Top 5 Do’s and Don’ts for Managing Fonts

Laura Xu
March 22, 2019

Do you know whether you might be using a font illegally? Most people understand the risk of license infringement for software but many don’t know that fonts are licensed in a similar way.

Here are our top five “do’s and don’ts” that every font user needs to consider when managing fonts. Make sure you aren’t taking unnecessary risk. We hope this helps you feel more confident on your road toward font management success!

 1. Do: Take the time needed to organize your list by foundry.

Keep all purchase paperwork when possible and when not possible, re-purchase or replace the fonts you can’t find licensing for. Also, critically review all of your free fonts and confirm there aren’t special requirements necessary for commercial use. Run an audit at least once a year to make sure you are as compliant as you can be.

Don’t: Assume all fonts in use at your company today are properly licensed. Many companies continue to use fonts that have been around for decades even though their licenses and current usage haven’t been verified in many years. This is a commercial risk worth fixing.

2. Do: Be diligent.

Read your font EULAs carefully and contact the foundry if you are uncertain of the Terms and Conditions prior to publishing with a font. Remember, this pertains to the license agreements for free fonts as well.

Don’t: Assume you can use your fonts any way you want. Most fonts have specific Terms and Conditions and clearly define how they can be used in the end user license agreement (EULA). For example, embedding your fonts in PDFs, documents, or websites may require special licenses. Distributing fonts to freelancers and printers is usually prohibited or requires a special license.

3. Do: Take time to understand the rules when using fonts within your organization.

Knowing which fonts are properly licensed and usable will save your company costly and embarrassing infringement lawsuits. It’s also critical to come up with a simple, yet non-disruptive process within your font purchasing workflow that helps you stay on top of font license agreements.

Don’t: Forget to increase your company’s font licensing IQ when managing fonts. In a survey conducted by Extensis, over 80% of designers admitted they do not read Font License Agreements. Of those that do read Font License Agreements, 78% report being confused by the language.

4. Do: Respect font licensing agreements.

We all know the importance of copyright and ethical issues with plagiarizing. Fonts are the creative brainchild of font designers just like books are proprietary works by authors and publishers.

Don’t: Permit unauthorized sharing of your fonts. Designers often collaborate and enjoy sharing creative ideas. Sometimes fonts will be shared too. Don’t do it! Yes, sharing and generosity are great values, but sharing fonts within your own company is often as illegal as if you shared them with external companies. That’s because many font licenses are restricted by geographical location, department or even to a specific set of machines. Remind yourself and your teams of the possible consequences to your company if you share fonts without authorization.

5. Do: Establish a simple purchasing process to guarantee your company’s name is attached to every license purchased and ensure the purchase receipts and EULA are filed for record keeping.

Don’t: Allow users to purchase fonts on their own credit cards. You’d be surprised by how many companies still allow this, but we can assure you it is a recipe for disaster and a license tracking nightmare. Also, these purchases tend to be licensed to the individual and not the company.

Put your organization to the test! Download our font management risk assessment tool and see if your team is on the right font compliance track.


Laura XuLaura Xu – Email and Event Marketing Manager

Laura Xu is a seasoned content marketer and event manager at Extensis with a passion for crafting digital communications. Laura’s marketing career spans over a decade working in financial and professional services in San Francisco, Hong Kong and London. Whether it’s through a product launch email, event email invitation, or an engaging webinar, Laura knows the power of connecting through technology. After living in sprawling cities with more skyscrapers than trees, Laura is now relishing being back home in Portland, Oregon surrounded by lush green trees and accessible parks. She loves hiking, yoga, meditation, photography, and reading.