easily organize your fonts by folders and collections, while letting you preview those fonts inside the program. The fonts you choose become instantly available for use in all other programs you have open.


That will depend on your operating system. In windows there a lot of freware programs such as http://fontviewer.net/ , http://www.ampsoft.net/utilities/FontViewerEsp.php , I use http://www.moonsoftware.com/fxplorer.asp

Try googling "font viewer" and take a look of the specific features you need.

Of course always download them from the original site and use your antivirus before installng one.

This is offtopic, but when installing a freeware do not use the "default options" but a personalized instalation, to avoid installing "bars" and adware tools.

  • Thanks - I'm using Windows 8.1 so I'll have a look at those tools. And a nice heads up about adware; I always choose custom installation just in case. ;) – armadadrive Jan 14 '15 at 17:40

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