Basics of Font Licensing

Basics Of Font Licensing Every Designer Must Know in 2024

Typography is one of the crucial resources to consider in the design, specifically web design. Therefore, any developer ensures to meet the vitality of typography. But how do they go about ensuring everything is up on the scale per client design requirements? Here, we infix the spirit of font licensing – it is either a creator or breaker of your web design project. Regardless of whatever you are working on for your client, ensuring a specific font will give a website its uniqueness. Choosing such a font a maintaining it all through the design ensures consistency and commonness among all the features in your design. Achieving aestheticism in each of your letterings comes with the consideration of crucial font factors such as nuances, proportions, and even curves – proper implementation of these critical elements acts as the determiners of the success of your design. Font pairings additionally top up everything on your design and thus achieving more uniqueness.

With the successes on the front line, you must understand the pitfalls that come with the use of font licensing. Choosing unlicensed fonts may sometimes set you in a difficult situation as a developer and, thus, the need to check selected fonts for full licensing and intended use. Sometimes, you might work on an entire project and even ensure that the website is up and running on the internet. However, clients might later discover an influx of legal letters from a type foundry. Thus this might be a nightmare for the designer and developer, considering that there needs to be a re-work on already done and published work. Such cases might even lead to the developer and designer being sued, which tatters the professional reputation of your work, label, or company. It is thus essential to have an in-depth exploration of every type of font license with proper understanding and adherence to the licensing terms.

Before diving even more deeply, let us understand the fundamentals of font licensing. Do we all understand font licensing? Probably not, and thus let’s explore and understand what it is along with its fundamentals.

Understanding font-licensing

A font license is an authoritative procedure allowing a license owner to use a given typeface. It is essential to understand that every typeface comes with a license, regardless of whether it’s a free or paid version. Fundamentally, fonts serve as any other software that users install on their computers. However, installation of the fonts requires some license by the users. Like any other software, the security and ownership protection authority protects typefaces and fonts with trademarks, patents, and copyrights. It is crucial to understand that font licenses occur in a way that awards permission to use fonts regardless of the location. Therefore, you can use any font anywhere with its associated license.

Fonts and typefaces 

In the initial section, it’s probably true that you might be wondering about the occurrence of a new term – font-face. Is it similar to a font? Font and typefaces frequently occur interchangeably, however, with distinctions. Usually, a typeface is a set of font families with aesthetic features. On the other hand, the font is a section of characters with common styles, weights, and sizes.

With the fundamental knowledge of font licensing, let’s understand the different types of font licenses and their usage.

Font licensing and its usage 

Font licensing and its usage 

Web font license

As the name suggests, the font license usually serves the needs of web users on the internet. A web font is thus a font used over the internet. Usually, the fonts are such that the font owner and users need a font for their proper visibility over the web. Some formatting is, therefore, essential on these fonts for browser furnishing and visibility.

Commercial license

Using commercial typefaces needs extreme care and adherence to the associated licenses. Regardless of the provision of freeness in some commercial licenses, handling and using the fonts is always essential. You need to acquire a font license as a designer with a more significant investment in commercial fonts. It is thus crucial to understand that you just don’t go for any license. It is always essential to ensure that the license you go for rhymes with the kind of project or work you want to work on. Providing the specificity of the font license gives you total control in using the fonts in most aspects of your project.

Desktop and printing license

A desktop and printing license is one of the primary font licenses common to famous typefaces previously existing on your computer. With the license, the users of these fonts have absolute rights to utilize fonts preinstalled in the computer in designing crucial resources for future printing.

Open source licensing

The commonly used fonts among digital designers are open-source fonts. Usually, these fonts come to the user free to use, share and advance. However, regardless of their free nature, the fonts come with an open-source license that users need to obtain for font usage. The license associated with this font is called Open-Source Font License under the provision of SIL international. Digital users of these licenses enjoy various benefits, such as the ability to modify and distribute the related fonts.

Adobe font licenses

Creative Cloud users undeniably have access to thousands of fonts packaged together. However, reading through licensing information before font usage is essential. Partly, the fonts occurring on the creative cloud are adobe fonts. Such fonts, too, come with their respective licenses. Adobe fonts are crucial, and working with them requires strict follow-up on some essential issues. For instance, some of these expire; therefore, before considering their license, you should majorly check their expiration date. It is also vital to understand that these fonts don’t fully work in server applications. Therefore, when working with some server applications, it will help if you avoid these fonts and consider server font licenses instead. However, in cases where you find them used in server applications, further purchases of related licenses to support proper working on mobile and server applications.

Exclusive font licenses

Open-source fonts are available for use at any time. However, such fonts may lack crucial features and characteristics you might be looking for and, therefore, might lower the quality of your work. It is thus essential to consider excellent and exclusive options even though they are available and open for use.

App and ePub font licenses

Clients sometimes might reach a designer and developer who need to design a website along with its constituent app. In such a demand, the developer should understand that they don’t need to use a web font license for both. As most would assume the coverage of the web font on the app, it is essential to understand that it’s not the case here. There is, therefore, the need to consider getting an app font license. It thus imposes an extra cost on the client with more cost ramping, especially when the application has a great user base.

Ebook publishing and republishing might need that you use specific fonts. Therefore, if you considered a different font when releasing or publishing a new book, you might need to re-license your font when publishing the book or updating it. The case isn’t so different from the web–app example.

Server font licenses

You will need server font licenses when you’re a consistent designer and developer of print-on-demand applications. It is because such applications will mainly demand the usage of server fonts. A good instance of this font usage by developers and designers lies in an application where users have a choice to make on fonts used before printing their desired resources. A significant pitfall that comes with such a license is the limit that is imitated on the license. Also, it might be a requirement to consider purchasing licenses per CPU, depending on your server package.

Unlimited font licenses

Mostly, larger organizations will always have different undertakings when working with fonts. Usually, using funds in such cases requires you to acquire unlimited font licenses. Obtaining the license gives the organization unlimited use of fonts on many computers with no extra limits.

Avoiding problems with font licensing

There are many fonts put on the internet for use by everyone. Some fonts are open source, and others require you to provide some token to use. Considering these non-free font licenses, their owners ensure to provide a proper channel in which to buy the fonts. However, anomalies might often occur when trying to access the fonts. Usually, such anomalies set in when you don’t have the correct license for the payable fonts. It is thus crucial to ensure you get a proper and genuine license as a resolution to the common problems you might face with such fonts.


Fonts are crucial elements in every aspect associated with design and development. Whether open-source or payable fonts, it is vital to understand the basics of font licensing and how to work with it.

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Written by:

Muzammil K

Muzammil K is the Marketing Manager at Aalpha Information Systems, where he leads marketing efforts to drive business growth. With a passion for marketing strategy and a commitment to results, he's dedicated to helping the company succeed in the ever-changing digital landscape.

Muzammil K is the Marketing Manager at Aalpha Information Systems, where he leads marketing efforts to drive business growth. With a passion for marketing strategy and a commitment to results, he's dedicated to helping the company succeed in the ever-changing digital landscape.