Foundry Tools

Interested in selling? Read this overview:

Read in-depth advice from MyFonts in our Foundry Guides series:

An ongoing series of publications edited by MyFonts' Foundry Review team to help type designers and foundries make decisions about their typeface designs, font production and promotion.

Getting Started on MyFonts

Once you’ve decided to work with MyFonts, read this guide to learn more about what selling fonts through us is like. Required reading for anyone wishing to sign up.

Are you ready for MyFonts?

Do your typefaces have the quality level we are looking for? And is a reseller like MyFonts ideal for what you have in mind for your foundry?

Common Errors in Type Design

There are some types of errors and problems that MyFonts’ Foundry Review team notices very often in new fonts. Here is a list of the most common problems.

Type Design: Online Resources

Type specialists have been publishing online guidelines and how-to’s for many years. We’ve made a selection of the best and most helpful tips.

Pricing Fonts. Includes: The Pros & Cons of Discounting

Setting the right price for your fonts and families can be crucial for your success in the market. A guide on price levels and discounts, and how the public is likely to behave.

Font Licensing Models. Price Calculation, Pricing Tables

MyFonts offers a wide range of licences, including Desktop, Web, App and ePub licenses. An overview of pricing tables, volume discounts, and more.

Cover illustrations by Beatrice Davies

Typeface: Mamut by Lasko Dzurovski (Totem)

Disclaimer: Technical advice given in these guides indicates the level of professionality required to be accepted on MyFonts, as well as ways to improve the production level and marketability of your fonts. Tips regarding marketing, pricing and licensing are meant as informal advice to help you decide how to work with MyFonts’ marketing tools, and incentives to think about various business options. None of these tips is a guaranteed recipe or watertight recommendation to maximize your profit; a font’s success depends on many factors for which its designer(s) and foundry are responsible.

Getting Started on MyFonts

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
  • …and more.

New foundries

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.

Design: originality

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

Making faces

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.

Character sets

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.

Kerning

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.

Embedding

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.

Testing

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: rxc@psyops.com

Malcolm Wooden: mwooden@dtptypes.com

Laynie Whitlock: whitlock.69@embarqmail.com, for help making Windows font versions

Steve Mehallo: steve@mehallo.com, for help making flags and other gallery images

Igino Marini: www.iKern.com, for specialized spacing and kerning service

Preparing font packages

Font formats

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):

  1. 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.
  2. Send the files to us via e-mail, subject to a 1 MB limitation.
  3. Place the files on CD and mail it to us at:
    • MyFonts Inc
    • 600 Unicorn Park Drive
    • 3rd Floor
    • Woburn, MA 01801
    • USA

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.

This includes:

  1. Information about your foundry (name, contact info, web site, logo)
  2. Information about each font family being submitted:
    • font family name
    • origin
    • designer
    • 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
  3. Information about each font package to be offered (file name, display name, price and, if necessary, your product code)
  4. 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.

Webfonts

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

Up-selling

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.

What’s New

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.

Discounts

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.

Best Sellers

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.

Creative Characters

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.

Royalty Payments

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.

Additional Fonts

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 foundrysupport@myfonts.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.

Updates

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.

Price changes

If you need to make permanent price changes to your fonts, please send an email to foundrysupport@myfonts.com 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 foundrysupport@myfonts.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.

Conclusion

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 foundrysupport@myfonts.com.

Coordination by Jan Middendorp with Michael Pieracci
Key contributors: Florian Hardwig, Dan Reynolds
Contributions from Tiffany Wardle and the MyFonts team

Are you ready for MyFonts?

(and is MyFonts right for you?)

Hundreds of people contact MyFonts each year because they hope to sell their fonts through us, in order to reach what is probably the world’s largest customer base for fonts.. On average, one new foundry comes knocking at our door each day. MyFonts used to welcome anyone who had a font to sell. This offered new talent a unique opportunity to get their work online, fast; but it also opened the door to a lot of not-so-great fonts. So we have become selective. And critical. And demanding.

MyFonts now has a team of specialists to assess whether the fonts submitted by new, aspiring foundries are original, well-made, and technically sound. In time, we will also sift through the existing fonts on our site and weed out the bad fonts.

In a few words, in order to be accepted your fonts should be:

  • well-drawn
  • well-produced
  • complete
  • original (more about this below)

We expect each of our designers and foundries to be dedicated, have a professional attitude, and be sincere in how they approach their work and the type trade. We now accept about one out of every four new foundries.

But let’s start at your end: do you need us?

Do you want to be a foundry?

MyFonts is a retail platform (some say “distributor,“ or “reseller” instead) that works for and with foundries — from very large font libraries to one-person microfoundries. MyFonts is not a foundry: we don’t publish any typefaces of our own.

When we work with individual designers, we regard them as independent foundries. In other words: businesses that are responsible for their own design and production, decisions about promotion, and more.

So the first question you need to ask yourself is: do I want to be my own foundry?

Let’s assume you’re an independent creative and you know what you are doing, font-wise. Your concepts, outline drawings and family structures are well thought-out. You have one or more typeface families in the works that are (almost) ready to hit the market as retail fonts. So — you’re a type designer. But does that necessarily make you an aspiring type foundry owner? Is the prospect of starting up your own independent foundry attractive to you? The alternative is to sign up with an existing foundry — one that accepts unsolicited submissions (see below).

Here are some pros and cons of starting up your own foundry.

Becoming a foundry: advantages

  • Most decisions — about design, technology, timing, business, promotion, licensing, and more — are your own.
  • You don’t depend on any other company’s decisions on suitability or timing when it comes to being ready to release a new font.
  • You earn a portion of each sale. As a rule, this is a higher percentage than you’d earn if you signed up with an existing foundry.
  • You can decide how many retailers you want to work with, and which ones these should be. You can even open up your own web shop alongside these distributors, hoping to earn even more if buyers know where to find you.

Becoming a foundry: disadvantages

  • You must have some business acumen.
  • Besides making fonts, you'll need to run other parts of your business: administration, promotion design, replying to error reports, etc.
  • You will need to produce retail-ready fonts. Font production can be quite a big deal, and the advent of complex OpenType programming has raised the bar. By contrast, if you work with an existing foundry they may take your design off your hands when the fonts themselves are done, and take care of the technical issues that require specialist knowledge.

As expert type designer Kent Lew, whose work is published by Font Bureau, wrote in a comment on Typographica.org:

“Beyond the glyph drawing and spacing/kerning, there are increasingly more complicated technical aspects to be handled — from proper name fields and ascent/descent parameters to OTL feature writing, etc. A foundry will offer final production (as well as quality control and tech support). Some distributors may offer some assistance, but for the most part consider you the foundry and hold you responsible. Going it alone, of course, requires you to manage it all yourself.”

So being your own foundry means to be a bit of a font engineer/programmer as well — in other words a font developer.

Signing up with a foundry

If the above sounds daunting or unattractive, and you’d rather spend all your time on actually making type, then signing up with an existing foundry can be a better option.

Several of the larger libraries — including Monotype’s collections Linotype, Monotype, and FontFont — are open to unsolicited proposals. Many smaller foundries, however, prefer working with people they know and invite personally. Attending type conferences or doing workshops can be a good way to get to know people in the business, and present your work.

Working with a foundry: advantages

  • Some foundries will perform all font production tasks for you, or offer advice and assistance on completing font families.
  • The foundry will handle business-related issues: customer support, marketing, publicity, and retail relationships.
  • Foundries help protect your work, take action against piracy and misuse.
  • You can (almost) fully concentrate on drawing type.

Working with a foundry: disadvantages

  • You have very little say in pricing, marketing, packaging, choice of retail platforms, etc.
  • You only receive a relatively small percentage of each sale. Also, you may be obligated to assign your IP (intellectual property) rights to the foundry. This is one of the biggest differences compared to running your own foundry.

If you have ambition as a type designer, not every foundry is a good match. This is what type expert Stephen Coles has to say:

“Questions to ask yourself about a foundry:

  • Is the library a good fit for my style of type?
  • What production assistance do they offer?
  • Where are the foundry’s fonts sold and how are they marketed?
  • What is the length of the contract agreement?” *

How about going it alone and only selling directly?

Once your mind has been made up about starting your own foundry, the million-dollar question is: do I need distributors at all?

There is something to be said for going it alone. When selling directly to customers, via your web shop or by talking to them in person, there are personal and financial rewards to be had — if you have the energy, inventiveness and staying power to make your shop a success.

Managing your own exclusive retail platform: advantages

  • You have complete control over your brand, image, and publicity.
  • You can build up interesting and rewarding relationships with users.
  • You get to keep most of the revenue.
  • Your work will obtain an aura of exclusivity.
    • This may be good for your prestige in the typographic world.
    • Exclusivity may enable you to avoid low pricing and discounts.

Managing your own retail platform: disadvantages

Choosing to keep the full profit of your sales sounds like a no-brainer. But 100% of zero is zero; and luring customers to a small foundry’s web shop is hard work.

  • You need quite a bit of business acumen.
  • You are likely to spend considerable time doing other things than making fonts — or hire people to do it for you: administration, promotion and advertising, sales and invoicing, social networking, investment in equipment and assistance, legal stuff.
  • The additional cost of overhead (advertising space, website maintenance, e-commerce costs) may be substantial.
  • You’re responsible for customer support and will personally have to answer calls and emails from customers concerning orders, payment, updates or technical issues.

Is MyFonts right for you?

Let’s assume at this point that you have decided that: (a) starting up a foundry looks like a great idea, and (b) working with retail platforms is better than doing it all alone. Now when it comes to choosing your retailers, what are your motives for choosing MyFonts?

Working with MyFonts: advantages

  • MyFonts is the world’s largest retail platform for fonts, with millions of customers.
  • MyFonts is a level playing field, where all foundries have equal chances of making it.
  • We have two helpdesks based on both sides of the Atlantic: a Customer Helpdesk and a Foundry Helpdesk. The teams are small, but each member has built up considerable expertise over the years. Prompt and personal help are priorities.
  • Foundries have a lot of freedom to decide about pricing and promotions, and to make changes fast.
  • MyFonts has various admin tools that enable foundries to monitor their sales almost in real-time and make quick decisions about pricing, promotions or packaging.
  • Foundries can use their own website to lead users to MyFonts, and can sign up as affiliates in order to increase their percentage of the sales.
  • MyFonts offers a range of promotion tools, mostly based on objective data concerning revenue and popularity; we have two newsletters a month that go out to around 1.4 million addresses (2015), plus a popular overview of the most successful fonts of the year.
  • MyFonts offers a unique pay once system for web fonts, which many customers prefer over yearly rent, while maintaining control over pageviews.
  • MyFonts offers smartly-priced licenses for specialized uses, such as Apps, ePub, Server, and OEM. For the latter, Monotype’s sales team sometimes brings in large corporate contracts.

Working with MyFonts: possible disadvantages

  • True to the “level playing field” principle, MyFonts offers little room for “staff picks” and curatorial decisions. Most promotion goes to fonts that sell well.
  • In other words: making high-quality fonts does not guarantee you attention on MyFonts. (We’re developing new promotion tools to amend this a bit.)
  • Many customers look at our What’s New and Hot New Fonts lists. So new fonts get most attention. If your production is low, there may be periods of low sales — unless you manage to have a long-seller; several designers do.
  • Luring potential customers to your MyFonts pages may require considerable activity of your own: networking, promotion, social media.
  • In case of customer complaints about technical issues, MyFonts will ask foundries to fix font files as soon as possible.
  • In case of originality complaints or other legal issues, MyFonts will not take sides: cases must be settled between the complainant and the foundry.

Now back to what MyFonts wants — and what we think our customers deserve.

Are you ready for MyFonts?

MyFonts is a professional platform that offers digital typefaces to a broad market. Our customers include hobbyists, bloggers and shopkeepers — but also high-end advertising agencies, major manufacturers and government bodies.

Fonts that work. We aim to sell only quality fonts, and do not admit any work from new foundries that we regard sub-par. We are also weeding out work of unacceptable quality by foundries that signed up with MyFonts in previous years. Our main goal is to provide customers with fonts that work under any expectable circumstances. MyFonts has a dedicated Helpdesk, but complaints need to be kept to a minimum. It is the foundries’ responsibility that fonts work well. Even if you think of your fonts as experimental or simply “fun”, they are expected to be usable to average customers.

In short, when it comes to admitting fonts and foundries, MyFonts doesn’t like to take chances. If you’re still learning, if you like to live dangerously, or have little patience for technical details, then MyFonts is probably not the kind of platform where you should want to sell your stuff.

Free-font quality? No thanks. Even if your font has been downloaded a million times from a free-font site, that doesn’t mean it’s automatically entitled to a place on our site. Free fonts are also free to cause problems; non-paying customers are less likely to complain. Also, MyFonts is not an online archive for every digital font file in existence.

Do you dabble, or are you type-obsessed?

Many beginning graphic designers approach MyFonts with a student project or an alphabet drawn for a client project. These fonts can be intriguing personal exercises, but often don’t meet the requirements for a professional typeface. Fonts that are made out of personal curiosity or out of a desire to experiment with form are not necessarily sellable fonts. An alphabet that was designed to add an unusual touch to a client’s visual identity may be perfect for that job, but will require a lot of professional type designer skills to offer something useful to the rest of the world as well.

Making retail fonts is hard work. Some of the most successful type designers on MyFonts started out as graphic designers or art directors, and then discovered that their true passion lay in type and typography. But before being able to focus fully on type and quit their day job, they had a steep learning curve ahead of them. They had to learn about a lot of things that even graphic designers don’t realize are so important: legibility and readability, optical tricks, and technicalities such as name fields, spacing kerning, vertical metrics, and OpenType programming.

A type designer does not have to be a monomaniac or an obsessive geek — but it helps. And even if your type design activities are part of a much broader repertoire, a sincere interest in type is a crucial element for a fruitful collaboration with MyFonts. If your main hope is to make easy money with quickly made fonts, then your future in type design is probably not too bright.

New ideas, please

This takes us to the next pressing question: is anybody waiting for the fonts you have in mind?

Type design is a bit like popular music: each new voice is standing on the shoulders of giants. However, as in music, few people are going to appreciate it if all you want to do is to make things that are almost exactly like something someone else invented. In rock, blues or jazz, it’s hard to please listeners without re-using principles (and chord schemes, and rhythms) that were there before you — but musicians will try to find a voice, a sound, a harmony of their own. In type design it’s similar.

Me-too products. To make clients and readers happy, you’ll need to make them recognize letters, and also the moods these letters convey. But too many budding type designers think this makes its almost impossible to be original. Or that being original is not necessary: that it’s OK to copy what’s already out there, change a few details, and launch a font as your own work.

But you’re only good if you have ideas of your own. As in music (or illustration, or poster design) making type that sparkles because it oozes fun, intelligence, and new ideas, is still possible. In fact, it’s what will eventually gain you more respect and long-term success.

What MyFonts’ customers hope for

Digital typography and type design have been getting very sophisticated over the past ten years or so. Our professional customers expect fonts that reflect these developments.

Here are some qualities that make us happy when checking out new fonts:

  • Language support. We cater to a global market, and fonts are increasingly used for multilingual projects in corporate design, branding or packaging. So broad language support is highly appreciated in new fonts. But before you produce a typeface that covers more than just the language(s) you speak, get acquainted with the required shapes of the languages and writing systems in question.
  • Typographic sophistication. We still need contemporary and innovative font families made with complex editorial design in mind. If the style and design of your type family says “body text” then remember that demanding book and magazine designers want things like small caps, small caps currency symbols, oldstyle (non-ligning) and tabular numerals, fractions, superscript and subscript figures, and more.
  • ExtraLight and ExtraBold weights in text families for impact in headlines…
    …and more.

What MyFonts is not exactly waiting for

Is MyFonts interested in offering more of the same? Not really.

Here are some examples of what we are likely to reject:

  • A single-style typeface of a genre that begs to be offered as a larger family. For instance: a text face without italics or small caps, or a simple sans-serif in only one weight.
  • Caps-only designs that could easily be expanded with a lowercase, or with alternates in the lowercase slots.
  • New fonts in categories that are already overpopulated. Here are a few:
    • Geometric Sans-Serif, Swiss-style Grotesque, Squarish Sans: These are genres that leave little room for improvisation. It has become difficult to design characters that are in any way different from what is already available. Don’t go there unless you have a very clear plan, and know exactly why your family is going to be different, greater or richer.
    • Brush Scripts: In just a few years, dozens and dozens of very similar fonts have been added to this popular genre. Don’t even try unless you’re good at drawing them. And find your own voice first, unless you want to receive a complaint from someone who was there before you.
    • Scribbled handwriting: Looks easy. But to make a handwriting font look natural you’ll need to use OpenType trickery: Contextual Alternates, Discretionary Ligatures, and more. If you have no idea what that means or how to do it, start reading about it before you start digitizing.
    • Skinny hand-drawn capitals: Display fonts made of narrow caps, looking like they’ve been hastily scribbled with a pencil or marker — it’s a genre that seems reeeally easy to do. But MyFonts already has so many of them that you probably won’t get our attention with one of those.
  • And here are some of the worst offenders:
    • Grunge-style remixes of… anything: Taking an existing font or lettering style and roughen it up a bit with digital filters or by taking a piece of sandpaper to a print-out? We’re not impressed. Using somebody else’s digital font files may get you on a blacklist.
    • Adding serifs, or cutting them off: That’s OK if you’ve drawn your own original typeface and are eager to make a bigger family. But to do that to somebody else’s typeface has nothing to do with type design — it is fiddling about, or even piracy. Don’t.

Our best advice: sketch letters by hand

Drawing type with a pencil, pen or brush is the best way of letting your own talent and style, or even your own limitations show through. To get to a typeface of your own, use your own hands, and your own simple tools. The makers of Glyphs, one of the most popular applications for designing digital fonts, like to hand out their own “sketch tool” at conferences. It’s just two pencils, bound together with a couple of rubber bands. A very nice instrument to imitate the contrast of a wide, flat pen or brush. Be yourself, and use your hands.

Ready?

If you think you know enough now to give it a try, do consult our other Foundry Guides to know more about type design techniques, family building, pricing, and more.

* Quoted with permission from Stephen Coles’ Typographica post Taking Your Fonts to Market: Foundry, Reseller, or Go Solo? which has been an important resource for parts of this guide.

Coordination by Jan Middendorp with Michael Pieracci
Key contributors: Florian Hardwig, Dan Reynolds
Contributions from Tiffany Wardle and the MyFonts team

Common Errors in Type Design

The purpose of this guide is to point out mistakes that budding type designers often make. It briefly provides information, and points you to more comprehensive resources on how to get things right.

This document focuses on design and production errors. Broader issues, such as the concept and usefulness of typefaces, their originality and context, are covered in a separate guide titled Are you ready for MyFonts?
Both guides are required reading for type designers contributing new fonts to MyFonts.

If this document contains any technical terms unfamiliar to you, you’ll probably find them in our forthcoming Type Design Glossary (coming soon). For basic typographic terms, see the glossaries by Gunnlaugur Briem, FontShop, or Typography.Guru.

For online resources to help you solve type design problems, please consult MyFonts’ guide Type Design: Online Resources.



Incomplete character sets

A professional font is more than A-Z and 0-9. Users need complete punctuation marks, currency symbols beyond the dollar sign, and diacritics (accents, umlauts etc.) and other special characters for languages other than English.

We expect all new fonts to comply with this minumum set:

We expect all new fonts to comply with this set at the very least. We strongly recommend to support a wider range of languages, though – for any font, but especially if your font is intended for professional multi-purpose use. For recómmended larger sets, see this section of our Resources Guide: https://foundry.myfonts.com/guides/#character-sets.
When marketing a typeface as a text family, we recommend adding small caps and multiple numeral styles.

Possible exceptions are:

  • symbol/icon fonts
  • initials-only fonts; however, we generally do ask for numerals and diacritics here, too!

See: MyFonts Resource Guide: Character Sets

Faulty outlines

Glyphs in fonts are drawn with Bézier paths. Good glyph paths/outlines are characterized by an efficient use of points (= nodes). This implies:

  • placing as few points on the outline as possible, but as many as necessary
  • placing points on all of the character’s extremes (i.e., left, right, top, bottom)

Glyphs with too many points on their nodes tend to look bumpy, especially when they are set in larger point sizes. And extra points on straight lines are just plain dumb.

When scanning glyphs from an analog source and auto-tracing them in a vector editor, paths will have hundreds of nodes.

  • If a clean look is wanted, you’ll need to eliminate all unnecessary points. Hand-tracing might be easier.
  • If you want the look of ragged outlines, you may still need to refine your auto-traced characters.
See: MyFonts Resource Guide: Proper letter-drawing – Vectorizing letters

Unremoved overlaps

Are any paths in your characters overlapping each other? Not good! These need to be joined together into a single path (= one single outline). Otherwise, these overlaps will cause output errors; for instance, they can cause expensive disasters in plotting jobs. Among the usual suspects are glyphs made from two parts: Œ œ Æ æ Ç ç Ð ð Ę ę Ø ø ¥, etc.

A common error often occurs with diacritics. Designers may remove the overlaps in a basic glyph — for instance æ — but forget to do the same for derived glyphs like ǽ and ǣ.

Also, watch out for incorrect path directions and accidental duplicate outlines on top of each other.

Inconsistent stroke weights

All glyphs in a font should have the same optical weight. They should each look as light or as dark as all the others. This does not mean that they must all have strokes of exactly the same thickness. But it should appear that they do.

Superscript characters (like ¹²³ªº), fractions, small caps, legal symbols (™®©) and a few more glyphs were drawn like they are smaller versions of other characters in the font. They are not! They are individual characters in their own right. Scaling down the bigger forms of these glyphs (e.g., making the ™ out of a scaled down T and M) is wrong. If you do this, these glyphs will look too light and will make text look uneven.

If you scale glyphs down, you must adjust their weight afterwards, making them a bit bolder and sometimes also a bit wider.

Malformed “foreign” glyphs

Designers who are unfamiliar with certain characters or diacritics from another language sometimes make a wild guess about their correct shape. But if these glyphs are drawn in an incorrect or unconventional way, that will probably make the font useless for native users.

Typical errors include:

  • inverted question mark (¿) points into the wrong direction.
  • masculine ordinal indicator (º) looks like a zero instead of a superscript letter ‘o’. Wrong, because it needs to harmonize with ª (feminine ordinal indicator): it must have the same optical size and be placed on the same height.
  • double low-9 quotation mark („) is mistakenly drawn as single mark (‚).
  • diacritics like those in á ò ê ñ ü ž, etc. have inconsistent shapes and weights, or are on different heights. Harmonize!
  • dotless i (ı) looks like a figure 1 (one) or a stick. No, instead it should look just like the letter ‘i’ without a dot.
  • the Icelandic thorn (Þþ) and eth (Ðð) are malformed. Uppercase thorn (Þ) shouldn’t have a descender, nor should it be taller than other capitals. Its belly should (optically) be as large as in P. Lowercase thorn (þ) needs a full ascender and descender. Lowercase eth (ð) shouldn’t have a spur at the bottom right.
  • dot accent in ė ċ ġ ż etc. doesn’t harmonize with the i dot. Not good. Best practice is to make all dot accents the same as i dot, in terms of size, shape and position.
  • vertical caron in ď ľ ť creates a gap in words. It shouldn’t! It may look different from an apostrophe.
  • there’s a German lowercase eszett (ß) in the ß slot of an all-caps or small-caps font. This is incorrect: the default capital eszett should look like a normally spaced double S (SS). You can include a real capital eszett (ẞ) by encoding it as U+1E9E.

See: MyFonts Resource Guide: Unfamiliar characters

Clipping

Clipping is when parts of the character (typically top or bottom; ascenders, descenders and diacritics) are not visible on the screen (or even in print) when a font is used in certain programs.

Clipping happens when glyphs are drawn too large in relation to the font size: some exceed their bounding box. In order to prevent this, the type designer needs to test each font in applications that are known to be sensitive to this problem — in particular Microsoft Office (Word) on Windows. If clipping issues happen, the vertical metrics need to be adjusted.

See: MyFonts Resource Guide: Other technical issues – Prevent clipping

Lack of overshoots

Font design is full of necessary optical illusions! Have you ever noticed that a circle that is the same height as a square looks smaller when they are placed next to each other?

If the vertical extremes of your round characters (all of them – not just o, O, and zero) align exactly to your font’s baseline and x-height or cap-height, they will look too small next to the font’s other characters, and the text will look irregular.

Rounded characters should “overshoot” all of these internal font measurement guidelines. The exact size of these overshoots, however, is somewhat dependent on what style of font you are drawing, and what its intended point-size is. As a type designer, you’ll need to learn to regulate these things by eye.

See: MyFonts Resource Guide: Proper letter-drawing – Optical compensation

Bad spacing

A font’s spacing (between words, letters, punctuation, etc.) should be balanced, consistent, and optically correct.

  • Any problems with letter spacing issues should NOT be fixed by adding kerning pairs. First, get your basic spacing right. Adjust the sidebearings of each glyph. Only add kerning as a second step, wherever exceptions for specific pairs are necessary (see below).
  • Has the spacing been approached in the right way in your font? Generally, a glyph like ‘o’ should be optically centered in the middle of the glyph space, with an equal amount of white space to its left and right.
  • Is the spacing systematic? Equal shapes should be treated equally.

See: MyFonts Resource Guide: Proper Spacing

Improper kerning

Most fonts will require kerning, except for monospaced fonts or maybe icon/dingbat fonts.

Kerning and letter spacing are not the same thing. “Kerning” refers to pair-specific adjustments to the space between two characters. Most often, a kerning pair is added to a font to reduce the amount of space between two characters (“negative kerning”). A common example for the application of a kerning pair would be for the space between ‘A’ and ‘V.’ Typically, both ‘A’ and ‘V’ would be spaced so the terminals of their diagonal strokes nearly touch the vertical stroke in the adjacent letter, like an ‘H.’ When a ‘A’ and ‘V’ are set next to each other, however, the spacing looks too open. There can also be instances of “positive kerning,” where additional space is added between two characters.

When you apply kerning to your font, do it systematically. If the uppercase ‘A’ is one of the letters used in a kerning pair, for instance, the same kern may also need to be applied to all instances of the ‘A’ with diacritics, as well as to any formally-related characters present in your font. Also, don’t forget to look at punctuation. In most cases, fonts will need kerning pairs for many uppercase letters + punctuation marks, lowercase letters + punctuation, numerals + punctuation, and even between pairs of punctuation marks themselves (e.g., the comma followed by quotation marks).

See: MyFonts Resource Guide: Proper Kerning

Lazy family expansion

Once you have finished your first font, you may want to make an italic or bold companion for it, especially if it is an upright-style font intended for use in text sizes.

It is often a sign of laziness to automatically slant upright fonts instead of drawing italics. Any layout program can slant a roman — graphic designers don’t need an extra font for that. What makes an italic usable and interesting is a different design — radically different in some cases, or subtly adapted to the function and angle in others.

Similarly, don’t just add weight linearly when making a Bold. This will often destroy the contrast and make your font look heavy-handed, with too dark joins and too small counters.

The same goes for other variations, such as outlined or shadowed fonts: Don’t rely on automatic effects. Rather let your eye guide you.

Finally, when creating intermediary weights using interpolation — first study techniques for proper point placement on your extreme weights AND double check every single glyph in every single font. Sometimes strange deformations occur when interpolating. It is crucial to thoroughly check your results and amend where necessary.

Missing OpenType features

Most fonts will require a few basic OpenType features. If you include any sort of alternate version of a character (glyph) in your font, you must also include an OpenType feature for it. Otherwise, it will be difficult for users to access the glyph.

For instance, if your font includes fi and fl ligatures, a feature must be added to your font. Other very common OpenType features include Discretionary Ligatures, Contextual Alternates, Stylistic Sets, Small Caps, and various features for numeral styles.

If your font contains stylistic alternates, please consider making them accessible both via the <SALT> (Stylistic Alternates) feature AND via Stylistic Set(s). As of now, Adobe Illustrator only supports the former, and Adobe InDesign only the latter.

See: MyFonts Resource Guide: Proper OpenType Coding

Coordination by Jan Middendorp with Michael Pieracci
Key contributors: Florian Hardwig, Dan Reynolds
Contributions from Tiffany Wardle and the MyFonts team

Type Design: Online Resources

This document is simply an annotated and non-comprehensive list of links to type design-related resources outside of MyFonts. 
Some of the linked articles have been written for beginners. Other websites provide information that may also benefit more experienced type designers — resources about diacritics, family structures, and more complex technical issues.

This guide is a companion document to MyFonts’ guide Common Errors in Type Design.

Type Design Basics

How to get started

Proper letter-drawing

Vectorizing letters
Optical compensation

Starting a family

Italics
Bold

Character sets

Character sets and language support

Unfamiliar characters

There are many common characters in the fonts we use that go beyond Aa–Zz and 0–9. They are needed for specific languages or play a role in punctuation or mathematical typesetting. If you’re not familiar with a certain character from this range, it is a bad idea just make a wild guess at their correct shape.

Accents and other “foreign” diacritics
Non-Latin scripts
Punctuation and symbols

Mind the gap: spacing & kerning

Proper spacing
Proper kerning
  • Typeworkshop: Kerning – basic advice by Underware.
  • Typefacts: Kerningtest – Test string from The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst, extended with German quotation marks by Christoph Koeberlin
  • Diacritics: Kerning – Important kerning pairs that are often missing, compiled by Filip Blažek
  • Font Testing Page – Drag your font file onto to this website and select “Kern” or “Latin 1” to test your kerning.
If you come across (or have published) an online article that you think should be included in this document, send a mail to Foundry Review: foundryreview@myfonts.com

Coordination by Jan Middendorp with Michael Pieracci
Key contributors: Florian Hardwig, Dan Reynolds
Contributions from Tiffany Wardle and the MyFonts team

Font Pricing

Includes: the pros and cons of discounting

This guide is about pricing and special offers. We’ll explain how the prices of fonts are established, what different pricing policies are possible and reasonable, and how customers are likely to react. What we won’t do is try to force-feed you a specific approach to setting prices.

Ultimately, the decision about how much your fonts cost is not MyFonts’ — it’s the foundry’s, yours.

We’ll give background information to help guide your decision making — about customer psychology, economic circumstances, and more. We also give detailed information about how to set up special offers, and how to create packages containing multiple fonts.

The power of pricing

Who decides?

As a rule, font distributors such as MyFonts don’t decide prices. It’s the suppliers — the foundries — that set prices. MyFonts does not orchestrate promotions on its website. The foundries themselves establish timing and discount percentages for special offers.

However, MyFonts imposes rules to prevent abuse of special offers. For instance, we have limited the number of days that foundries are allowed to run a special offer; foundries are obliged to sell a font family at full price for a certain period between special offers.

The price of a digital file

Establishing “the right price” of a font is not so easy. One reason is that, like any product that is distributed over the internet as digital files (apps, music, stock photos, movies, etc.), producing additional copies costs next to nothing. When selling a tangible product, the price of each copy is partly built around the cost of raw material and manufacturing for each copy. But when selling downloadable digital files, there is none of this.

However, one small font file may represent months or even years of dedicated hard work. Good fonts are, in fact, much harder to make than most users realize. How can the price of a small digital file reflect the lifeblood that went into its production?

To many type designers, the price of their typefaces is an emotional thing as much as an economic factor. They feel that a relatively high price expresses appreciation for their work, and low or discounted prices degrade it. However, foundries and distributors cannot ignore economic reality. Like any other business, competition comes with the trade. In order to make a living from fonts, foundries must find an audience that wants to pay for their work — and buy their typefaces rather than those offered by the next vendor.

Know your market

As any economist can tell you, higher prices don’t imply a higher income. The market for fonts is no exception. Recently, lower prices have helped foundries boost their income enormously by reaching a whole new crowd of occasional font buyers.

So pricing is often a question of choosing your niche in the market.

  • exclusivity: Are you a type designer or foundry that prefers to sell mainly to highly professional, demanding graphic designers and typographers? Then relatively high prices and no discounts may be the best strategy. When selling at a high price, margins are larger and the profit-per-unit-sold increases; however, the number of units sold will decrease, and so will, quite probably, your total profit.
  • mass appeal: If you aim to sell type to the masses, then attractive pricing becomes part of the game. Quality, originality and “interestingness” will still play an important part in convincing users to buy your fonts. But occasional font buyers are often persuaded to buy a font family (rather than a single font, or nothing at all) because the price is low enough for them to feel that spending the money is risk-free.
The price of competition

If you choose to try your chances in the mass market for digital type you’ll be competing with big players who have changed the public’s view of how much a font is worth. For many years, software manufacturers such as Adobe and Corel have bundled hefty packs of professional fonts with their design apps, so that the perceived price is zero. Today, more and more distributors are trying out subscription models (often with a free starter program) and systems where people “rent” fonts rather than buying them.

In this rapidly changing market, establishing affordable retail prices can be a powerful tool to continue to sell great fonts where others choose to give away (less great) fonts, or offer flat-rate subscriptions.

Common basic prices

Below are some rough guidelines for basic font prices. We are talking 100% base price for a single Desktop font or Webfont, not discounted prices. If users choose to order an entire family containing many fonts — or several fonts from it — the price-per-font/style may vary considerably according to the Volume Discount Table used. In our Font Licensing Models guide we detail the technicalities of these tables.

These are prices for a basic license. The maximum number of users or computers covered is defined in the EULA (End User License Agreement). Depending on the foundry, this number usually varies between 1 and 5, although there are exceptions.

$0 — free, gratis, libre

MyFonts is not a site for free fonts. Hosting, maintaining and improving the website, customer service, foundry support, and sending newsletters all cost money; we pay all that out of our commission on fonts sold. Even if designers prefer to refrain from getting paid (because they’re idealists with an income outside type design) we cannot be that generous. Too many free fonts on our website would create unfair competition to type designers who do hope to make a living selling type. We welcome occasional free font families from foundries that sell their other fonts at normal prices; and we encourage the inclusion of single free font in a family to lure potential buyers.

Around $5

As a price for single display font family, this is the kind of price range that says “Mediocre stuff”. On the positive side, it may motivate some users with a small budget to buy the font; but a font priced that low is likely to send out a warning signal that a font is not that good.

$10 – $19

Still a low price range for a quality font, and it rarely reflects top quality. However, it does bring your font collection within reach of beginning graphic designers, students, or hobbyist users who feel they cannot afford professional pricing.

$20 – $29

This is a commonly accepted price range for fonts that want to be taken seriously by a broad audience, and hope to attract professionals as well as hobbyists.

$30 – $79

Here’s where it gets serious. Around $40 per font/style is a common price for highly professional typefaces, and some charge considerably more — FontFont, for instance, sells many of its typefaces at $69 per style/per font.

The upper tier of this price range can be regarded as reasonable in case like these:

  • sophisticated script and display fonts with a large number of OpenType features, such as ligatures, alternates, swash characters — often amounting to 1000–2000 glyphs.
  • professional text fonts may have a high glyph count because they contain small caps, various numeral styles, and ample language coverage. In fact, one Pro font in OpenType format may contain the contents of up to five fonts in the old formats (PS Type1 or the old TrueType fonts): they had extra fonts for small caps, Central-European, Greek, Cyrillc, swashes and special numeral styles.

$80 – $99

These prices per single style are becoming rarer on MyFonts, although some professional series such as Linotype Platinum Collection do sell at prices in the top half of that range. For some foundries, a price like $99 for a single-font family used to work well if the font in question was large, unique and well equipped with OpenType features and the like — see above. However, increasing competition in this segment has meant that selling fonts at this kind of price has become more difficult.

Over $100

When the euro was strong, this (US dollar) price range still kind of worked for top-notch work — at the mid-2014 exchange rate it showed up as around 75 euros, which didn’t sound as expensive. But in today’s world, that price range is almost a guarantee of selling next to nothing, at least on MyFonts, with its broad customer base.

Basic prices in foreign currency

MyFonts users in Europe see and pay prices in local currency, i.e. euros (€). Those in the United Kingdom see and pay in British pounds (£).

Value Added Tax (VAT — called USt, TVA, IVA or BTW in other countries) is added during checkout, using the local percentage valid in the country the order is placed from.

As a foundry, you have two basic options:

  • Price fonts in United States dollars (USD), and leave conversion to our system. It regularly updates the conversion rate in accordance with internationally established rates.
  • Establish fixed prices in all three currencies ($, € and £). In that case, it is up to you to monitor the fluctuations on the financial markets and change prices in response.

Introductory discounts, special offers

When a new typeface is introduced, a special offer can be an effective means of getting noticed, sell a fair number of copies in the first weeks, and consequently end up high on the Hot New Fonts list, and perhaps earn a spot in the Rising Stars newsletter (which is based on sales). In recent years, these introductory special offer discounts have become rather eye-catching: a 90% discount on a large family is not an exception any more, although 70-80% is more frequent. Again, it’s not MyFonts but the individual foundries who decide about these discounts.

The new strategy has met with some controversy in the typographic world. We’ll briefly discuss the pros and cons.

Pro:
  • Since the introduction of extreme discounts, customers are more inclined than ever to buy complete type families. Up until a few years ago, single-font purchases were the rule. Lower prices have helped increase awareness of type families, and how they can be useful.
  • The revenue of successful new families has increased significantly. Although the revenue-per-family-sold can seem very small (sometimes as little as $40 for a family of 10–14 fonts, a tenth or less of the conventional price) the number of copies sold has multiplied. A font family that is discounted 80% in its introduction phase may generate as much revenue in its first two months as a successful normally priced family would in an entire year in the past.
Contra:
  • The downside of the new strategy is that many font families that are introduced at an extreme discount disappear from view after the first period of success. Others, however, continue to sell well. This usually depends on attractiveness, originality, and the quality of the visual material (“posters” and “flags”) on the font page.
  • Pricing has become a dominant factor in determining the success of new fonts. This is partly because MyFonts uses revenue as its main criterion for choosing which new font families to promote. We have always tried to remain objective, and avoid letting the staff’s taste play a strong part in selecting fonts to promote; but rewarding price stunting must have its limits. Spectacular discounts make it easier to successfully sell new font families of less-than-superior quality. MyFonts is finding ways of balancing this out.
  • Fonts in use improve visibilty. While low prices may lead to more sales, it can be argued they don’t necessarily generate more uses. Customers who bought a font just because it was cheap may feel less inclined to put it to actual use than those who shelled out a more significant amount. And fonts that are actually used are those that get exposure and hence continue to sell later.
Two-sided swords:
  • As prices have become a more important factor in deciding about font purchases, more font purchases have become impulse buys. Some foundries dislike this aspect, because extreme promos seem like a sine-qua-non for successfully introducing a new family. Others don’t mind — they have thrived thanks to the new trend. For them, the lower prices are compensated by massive sales.
  • Large discounts have helped cause a change in perception of the font-buying public — fonts are now more of a “popular culture” product. In the past, occasional users often complained about fonts being too expensive. More recently, these complaints have become rare. Hobbyists and struggling designers are realizing that fonts are affordable; the perceived “threshold” to buying fonts is much lower.
    The downside of this is that people may think less of fonts in terms of a precious product or an exceptional purchase. The “aura” of fonts has diminished, and this can be somewhat painful for those who spend years honing a typeface.

Setting up a special offer

Foundries that sign up with MyFonts receive a document outlining the main marketing tools we provide. This includes special offers when launching a new family, as well as special offer discounts on existing fonts.

  • Promotions Editor. Limited-time special offers are set up by the foundries using a web-based tool called Promotions Editor. For each special offer you specify
    • the start date
    • the percentage
    • the number of days it will run.

For newly installed fonts, submit your promo immediately after the new family has been approved for installation on the live site.

    Tips:

  • Keep your offers simple, making it easy for customers to take advantage of your special offers.
  • Make your offers worthwhile. 10% or 20% off usually does not generate many click-throughs.

Special license types

Fonts today are often part of a brand identity or (in 1960s terms) a “house style”. A visual identity is a complex system that establishes a consistent look and feel across numerous platforms and products:

  • logos, signage, stationery
  • printed publications
  • websites, intranets
  • packaging, point-of-sale materials
  • apps
  • and more.

Fonts are central to these identity systems. A consistent use of the same fonts across all media and technologies is a major factor in creating a strong brand or identity.

Organizations acquiring fonts for their visual identity system need much more than the basic font licenses discussed above. Here are the main special licenses MyFonts offers:

  • Multiple user Desktop licenses
  • ‘Pay Once’ and ‘Pay As You Go’ Webfont licenses
  • App licenses
  • Server licenses
  • ePub licenses

By offering these multiple license types via MyFonts, a foundry enables corporate clients to acquire all the licenses they need for a brand identity through ‘one-stop shopping’

Customers and foundries can read more about the license types here. We offer the information in this section to guide you towards developing sustainable business models.

For a comprehensive overview of MyFonts’ licensing models and pricing tables, check out the companion guide to this one:

Font licensing models – Price calculation and pricing tables

Coordination by Jan Middendorp with Michael Pieracci
Key contributors: Florian Hardwig, Dan Reynolds
Contributions from Tiffany Wardle and the MyFonts team

Font Licensing models: Price calculation and pricing tables

This guide offers insight into the technicalities of font pricing, and how pricing tables for larger quantities are calculated. It also outlines the various licensing models for professional and corporate clients available on MyFonts. These tables for calculating pricing, volume discounts, etc.; are not hewn in stone; they can serve as models for customized tables and tariffs.

This is a companion document to our Foundry Guide on Pricing.

Price calculation for license types

Base prices

Before today’s variety of license types were available, customers were ordering them on a custom basis. Over time, several formulas for calculating the base prices for special licensing were tried out.

Below are the formulas that turned out the most effective for making sales. “Base price” applies to the smallest quantity option available (usually a single font). Once the base price for Desktop or Webfont use has been determined, base prices for App, ePub, and Server can be derived from it.

n Desktop
n Webfont
n*1.5 Web + Desktop
n*10 App
n*2 ePub
n*10 Server

Thankfully many customers are interested in purchasing more than the smallest quantity. Like in any other store, price increases with quantity — but price-per-unit will often decrease with quantity. Determining price for greater quantities varies per license type. More on each below.

Desktop

Desktop licensing is ‘Pay Once’. As the name suggests, the license is paid for once. Quantity is based on number of workstation installations, in other words, the number of users of the fonts. You’ll create a Multi-user Pricing Table containing quantity increments and percentages of base price. In this model, price per single unit is reduced with larger quantities as incentive for purchasing larger quantities.

Example

Multi-user Pricing Table
(table abbreviated; it’s possible to have additional rows)
Quantity % of base price
1-5 100%
6-10 190%
11-15 270%
16-20 340%
21-25 420%
26-30 475%
31-35 550%
36-40 555%
41-50 620%

The first entry is very important. Other license type base prices are dependent on this figure.

With this table, if a customer increases quantity to 12 on cart page, the cart will round out their entry to 15, as a license for 15 covers 12, and a license for 10 is insufficient.

When signing up, MyFonts provides a Multi-user Pricing Table similar to the one above, which is a good starting point, and you’re welcome to change these values as you see fit. Remember — if you list with other vendors too, prices cannot be higher on MyFonts.

Terms and restrictions in a Desktop EULA can also be determining factors for purchase. The most commonly asked question by customers is, “Can I use this font in a logo?”. If the answer to this is ‘Yes’ then perhaps this should clearly be mentioned in your EULA. Convoluted EULAs can deter sales; so imagine you’re your own customer reading the EULA. That should encourage the writing to be clear and succinct. Here is an effective example of this from a foundry who frequently appears on the Best Sellers page.

Web font licenses

Web font licensing quantity is based on number of pageviews. There are two options for customers buying your fonts: ‘Pay Once’ or ‘Pay As You Go’. Only one of these can apply for all web fonts listed by a single foundry. Pricing for either option is defined by a price curve (not percentages like with Desktop fonts).

Pay Once

The Webfonts Pricing Table sets multipliers at specific pageview increments to form a price curve. Points on the curve are prices that appear in the cart. The more rows the table contains, the more control there is on the curve. Multipliers are set for specific pageview increments. The table supplied by default is seen in the example below.

Example

Webfonts Pricing Table

n = base price (Desktop 1–5 at 100%)
base price in this example = $24.75
Multiplier Pageview increment
n*1 10,000
n*2 100,000
n*10 1,000,000
n*50 10,000,000
n*250 100,000,000
Total calculated ($)
$24.75
$49.50
$247.50
$1,237.50
$6,187.50

You may change the ‘Multiplier’ and ‘Pageview increment’ figures. Once you’ve entered at least 3 rows, it will build a pricing curve from your samples. Again, add more rows for more control of the price curve.

There is also an option to set an ‘unlimited’ pageview increment. While this option can be attractive, consider all aspects of the market. By offering an ‘unlimited’ license increment, you’re risking loss on recurring revenue. For example, when a customer with a larger website (who pays a lot for their digital assets) pays a one-time fee for the unlimited Pay Once license, they move on — no need to come back and license more pageviews.

For customers that would like to license more pageviews, they’d simply place a new order for the same Pay Once webfont package, for the number of additional pageviews. They can continue using the kit that’s already in use.

Pay As You Go

Webfonts add value to a website. Customers should pay for this value for as long as webfonts appear on their website over time. An alternative option, and we think a more sustainable business model, is the ‘Pay As You Go’ option. This option works nicely for products just coming to market like HTML 5 advertisements. This is a consumption model, where the customer keeps paying for as long as they use the product (similar idea to pre-paying for cellphone minutes). It uses the same table like the one above to define prices on the curve for greater quantities.
The customer pays for a licensed number of pageviews that can be used over time. We provide tools to help the customer know when they've almost used up the quantity licensed, such as email reminders when they’re running low so they can purchase more. They can license more pageviews directly through their MyFonts account.

App licenses

1 Limited number of app installations

This option similarly uses multipliers to define the price curve, but only uses 3 points to define the curve. They are seen in the table below.

n = base price

Quantity Multiplier
50,000 10*n
1,000,000 50*n
5,000,000 100*n

This has finer quantity increments than Desktop. Users can change quantity by +/- 1 increments; price is calculated based on where it falls on the curve, relative to the base price.

2 Unlimited number of app installations

With this option, the price is calculated using the following formula:

10*n

n equals the Desktop base price

As quantity is unlimited, it is removed from the formula entirely.

Server

Server licensing is based on number of server CPU cores, so it has finer quantity increments than Desktop. Users can change quantity by +/- 1 increments. Price is calculated using the following formula:

10(n*quantity)

n equals the Desktop base price

The license is time limited — valid for 1 year. We’ll email the customer when the 1 year mark is approaching in case they’d like to renew by purchasing the Server package again.

ePub licenses

ePub licensing is based on number of titles the font will be embedded within. For example, a single book would count as 1 title, and a sequel would be considered a separate title. It uses finer quantity increments than Desktop, so users can change quantity by +/- 1. Price is calculated using the following formula:

2(n*quantity)

n equals the Desktop base price

Volume discounts

As a general rule, fonts become cheaper as the number of fonts ordered from one typeface family increases. A complete family is usually considerably cheaper than the total of all fonts bought separately. As incentive to purchase more products by the same foundry, volume discounts apply in the cart when multiple SKUs from the same foundry are added to it. The cart recognizes the number of SKUs* by the same foundry, then references their Volume Discount Table. In this table, the foundry sets the ‘Upper Boundary’ and ‘Percentage’ figures.

* SKU = Single Shopkeeping Unit, or single sellable unit — in most case: one font

The cart uses the nearest Upper Boundary that volume doesn’t exceed, until the highest upper boundary. If volume exceeds the highest upper boundary, the percentage for highest upper boundary applies.

Example

Volume Discount Table

Upper Boundary Percentage
1 100
5 75
20 60
1000 50

Using this example:

  • 1 SKU added to cart — cart shows it at full price.
  • 2 SKUs added to cart — cart prices each at 75% of base price (as it exceeds upper boundary of 1, but is less than upper boundary of 5).
  • 18 SKUs added to cart — cart prices each at 60% of base price (as it exceeds upper boundary of 5, but is less than upper boundary of 20).

The Volume Discount Table works in combination with other pricing tables, like the Multi-user Pricing Table. In the cart, Multi-user Discount Table applies first, and price is reduced based on it. Then Volume Discount Table applies to the already reduced price.

Font family pricing

The above table results in rather modest discounts: a family of 20 fonts/styles that costs $40 per single font will not sell at $800 but at 75% of that total: $600 — a price that will still cause many users to decide against licensing the entire family and choose just four single fonts, spending $144.

Many foundries prefer to give customers a stronger incentive to buy a complete family. They establish a family price of, say, $199 or $299, giving the customer flexibility and the foundry a bit more revenue than four basic weights. Part of the logic behind this is that users of a complete family will seldom use all of it, but appreciate the flexibility; after some text they may choose, for instance, to always use the ExtraBold instead of the Bold for enhanced contrast.

Using available MyFonts tools

What sales-related tools or resources do you have, and how can these be used to maximize revenue through optimizing your pricing policy?

Resources at your disposal:

  • Itemized sales reports
  • Control of pricing tables

First, get a better understanding of average orders through sales reports. Once you know the average number of SKUs in an order, as well as the average quantity purchased — you can really hone in on your ‘typical customer’ demographic and adjust each pricing table to modify prices more/less for these customers.

To get a sense of your changes being made, experimentation and checking is the easiest way. In other words, adjust the table figures, add items to the cart as if you were a customer, and see how your table changes modified prices in the cart.

Enjoy your selling experience — and contact MyFonts Foundry Support if you have questions or suggestions.

Coordination by Jan Middendorp with Michael Pieracci
Key contributors: James Minior
Contributions from Tiffany Wardle and the MyFonts team