Font License: Types and Uses ( Explained )

A font license allows the user to use a typeface in certain ways as outlined by the license.  There is a license for every typeface; even it is there for free online typefaces. The designer can create a license of any type. Hence, you need to check if a specific license is required for the typeface you are using commercially. The rules are found in the End-User License Agreement and are “attached” to every font you download or buy. So, let’s know the font licenses and their types and uses

Types of Font Licenses

Font licenses can be confusing for the average person. There are different types of licenses and each one has its own set of permissions. With a font license, you have the right to use the font in a particular way. You can also purchase additional licenses to use the font in other ways.

Fonts cannot be used or installed without a license like other software. Hence, they are also known as a type of computer software. However, this is true for desktop fonts whereas there are different rules for web fonts.

Usually, trademarks, design patents, or copyrights protect typefaces, fonts, and their designers legally, which makes it important to have a license. Obtaining a font license means the company gets compensated for its work. There are different types of font licenses, such as:

Desktop and Print License

This type of license is a basic license that is applicable for most of the typefaces that appear on your computer. You can also install it with any other software you install. With a Desktop and print license, you can use the font on your computer to make static images like designing an image for print. You can use this license for posters, t-shirts, business cards, and mugs.

Web Fonts and Licensing

You can use this license online. With this license, the font is formatted in such a way that browsers can see it properly. This is also known as dynamic font as both the creator and user can see it properly.

In some cases, web fonts are embedded by the designer in the design project to function properly. However, some fonts use host embedding. Most web font services work like this.

Open-Source Licensing

Digital designers like open-source licensing the most. They are free to get, free to use, and free to share. Open-source fonts often come with a standard Open Font License by SIL International, which is an international language expert. The Open Font Licensing is a free license that is applicable for linguistic software engineering. This license has a good scope that allows many things unlike other types of licenses. All you need to do is give proper credits and do not sell anything to use the font.

Commercial Licenses

A commercial license can only be used for fonts meant for commercial usage. With a commercial font license, you can use a typeface with care even if it is written that ‘free to download’.  

If you are working on projects for clients, as a designer you need to use and work with fonts that are licensed by the company, which includes typefaces that are used for the company’s logo. These are also outlined in the style guide of the company. However, you cannot use these fonts for other clients unless they have a license for them.

If the designer is using a font for a client from your collection, then you will need multiple font licenses;  one for your personal use and one for the client.

Uses Of Font License

Font licenses can be confusing for the average person. There are different types of font licenses, and each has its own specific uses. The most common type of font license is a desktop license, which allows the user to install the font on one computer. Web licenses allow the font to be used on websites, and printing licenses allow the font to be used in print documents. There are also special licenses available for software developers and for use with e-books.

A license is necessary for a designer. You need to check the specific license of the typeface you are using. This will keep you away from any license-related hassle in the future. You can use the Font license in many ways.

For Personal Projects

You can use a font license for your personal projects. For example, you can use a desktop license for all the personal work you do that is not meant for any client. With a font license, you can have a collection of typefaces that comes with the software. You can also have the typefaces that you have downloaded for your personal projects.

For Client Projects

If you are working with clients, you will need to work with fonts that the client has licenses for. So, you have to check if the client has a font license before you use any font for a commercial project. Extended licenses are required for commercial projects. Moreover, some of the free fonts also require payment if you use them commercially.

For Digital Projects

You can also use a font license for digital projects. You can buy a plan for fonts that can be used for several projects. With this font license, you do not have to pay for every individual project; only one price is paid for all the projects.


You can obtain your font license by buying or downloading a typeface right from a type vendor, downloading a typeface from a designer, or a website. You can also obtain them by subscribing to an online type of service. You can copy the font if your font license allows it. Another rule is you cannot share fonts among multiple computers even if they are allowed by the corporation.


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