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?

  • Define "evaluate." Are you asking about whether it's appropriate? whether it will fit? about the style? Feb 13, 2015 at 14:37
  • @LaurenIpsum Can it be all three factors you mentioned here; to achieve a good evaluation? I think the point here is that, as a newbie I don't even know what factors I need to use to evaluate a font design.
    – o-0
    Feb 13, 2015 at 14:42
  • @DaveRose I edited your question to try and better state where you're currently at. Please feel free to edit it again to describe your questions better than I did! Feb 13, 2015 at 14:57

2 Answers 2


There are several ways to go about doing this. In any case you should definitely purchase the font before using it in a final product. Creating quality fonts can take a lot of time.

The first way is to find the font online for sale and use the foundry's font previewer to test out the words you want to use and see how they will look.

The second way is to use the foundry's website to create a preview for the font and then download the preview as an image from your browser to use as a comp in your design. (You can also vectorize the downloaded image using Illustrator or Vector Magic)

The third way, which is questionable from a license standpoint, is to find the commercial font online for free download. Once you have tried the font, make sure to purchase it legally before using in any final product.

  • The third method is questionable even apart from legal considerations. Pirated fonts have often been mangled by whatever process was used to extract them, so the kerning may be spoiled, the encoding scrambled, etc.
    – Thérèse
    Jun 28, 2017 at 3:50
  • Very true. I really don't like the third option much, but thought people should know it's possible.
    – zachzurn
    Jul 8, 2017 at 21:50
  1. Identify what characters you need. Mathematical symbols? Ancient greek? A really neat ampersand (&) character? Other miscellaneous symbols?
  2. Identify the font style you'd like to use - sans-serif (like Helvetica) or serif (like Times New Roman).
  3. 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.
  4. Identify the feeling or concept you want the font to help convey - quirky, funny, scientific, serious, meaningful, utilitarian, etc.
  5. Now that you have your list of needs and wants, start looking.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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