As a graphic designer, I frequently encounter jobs where it is essential that I am able to identify a certain font. Most of the time, the font is something fairly common and requires only a bit of scrolling through your fonts list, but occasionally you see something completely foreign to you and with all the thousands of fonts out there, you get a little intimidated. Don’t be. There are a few ways to help you name that pesky font.
The first place I like to go is a site called identifont.com. This site helps you find the font by the process of elimination. You are asked a series of questions regarding various characteristics of the particular font. “Does it have serifs?” “Does the capital U have a stem?” Some people may not know what the word “serif” or “stem” means, but it’s okay because the site gives you a visual aid. As you answer each question, the field of possible fonts becomes smaller. Typically, you are left with a list of about 30 fonts that are fairly close. This is nice because even if you don’t find the font you’re looking for, you have several options for substitution. The only problem with this site is that the fonts that are listed are usually a commercial font, meaning they have to be paid for. If you have a client that has a sizeable budget, they might buy the font, but its doubtful. This is where I shamelessly advocate piracy. Occasionally, you can find some of the more popular commercial fonts using a file sharing application like Limewire or BitTorrent. I you choose to try this, be very careful. Many times these files are malicious files in disquise. Make sure to virus scan anything you download.
The other site that I find useful is www.MyFonts.com/WhatTheFont/. For this site you will have to register, but this site is very helpful since it has a scanning device that will try to read the font from a provided image and a forum where you can submit that image for others to look at. To submit an image of the mystery font you will need to scan an example of the font. Then you will need to import/open that image in a program that handles rastor images such as Adobe Photoshop, Corel Photo-Paint or Irfanview. These programs have functions that allow you to adjust various components of your source image. This may be necessary to improve the sites ability to scan your image and identify your font. The font should be straight without any letters touching. Also, if the source image contains a lot of extraneous information such as a shadow effect or multiple colors, you can use the program to simplify it a bit. I recommend making the file a 1-bit image and using the contrast adjustment to water down any weird effects the font may have.
The site accepts files of GIF, JPEG, TIFF & BMP format. Once you have uploaded your image the site will scan it and lead you through a list of characters it was able to identify. Tab down through them to make sure the site has got them correct and omit any that it did not catch; then, proceed. If you’re lucky, it will name that font, but if you’re not you’re off to your last chance: the forums. You will submit that same image to the forum where people will look at it and see if they can identify it. There are several forums like this, but I find this one the best because it has a good sized picture of the font above each entry rather than having to link to the image. You may have to wait a while, or perhaps indefinitely, but if you have any responses to your post, an email will be sent to you to let you know. If might be necessary to repost the image a couple of times, since they tend to get buried as new posts come in.
If this doesn’t work you’re on your own. Good luck.