What The Font

Stephen Yagielowicz
Designers looking for an easy way to add a distinctive level of style and unique individuality to a project often turn to typography to leverage their other graphical elements. To maximize the creativity of these efforts, using unusual yet still readable fonts is the key if you want your site or other project to stand apart visually from its competitors.

To ease the process of font selection, MyFonts.com offers a variety of tools. Boasting the world's largest collection of fonts, the site allows users to find fonts for their projects, identify fonts they have seen elsewhere, to try fonts before buying them, and to organize fonts they like.

Fonts are searchable based upon their designer, foundry, price, technical specs, user ratings, and more. The latest additions to the font library are updated daily, along with the top 50 best-selling fonts, the most popular new fonts, tags using descriptive keywords, languages the font supports, as well as by classification; for example, serif and sans-serif. Special promotions and random fonts are also displayed.

MyFonts' most useful and intriguing feature, however, is its "WhatTheFont" feature. "Seen a font in use and want to know what it is?" asks the company website. "Submit an image to WhatTheFont to find the closest matches in our database."

For users not wanting to use the automated feature, or unable to find the font they are looking for with it, the site offers "cloak-draped font enthusiasts [to] lend a hand in the WhatTheFont Forum."

When supplied with a proper font image, however, the automated WhatTheFont system provides remarkably accurate results — all that is required is that you upload an image file or enter a URL. Best results by submitting text that is as horizontal as possible, has letters around 100 pixels tall and that are not touching each other.

MyFonts advises that the number of characters in a scanned image makes a significant difference in the accuracy of the search results and so suggests limiting the image to 50 characters max. When trying to identify a font that is very similar to others, use as many characters as possible or a total of 23 and use characters that are unique to the font. Also, space the characters apart more than is usual. Scan font images at 300 dpi and save as a 300 dpi grayscale TIFF file. MyFonts.com offers some further suggestions.

The company has also released an iPhone app that allows users to identify the fonts in a photo or web graphic. "Ever seen a great font in a magazine ad, poster, or on the web and wondered what font it is?" states the app's promo ad. "Whip out your iPhone and snap a photo, and WhatTheFont for iPhone will identify that font in seconds!"

For designers seeking creative inspiration wherever they find it, such a tool is hard to beat.