Ask DN: How do you mock up work with fonts you don't own?

7 years ago from , Digital Designer at FEED

Hey, So I was just wondering how people would go about creating pitch work with fonts you don't own? Say I'm working on a pitch for a print project, and I believe a certain typeface will work really well for it. Have I just got to take the chance and fork out for it, hoping that the client will love it too? Or are there any try before you buy platforms?

Many Thanks Nath


  • Todd Padwick, 7 years ago

    I download a font for free using this link https://www.google.co.uk/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=fontName+%22parent+directory%22+otf+OR+ttf+OR+fonts+-html+-htm+-download+-links

    It finds source directories containing your font. (replace the 'fontName' bit at the front of the link).

    IMPORTANT - I don't approve of stealing fonts. So I simply use this for mocking up work, and then if I decide the font is appropriate for the project, I then purchase it. Please do not exploit this link. If you use a font you've downloaded commercially, make sure you buy a legitimate license for it.

    28 points
    • Geoff Yost, 7 years ago

      I think all designers have done this at some point or another, and it definitely works. I'm guilty, too. But it's bad practice. Thanks for your disclaimer.

      To add: There are so many talented type designers that deserve payment for their work. I understand the allure, and the ease, but as a community, we should never advocate this practice and should do our best to squelch its use. It delegitimizes the work of these designers, even if our intentions are good, to buy it later, and only use it in a mockup.

      There are too many whose actions may quickly become habits that slide beyond the measure of good intent. We don't want our clients playing fast and loose with our intellectual property and creative output; we shouldn't be doing the same with our fellow designers, either.

      5 points
    • Moma VujisicMoma Vujisic, 7 years ago

      Adding to this, you would be amazed how many commercial fonts you can find on Github using a similar approach.

      Of course I don't advocate stealing fonts for commercial work – but it does admittedly work, when doing mockups and you want to quickly see if a font fits before going through the hassle of purchasing/etc.

      7 points
    • Kemie GuaidaKemie Guaida, 7 years ago

      Geez, never imagined so many people put up fonts on public directories!

      1 point
    • Cihad TurhanCihad Turhan, 7 years ago

      Wow that's smart. I'm not sure "parent directory" is suitable for both apache and nginx servers

      1 point
    • Daniel GoldenDaniel Golden, 7 years ago

      Whoa, I'd love a quick breakdown of the google search techniques used here.

      0 points
    • Tyson KingsburyTyson Kingsbury, 7 years ago

      been using that for several years now as well...someone posted it on QBN/Newstoday's 'Useful thread' years ago.... and maaaaan, is it ever useful.... I was doing some mockups for a big telco a few years back...needed their custom font, but realized it would probably take a few days to get it through our contacts there....used that link and had it in seconds....works like a charm....

      • that said, I agree with you 100%....i only use it for mockups etc...as soon as a project goes into production, we purchase all materials like fonts etc.... If i want someone to pay me for MY time and effort, it only makes sense to do the same for others....
      1 point
  • jj moijj moi, 7 years ago (edited 7 years ago )

    I buy the fonts. Using fonts on a pitch is using it commercially. I account the cost in the pitching fee or office equipments.

    23 points
    • Andy StoneAndy Stone, 7 years ago

      Everyone, please recommend JJ Mois' post instead of the one that is currently up top. Unless you are a student, you are a professional. Buy the things that help make you money.

      2 points
  • Michael AleoMichael Aleo, 7 years ago


    6 points
  • Jamie Neely, 7 years ago

    Hey guys. Monotype recently released a library subscription (2,200+ font families for $14.99/mo) available at http://www.myfonts.com/info/mls/ and http://www.fonts.com/mls.

    Plus, if you are using Fonts.com for web fonts, you already have access to "mockup fonts" http://www.fonts.com/web-fonts (starting from Free).

    5 points
  • BAKA .kidBAKA .kid, 7 years ago

    one option you could try is using the preview feature most type foundries have. that way you can have the text as a low res jpg or something, still show how it would look, but not stealing the font. I'm not sure how that goes with the licensing from their websites, but if it converts to a sale when your client chooses that font, then thats good for the foundry too.

    2 points
  • Geoff Yost, 7 years ago (edited 7 years ago )

    Well, Fontstand is a useful app that has allowed us to trial some good, popular typefaces. Downside: the selection is limited, but it's a start at solving this problem.

    Occasionally, for mockups, we'll use a battery of screenshots of web type previews, even in print projects. That's not always helpful (works better for body copy and headlines, than for say, logos).

    Otherwise, we have language in our contract for third party expenses. If we think it's the right thing for the project, we go ahead and buy. Our clients are buying our judgment; they tend to trust we're only going to buy what we need.

    2 points
  • Steve OrchoskySteve Orchosky, 7 years ago

    Found this site a few months ago (maybe on ProductHunt?). I think behind the scenes it goes through github and other public directories to find any instances of the font files. Really useful way to grab missing fonts:


    (As stated before, just use for mockups)

    1 point
  • Kemie GuaidaKemie Guaida, 7 years ago (edited 7 years ago )

    Besides the options mentioned, there is also:

    Fontspring has demo fonts- basically subset fonts that you can install & use before you buy. Not all fonts in their catalog are available (foundries decide whether they allow this or not), but they still have a great selection

    Typecast, that lets you preview and generate strings or paragraphs of text in many many fonts. I use this to generate an image that i can then drag & drop into my design.

    1 point