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5 Font Distribution Best Practices That Save You Time, Money, and Stress

Brand marketers, agencies, and digital media professionals are some of the most innovative people on the planet. But new social media platforms and unfamiliar markets aren’t all you have to contend with.

One of the worst bottlenecks for your productivity is something far simpler: font distribution.

How do you make sure everyone on your team can access the right fonts at the right time? And even more importantly, how do you keep track of your font licensing so you only purchase the fonts you need?

Before we share our top 5 font distribution best practices, here’s what it’s costing you:

Time and money. Installing fonts manually on one machine at a time can add hours to every new job for your clients. Installing fonts remotely is a giant leap forward, but this is only one piece of the puzzle. If your team members can’t immediately find what they need, they might end up wasting hours on a fruitless search. And when the incorrect fonts are used to produce collateral, whitepapers, or digital media, this can lead to expensive re-dos and even more wasted time.

Tracking issues. Without a proper font distribution process, your team has little — if any — insight into which fonts are being used. Some fonts may be underutilized which can result in purchasing more font licenses than you need. Proper tracking and reporting can give you a meaningful way to make better font purchase decisions.

Unhappy employees. “Which Helvetica do they want us to use?” Sadly, questions like this are all too common in organizations that lack a clear font distribution system. It’s frustrating when you don’t have the fonts you need to do your job. But it’s even worse when you don’t have any sense of which fonts are the right fonts.

Legal concerns regarding font licensing. If you don’t have a simple way to manage font licensing, you’re skating on thin ice. Without a controlled font distribution process, unlicensed fonts can find their way into your organization. Even worse, members of your team might unknowingly release custom fonts into the wild. Any of these missteps could potentially lead to litigation, which is the last thing anyone wants.

A little research and preparation now can save you tons of time down the road. And if you learn font distribution best practices then you won’t get caught in a font licensing conundrum. Here are our top five font distribution best practices to alleviate these persistent concerns:

Five Font Distribution Best Practices

1. Decide how you want to organize your font collection

We recommend organizing your teams by workgroups. Within each workgroup you will assign a specific group of fonts to a particular group of users. Here are three common methods to consider when you set up your workgroups:

  • User Type: user types may vary, but we commonly hear about editorial, design, and production user types. These different groups have different needs and will use fonts for different reasons.
  • Client: Every client is unique and so are the fonts they require. Companies want a specific brand identity and one of the ways they do this is by choosing a unique font, or creating and commissioning their own typeface. Organizations may also select special groups of fonts to represent their brand.
  • Project: Just as every client is unique, each project has its keys to success. Yet since projects don’t have to be client-specific, sometimes grouping users and fonts by project makes more sense.

2. Ensure font compliance with user permissions

If you haven’t already guessed, font licensing is a vital aspect of proper font distribution. One of the easiest ways to be compliant and avoid piracy issues is to set up user permissions. Instead of your whole department or company having access to certain fonts, only people with the rights to activate particular fonts have permission to use them.

Once you customize permissions for different workgroups, you can ensure your teams stick to the brand guidelines for every job. If you enact appropriate permissions for each of your workgroups, you can avoid unintentional font licensing slipups. And when your teammates only see your approved fonts, you can count on less frustration and higher productivity. 

3. Choose roles

Who is responsible for selecting, purchasing, and uploading fonts into your system? Is it your Lead Graphic Designer? Is it someone in your IT department? It’s time to end the guessing games around font management. Once you establish roles for each of these vital functions, you can sidestep many of the issues related to font errors, duplicate fonts, and font licensing challenges.

4. Keep a record of your font licenses and track usage

As we mentioned earlier, font distribution is much more than just installing fonts remotely. And if you simply let your users install fonts on Photoshop, , or Sketch, you won’t have any visibility after that point.

Proper font distribution should give you peace of mind when it comes to font licensing. With the right guidelines in place, you can find out exactly who has access to specific fonts and who’s activating them. You can also shut the door on unlicensed fonts and prevent custom fonts from eroding brand integrity.

When you understand all the details of fonts used in your organization, you can allocate the right number of licenses for each of your projects. It all comes back to saving time and money. If you discover fonts you don’t need, then you can stop spending money there and redirect it somewhere more profitable. Keeping track of all this can be a huge challenge, but font management software can help.

5. Pick the right enterprise font management software:

What’s the best way to make your font distribution program a success? Choose the best font management software for your team. The right font management software will definitely save you time and money. But it can also simplify font licensing compliance and give hours of productivity back to your team every week.

Look for a font management solution that will allow you and your teammates to easily compare fonts side by side. Check for the ability to search for a font by specific type and set up user permissions by workgroups. The right software should let you view your font collection in your favorite design apps so you don’t have to install fonts in, Illustrator, or Sketch every time you start a new project. And finally, make sure your font management software offers reports so you can see which font licenses need to be purchased and which ones need to be dialed back.


It takes a team effort to set up an effective font distribution system, and the results are worth it. With the right processes in place you can look forward to greater productivity, less frustration, and better insight into your font licensing.


The Onion found a better way to manage font distribution at scale.