Font Usage Guidelines

Let’s talk about fonts – they are the spirit that gives life to a design, giving it character, style, and personality. Sadly, not all fonts are created equal. Some are totally free to use, while others require a license for commercial use. In this post, we’re gonna chat about the different types of fonts and font licenses and what you need to know when using them for your business and brand.

Let’s get into it! 

The Freebies

Let’s start with the freebies. Everyone likes FREE! Free fonts are like the colorful playgrounds of the design world –  there are LOADS of free fonts out there just waiting to be discovered! You can download and use them for personal and commercial projects without the need for a license. They’re often created by independent designers or foundries who want to show off their skills. But, be careful, because free fonts aren’t always the best quality and they still might not be legally safe for commercial use

Commercial Fonts 

These fonts require a license for commercial use, meaning you have to purchase a license from the font foundry (a company that designs or distributes typefaces) or distributor. The cost of a commercial font license can vary depending on the font, the foundry, and the intended use. But, depending on your business, investing in a high-quality commercial font could be worth it for your branding and marketing efforts.

When using a commercial font keep in mind these 3 super important guidelines:

  1. Don’t skip reading the license restrictions!! 
  2. Some fonts have limits:
    • Limits on the number of computers or users.
    • Restrictions on use in certain industries or applications.
  3. Stay on the safe side and follow the rules to avoid any legal issues or fines. 

Open-source Fonts

Open-source fonts. The cool kids on the block!  These fonts are created by a community of designers and developers who work together to create high-quality fonts that are accessible to everyone. They’re also FREE to use, but keep in mind… they may not have the same level of quality control and support as commercial fonts, and it’s always a good idea to review the license terms to ensure proper usage.

Fonts are serious business, but they can be fun and playful too. When it comes to choosing the perfect font for your business, consider these things: 

  • Quality
  • legal implications
  • restrictions. 

How Do You Know If You Need A License

How do you know if you need a license for that awesome font you found for your branding? That’s a great question! Don’t worry! I’ve got some tips to help you figure it out:

  • First, look for the font license agreement. This document should tell you whether the font can be used for commercial purposes or if it requires a license. (You can typically find the font license agreement in the font’s documentation or on the website of the font foundry that created the font. If you can’t find the license agreement or are still unsure if you need a license, it’s always a good idea to consult with a lawyer who specializes in copyright law.) Which brings up to our next tip! 
  • Consult with a Lawyer: Still unsure about whether you need a license? No problem! You can talk to a lawyer who knows all about copyright law. They’ll help you understand the legal implications of using a font without a proper license and guide you on how to proceed.
  • Research the Font Foundry: Another option is to research the font foundry. They usually have information about their fonts and licensing requirements on their website. This can give you some insight into whether a font requires a license for commercial use.
  • Use Free Fonts or Open Source Fonts: The easiest way to avoid font licensing issues is to use free fonts. There are plenty of amazing high-quality free fonts that can be used for commercial projects without the need for a license.

To sum it up, it’s essential for businesses to understand and follow font licensing requirements to avoid any legal issues. By checking the font license, talking to a lawyer, researching the font foundry, or using free fonts, you can ensure that you’re using fonts in a legal and responsible way.

Legal Ramifications 

The heavy. Let’s talk about legal ramifications businesses could face if they improperly use fonts. Using a font without the proper license can result in some serious legal issues.

  • Cease and desist letter – you could receive a cease and desist letter demanding that you stop using the font immediately. 
  • Fines and damages – these can range from a couple hundred bucks to thousands of dollars per font, depending on the severity of the infringement. 
  • Legal action – businesses that infringe on font licenses could face legal action, which can be really expensive and give you a bad reputation. 

Customers may lose trust in a business that engages in copyright infringement, and the business may face negative publicity as a result, which could lead to a loss of business. No thanks!

To avoid legal issues and protect your reputation, businesses need to take font licensing seriously. It’s important to read and understand the terms of the font license agreement and make sure that the font is properly licensed before using it in any commercial project. By doing so, you can create awesome designs that are both legally compliant and visually appealing.


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