Disclaimer: This is not legal advice, please consider consulting a lawyer or reading the EULA fully for all details.
All paid fonts are paid… Right?! Well, not really! In this day and age, we can easily use paid fonts free of charge, because of software that provides them at no cost. Over the past few months I have have done research to find out platforms that do just that. These fonts, however, may only be used on their websites and not for personal desktop use. The list I compiled is below.
Readymag (website builder)
Readymag is a freemium website builder which provides paid fonts for free via three vendors: Adobe Typekit (known also as Adobe Fonts), Type.today, and WebType. That means 3344 paid fonts for the price of none. The best part? The website you make on ReadyMag is always public, so anyone with the website link can see it. Do please note that the maximum number of projects at any one time is one, so practice some frugality when trying out their product. readymag.com
Cargo (website builder)
Cargo is another website builder, but targeted more at the portfolio-concious avant-garde designer rather than the everyday man. Though its commercial font library may be more limited, there still are a good number of pre-licensed fonts that you can use freely. They state on their website: “Cargo has an extensive, hand-picked collection of premium typefaces from our partnerships with Dinamo and Type Network, complimented by a selection of open source fonts”. These typefaces range from flamboyant display types to sizzling takes on classics, such as the beautiful Alte Haas Grotesk, which is like Helvetica but even more old school. There is less control over advanced typographic settings (unless you want to manually code some CSS), but altogether a very solid selection that caters to all.
Update! Dinamo, the quirky Swiss type foundry, has partnered up with Cargo, adding 3 more typefaces to the website builder’s catalogue: ABC Monument, Favorit, and Diatype. Link.
Adobe Portfolio (another website builder)
This is comparatively similar to Readymag, the only difference being you only get to select fonts from Adobe Fonts. Makes sense, because this online website builder was developed by Adobe. My only gripe is that you have to pay real money in order to get the website public. Readymag is 100% public, Cargo’s only shows your site when you have the cookie in your browser to show that you’re the admin, and Adobe Portfolio is abosulutely private, so when you type your fake website address in your browser, you will get redirected to the main product page. But alas, you still get to experiment with different paid fonts even with these major pitfalls.
Google Slides; Google Docs; Google Sheets
Surprise! You weren’t expecting this! You might say, “since Google apps are free, aren’t their fonts are also free?” You’re half correct, but also half-wrong— because if you dig deeper, you could, if you’re lucky enough, find some unlisted paid fonts hiding behind the catalogue. Here’s a video below for reference:
In the case above, I have used the paid font Avenir to style my text. Other paid fonts I have undug include Bell MT (a transitional style serif — a bit like Baskerville), Proxima Nova (gemotrical sans serif design), and CG Times, which, according to a Google Search, is owned by Monotype and is a cheap reproduction of Times New Roman. I suppose it is for people who do not have the default Times on their computer. Linux users, I guess?
But, how and why do these paid fonts appear on a clearly free-fonts catalogue? I believe this is a partnership between Monotype and Google Fonts, that hopes to give publicity to the former’s font library. Be warned however: These fonts generally only come in a single style or are in a limited range. If you do find some more, you may want to email me the font name and I will continue updating this blog post.
2 thoughts on “How to use paid fonts for free (legally)”
I apologise for the lack of a featured image in this post. I could not think of any good one to create. Edit: I’ve now added one.
Hi Thomas, thanks for sharing about how to access fonts for free, and the liberties and restrictions that come with different platforms and arrangements offering them!