This document describes the various aspects of publishing your fonts through MyFonts.
The creative, technical, legal and promotional aspects of making and selling fonts will be discussed in greater detail in a series of Foundry Guides to be published on MyFonts.
What MyFonts is, and what it is not
MyFonts is an open marketplace that sells digital typefaces from over 1,000 foundries. MyFonts itself is not a foundry. We sell fonts created by others but make none of our own.
MyFonts is not a curated collection of typefaces. Everybody is welcome, provided their fonts are well-made and usable, respect basic conventions (e.g. glyph encoding), and are not unauthorized copies of existing fonts or lettering. We have a Foundry Review Board to assess this and give feedback about fonts submitted.
About this document
For designers and foundries who want to work with MyFonts as their distributor, the Basic Foundry Handbook is required reading. It tells you what to do and what to avoid when making and selling fonts, and gives useful advice regarding marketing strategies.
We’ll be covering the various aspects of making and selling fonts in a nutshell:
- Designing and preparing fonts
- Understanding copyright and originality
- Submitting your fonts to MyFonts
- Using tools for promoting your fonts
- Working with online sales reports
- Setting up payment options
- Sending additional fonts or updates for existing fonts
Submitting your work to MyFonts
If your foundry* hasn’t done business with MyFonts before, we require that you apply by sending us information about yourself and your company, as well as complete font files of the first typeface(s) you want to publish. Our Foundry Review Board will assess the fonts to decide if they comply with our minimum criteria regarding originality, completeness (glyph set) and technical execution. In cases where the review team decides the fonts are basically OK, but need some improvements, we give detailed feedback.
*Even if you’re a designer operating by yourself, we regard you as a foundry.
Designing and preparing fonts
As the world’s largest font vendor, MyFonts has a responsibility to its customers; we can’t offer badly-made fonts. So we’ve put in place some requirements for new fonts regarding design, technical requirements and character sets.
Some of the greatest fonts on the market are based on existing lettering or typefaces.
There are, however, quite a few no-go areas when it comes to copying or imitating the work of others.
- It is not OK to copy glyphs, or parts of glyphs, found in currently available fonts.
- It is not OK to take the lettering work of a living designer (or even one that has been dead for less than 70 years) and make it into a font without their explicit permission, or the permission of their heirs.
- It’s downright illegal to use digital font files from others to base your font on – even if you change those files completely.
All of this can be regarded as plagiarism, and can get you into legal trouble with the copyright holders of the original work. MyFonts does not provide legal assistance, and will deactivate fonts pending the outcome of reasonable plagiarism claims.
Here are a few of the type design approaches that are ethically OK:
- Sketching and drawing a type family from scratch based on your own ideas.
- Taking a historical model (antique typeface, anonymous lettering) and digitizing it.
- Scanning your own handwriting, lettering or calligraphy and making it into a font – or using the work of somebody who has agreed to this.
The TypeRight Guide to Ethical Type Design is an excellent summary of the ethics of type design. It will help designers understand what is OK and what is not OK when designing fonts that may in some way benefit from the work of other type designers.
Font design and production
We expect our designers and foundries to know about making fonts. Notions such as path direction, outline optimization, removing overlaps, glyph (or character) sets and kerning should be familiar concepts to you. If they’re not, online sources such as these may help in getting you going:
So you want to create a font. Part 1
There are now several programs and apps that allow you to quickly turn drawings and sketches into fonts, or construct an alphabet from simple shapes like circles and squares, and generate a font. The results are not professional fonts. They can work fine for your own or your friends’ use, but to prepare a font for retail and for use by third parties, more finetuning is needed. The font file has to be cleaned up, optimized and completed in a font editor such as FontLab Studio, Fontographer, Glyphs, FontCreator or FontMaster. For the more advanced, RoboFont and the online editor FontForge may be useful tools.
Font design programs will enable you to clean up and optimize paths, remove overlaps, automate repeating tasks, make alphabets more consistent, and control the output and metadata such as copyright notices.
MyFonts has an international customer base. So all fonts — except picture fonts and the like — need to have complete glyph sets (= character sets) including accented letters, along with other characters such as curly quotes and the euro sign, and of course complete punctuation.
MyFonts has established a Basic Glyph Set that is required for all display fonts except those that are primarily decorative in nature such as dingbat and initial caps fonts, or purely experimental alphabetic fonts. For text fonts we recommend a more extended set, and for Pro fonts there are two more levels of recommended glyph sets.
As you probably know, kerning is the correction of letterspacing for specific kerning pairs, from “Av” to “Tü”. Don’t forget that many MyFonts users will be using your fonts for other languages. So make sure that you include kerning pairs that might not necessarily occur in English, such as “Aufhalten (ja, auf) Wolf? Torf Tell”.
Based on a text in Robert Bringhurst’s book Elements of Typographic Style, this test document on the German Typefacts blog is a great tool for double-checking your kerning.
Font buyers expect to be able to embed fonts into PDFs for print and preview. We strongly suggest that you set the embedding flags to allow such embedding and to ensure that your license is consistent with this.
You are responsible for verifying that your fonts work in all the environments they are intended for. At a minimum, make sure that your fonts work with applications that come built into operating systems.
- For Mac OS X, this includes Font Book and TextEdit. Your fonts should, of course, validate with Font Book. We also recommend that you check your fonts with Word as it has some quirks regarding its font handling.
For Windows, check that your fonts work with WordPad and that for families with multiple styles, all styles can be selected from WordPad’s font menu.
Look out for clipping problems (i.e. the partial clipping of ascenders and descenders that “stick out too much”) in Windows applications, as Windows uses its own values for ascent and descent metrics.
- Please also test with as many applications as possible that are commonly used with fonts. Microsoft Word, Adobe CS (Creative Suite) and CC (Creative Cloud) products, CorelDraw, and Quark XPress are the most important in this respect.
Getting professional help
If you need help preparing your fonts for submission, or fixing reported issues/problems, here are some contacts for people who may be able to help you:
Rod Cavazos: email@example.com
Malcolm Wooden: firstname.lastname@example.org
Laynie Whitlock: email@example.com, for help making Windows font versions
Steve Mehallo: firstname.lastname@example.org, for help making flags and other gallery images
Igino Marini: www.iKern.com, for specialized spacing and kerning service
Preparing font packages
The primary font formats required today are OpenType (.OTF) and TrueType (.TTF). Older formats such as Mac PostScript, Windows PostScript and Mac TrueType are now considered to be obsolete are no longer sold.
We recommend that you create one package for each style by zipping each font file.
If you decide to submit both TTF and OTF versions of each style, we recommend that you include both formats in each package. That way, customers don’t have to decide which format to select when they buy your fonts.
It is not required that you submit family packages as MyFonts makes it very easy for users to buy the set of packages that make up a family. Pricing for family packages is calculated automatically using the volume discount table (that may be) specified by the foundry. However, if you decide to make available sub-families, please provide zipped files and pricing for these packages, which also need to have a unique name.
How do I send my stuff to MyFonts?
To send these files to us, you have the following options (best first):
- Upload a single zip file containing all the above archives combined to foundryftp.myfonts.com. We will provide you with a login ID and password for your private account on this ftp server. Please note that you will need to use an ftp client to access the ftp server; it is not possible to use a browser. We recommend Cyberduck, Fetch for Mac OS X or WS_FTP Pro for Windows.
- Send the files to us via e-mail, subject to a 1 MB limitation.
- Place the files on CD and mail it to us at:
- MyFonts Inc
- 600 Unicorn Park Drive
- 3rd Floor
- Woburn, MA 01801
Preparing additional information
In order to display your fonts in a compelling manner, MyFonts needs additional material.
A template is available for use in preparing this material.
- Information about your foundry (name, contact info, web site, logo)
- Information about each font family being submitted:
- font family name
- release date
- brief article summarizing the history, features and recommended applications for the font
- a family flag PDF image in 1:1 ratio, formatted as outline PDF or at least 400×400 pixels PNG file
- one or more posters in 2:1 ratio, formatted as outline PDF or at least 1440×720 pixels PNG files
- Other gallery images or multi-page specimens in PNG or PDF format
- Information about each font package to be offered (file name, display name, price and, if necessary, your product code)
- Information about the font designer including a brief bio and photo if possible.
To recap: We’ll need your font file(s), required graphics, font description, and prices for each new family you submit.
Importing your fonts
When MyFonts receives the information for your first import, we will set up a foundry page for your foundry, person pages for each new designer that you list, and we import your fonts. Once the font files are imported, each new font family page is edited to include the images, article and pricing options you provide. Once the import is complete, we will inform you that your fonts are available for review on our test server “stage-new.myfonts.com”. This is where we host changes before they go live, to allow you to check that no mistakes have been made and to correct any errors or omissions prior to releasing updates to the live site.
Once the fonts are approved, they will normally appear on the live site within one business day.
If you sign up for webfonts, we will offer most or all of your fonts as webfonts. You don’t need to provide us with any special formats, we’ll create the webfont files. Customers who purchase a webfonts will be able to download a webfont kit and incorporate it into their websites.
Webfont prices start at the same as your corresponding desktop font.
Customers with larger websites with heavy traffic pay more based on the number of page views.
To sign up and enable your fonts as webfonts, please go to the sign up page where you will be able to see an FAQ, and review the sign-up documents. After you sign up, the webfont option will appear for all of your fonts within a few days.
Extended Licenses: Mobile App, ePub, Server
Extended licenses are for common use-cases beyond what is allowed by a standard desktop license.
- Mobile App: 10× base desktop price
- ePub: 2× base desktop price
- Server: 10× base desktop, valid for one year
If a customer needs a mix of licenses for a font, we will give a 50% discount on the lowest price license. This encourages customers to buy extra licenses.
For example, a $20 font will also be available as a webfont at $20, and customers can buy the original desktop font along with the webfont for $30.
Marketing and Promotion
Getting your fonts to appear on MyFonts is only the first step towards becoming a rich and famous font designer. With tens of thousands of fonts available from MyFonts, it will take some effort on your part to get noticed.
Helping customers find your fonts
There are several things you can do to make it easier for customers to find and remember your fonts such as:
- Tags. A relevant set of tags will help your fonts appear in search results. Just click Tag It icon on any font family page to add tags for that family. Tags can be removed by clicking the ‘-’ sign against the appropriate tag. Adding too many tags tends to dilute the effectiveness of all your tags. A well focused set of tags is the best strategy.
- Flags. Flag graphics appear in search results and also may display on the home page, should your font appear in the Hot New Fonts section. Flags are 400×400 pixels and should be saved in PNG or PDF formats.
- Posters. Posters are the large samples in 2:1 ratio that appear on the Font Family pages and on the home page’s carousel. They help make a font family more attractive and memorable. Posters are 1440×720 pixels and should be saved in PNG or PDF formats.
- Gallery images. PDF samples and specimen brochures showing off a family help show prospective users what a font can do.
- Inbound links. Be sure to add links from other websites to your font families at MyFonts. It will help users both directly and indirectly by boosting the Google ranking for your font family pages.
Promoting your fonts on our site and beyond
The MyFonts website and newsletters offer a wide array of ways in which fonts can be publicized and promoted. Some of these are automated; some — like the newsletters — are put together by our team.
There are also tools that foundries can use when and how they wish (within certain rules). Here’s an overview of our main promotional tools.
MyFonts takes the first step by listing your new fonts in the What’s New section. In addition, a randomly selected set of new fonts appears under the heading of Recent Fonts on MyFonts front page. Please note that fonts need to be available as webfonts to be eligible to appear in the Recent Fonts section.
Foundries often decide to draw attention to their new releases by giving temporary discounts. Lately, high introductory discounts (-70% to -90%) have proved very effective in getting new families noticed and attain enough sales for a prominent spot on Hot New Fonts (see below). Some of the best and most original font families remained popular after the discount expired and have kept selling at full price. Others have been less successful.
Some voices in the typographic community have advised against extreme discounts, as they are seen to be degrading to professional typeface design and production.
Extreme discounts alone are seldom enough for lasting success. In the long run, it is quality and usability that users value most.
This is how it works:
- Foundries can activate their own promotion discounts — either at the introduction of a font, or later in its life — via the promotion editor that lets you set up limited-time discounts between -5 and -90%.
- After a promotional discount is set up, the poster will appear on the Specials page. The poster will also appear on the MyFonts homepage, and related family pages. You can upload the poster in the promotion editor. In addition, the prices on the family pages will be shown crossed out with the discounted price shown in red.
- Promotions can run up to 45 days and may not include fonts that were on special, or whose price has changed, during the 45 days immediately preceding the promotion.
Hot New Fonts
Any font that is purchased within the first 50 days after it first appears on MyFonts is eligible for a position on the Hot New Fonts list. This list automatically ranks the fifty best-selling fonts that appeared within the preceding 50 days according to their relative sales volume (in dollar value, not copies sold).
Please note that only font families that have 400×400 flags and are enabled as webfonts will be eligible for inclusion on the Hot New Fonts list.
Because people tend to buy fonts that are popular, the Hot New Fonts list tends to amplify success. Most fonts that get into the top four slots stand an excellent chance of getting into the main MyFonts top 50 list.
The Best Sellers list is open to all font families on MyFonts. Best Sellers are the top selling families in the last month.
Newsletters: Rising Stars
Every month, MyFonts sends out a newsletter called Rising Stars. Rising Stars showcases the best of the Hot New Fonts list — a possibly varied selection from the best sellers of the preceding 30 days. This provides additional lift to those fonts that make it to the top of the Hot New Fonts list within 50 days of their debut. To be eligible, it is a prerequisite that fonts are available in cross-platform OpenType format and are licensed as web fonts as well.
Rising Stars also has a Text Fonts of the Month section, selected by the editors from recent well-equipped text fonts. Web font licensing is not a prerequisite here.
Rising Stars goes out to over a million MyFonts users who have signed up for it. Each newsletter is permanently accessible from our newsletters archive.
Every month, MyFonts sends out a newsletter called Creative Characters. Each issue features one designer or foundry. Candidates are selected based on the editor’s opinion of what readers would find most interesting together with suggestions we receive from readers.
Creative Characters goes out to over a million MyFonts users who have signed up for it. Each newsletter is permanently accessible from our newsletters archive.
Business and Finances
Accessing your Sales Reports
Once your fonts are live, we will add a link to real-time sales reports on your MyFonts user account home page. This will give you up-to-the-minute sales results and analysis tools so that you will have a good idea how well your fonts are doing.
MyFonts offers foundries a choice of several electronic payment methods. Payments for sales during each calendar month are sent out within 45 days of the end of that sales month. The available payment methods are:
- Direct Deposit for U.S. bank accounts. US dollars only, minimum $40 payment
- Wire Transfer for non-U.S. bank accounts. Currency of your choice, minimum $500 payment
- PayPal for anyone with a PayPal account, as long as your payment is between $100 and $10,000
If any monthly payment does not reach the minimum payment threshold for payment method, we will hold the payment and add it onto the next month. As soon as your accumulated payments have reached the threshold, you will be paid the full amount at the next payment cycle.
When you have additional fonts you wish to offer, please package them just like the original set of fonts. Only the font-specific information in the information template is needed along with any new designers that may be involved in the new fonts.
Upload the font files along with the graphics and information file to your ftp account and then e-mail email@example.com to tell us that it they are ready to install. We will import them onto our test server for your review prior to making them live.
If you need to update one or more font packages, all we need is a set of the new font packages, and a short description of the nature of the update. Please make sure that the contents of the new packages correspond to the same set of styles in the original packages. That enables us to import the new files, find the old versions, apply the old prices to the new versions, and disable the old versions.
Once an update goes to the live site, we will send an e-mail to everyone who purchased the earlier version informing him or her that a new version is available. We will include in this e-mail your description of the nature of the update. This helps users decide whether or not they need to download the new version.
For bug fixes, such updates are normally free of course. However, if you update a package with a new version that includes more characters or more fonts in a family collection, please feel free to specify a price for the update.
If you need to make permanent price changes to your fonts, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org detailing the changes. The simplest is if you can send us a table of old and corresponding new prices. But feel free to list the specific price changes if necessary.
Price changes tend to be disruptive for users so think carefully before making changes and try to keep them constant for as long as possible. For temporary discounts, or to try the effect of a different price, please use the promotion editor.
As discussed above, price changes are not allowed within a certain period after a discount — see under “Discounts”.
Removing Fonts or Packages
If you need to permanently remove a font, send an email to email@example.com requesting that the font family be removed. Please tell us why it is being removed so that we can include it in the log and explain to customers who ask about it.
Please note that when a font is removed, packages purchased by customers up to that point will remain in their order histories so that they can download a fresh copy should it be needed.
Complaints regarding intellectual property
Occasionally we receive a complaint that a font infringes someone else’s rights to a trademarked name, design patent or is an obvious copy of someone else’s design. In such cases, our policy is to make a preliminary check that the complaint is legitimate and credible. If so, we will temporarily remove the offending font(s) within 24 hours and notify the foundry of our action.
In such cases, we put the source of the complaint and the foundry in touch with each other with a view to resolving the complaint. Only when both parties tell us that they have reached agreement, will we reinstate the font in question.
This document is the first chapter in a series that, we hope, will help our participating foundries become profitable and sustainable businesses. We can’t promise that there’s a magic formula for success as an independent digital foundry, but by paying attention to the guidelines laid down here, we expect anyone selling through our platform to least get the fundamentals right. The rest, with some help from the more specific titles to follow this one, is up to you!
For more help and support contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coordination by Jan Middendorp with Michael Pieracci
Key contributors: Florian Hardwig, Dan Reynolds
Contributions from Tiffany Wardle and the MyFonts team