I started 'collecting' fonts in 1999 like a magpie feathering my nest with treasured shiny objects I purchased many and while I have never intentionally pirated fonts I have lots on my system that I do not own license too. Some are open source of 'free' (although many only free for personal use)... Others from a collection of student fonts that were for academic use only. Many have been supplied with client projects and some from workplaces that transferred to my personal macs when working from home. Five years ago I started a now defunct wordpress blog documenting the clean up and archiving of these fonts. It is still a work in progress but I have been slowly cleaning and filtering my collection to ensure I am only using fonts I have license too.

I have been burnt previously by purchasing a particular font for a brief presenting it to a client and them not approving the typeface. So like many designers I often want to mock up work for a client in a particular typeface but do not want purchase the font until the client has seen and approved. For display type and branding the best option to date has been taking low res screen grabs of words which is far from ideal. But as a publication designer who needs to show sample pages and chapters with body copy this has really limited my options to working with text fonts I already own.

So I was thrilled to read about the new free demo font initiative from Fontspring. They are generously producing limited character set trial versions of their Fonts for you to use in design mock ups.

Fontspring's Demo Fonts are trial versions of your favorite typefaces that you download, install and use like any other font. There are no third-party apps to install, no background-running processes talking secretly to our servers. These are real, live font files that work in any of your apps.

Here’s how it works: We take an original font, subset it down to a smaller character set, roughly basic-Latin, and then modify the name in your font menus. You then install that font the way you normally do. Open your design software and mock-up your artwork with them. After you get client approval, come back to Fontspring, purchase the full version, and you’re done.

Get started today! Just create an account, find a participating font family and click the Download Demo Fonts button. You can also see a list of all fonts supporting demos at Fontspring.com/demo.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What am I actually allowed to use Demo Fonts for?
You can use Demo Fonts for anything, as long as usage remains a mock-up. This includes print, web, app, ebook, broadcast, whatever. As soon as the artwork moves from mock-up, to final art, you will need to purchase the appropriate license, regardless of whether it is for personal or commercial use.

Do you have Demo Fonts for every font?
Thousands of our fonts are available as Demo Fonts right now, but not our entire collection. However, new Demo Fonts are coming online all the time. If there is a Foundry you’re really hoping to get on board, you should let them know how much you love their fonts and want to try them yourself!

How many Demo Fonts can I download?
You can download as many Demo Fonts as you like. Please use them and try them. We do not limit the number that you can download.

How long can I keep Demo Fonts installed?
You can keep Demo Fonts installed for as long as you need. We do not limit your time allotment. Keep them on hand to check in future projects without having to download them again.

I’m a student, can I use these?
Yes, as long as you use this within the bounds of a class project and not other personal or commercial work. When in doubt, send us an email!

Aren’t you afraid of people stealing these?
While we are not afraid of “pirates”, we have modified the Demo Fonts to make them less valuable to would-be thieves. For instance, the number 4 is missing from every Demo Font. This doesn’t diminish its value to you as a designer, but does for someone wishing to steal it. People who think it is ok to steal fonts and misuse font licenses are not our customers.

Do I have to install anything for Demo Fonts to work?
No, you don’t need to install any software. Demo Fonts do not rely on us stealthily syncing them to your computer, unlike other font services such as Fontstand, SkyFonts and Typekit, which all require background-running software. At Fontspring, our trial fonts are just plain-vanilla font files that you install yourself.