Fonts: Commercial vs. Personal Use

Posted by Sarah Burzio on

I found a font on the internet, so it must be ok to use.

Wrong.

Oh, well that sucks. But surely the fonts that came with my computer are fine to use on a organization’s project, right?

Wrong again.

No way, but it’s on my computer!

___

It’s an easy mistake to make. But just like images and photographs, fonts need to be licensed to be used commercially.

Microsoft and Apple includes fonts that are available for your personal use. That fine print you click “accept” on when you first set up your computer basically states that you’re only allowed to use the included fonts for things like term papers, letters to your grandma, and birthday signs.

PERSONAL USE FONTS

A lot of free fonts online are labelled as “free for personal use” or “for personal use only” and can only be used on documents/designs/invitations/social media graphics which are made by you or by someone who is making it for you for free. If you're trading services or paying someone for their time, they need to use commercial use fonts. Some examples of personal use fonts are:

  • A wedding invitation you design
  • A friends baby shower invitation you design
  • A book report/essay/paper for school
  • Your personal blog/website (as long as it doesn’t include things like a portfolio with a link where people can pay for your services).

COMMERCIAL USE FONTS

Commercial fonts are licensed for ANY project where financial gain is the ultimate goal. This is basically any organization — even a non-profit — and includes:

  • Invitations/brochures/any printed item that leaves your office
  • Logos/advertisements/merchandise
  • Websites for any company or organization who asks for donations or sells goods or services

But wait, there is hope!

FREE FOR COMMERCIAL USE

Free for commercial use fonts are a great way to get

Note: sites like 1001fonts.com, dafont, and others do not typically count as professional fonts you can legally get for free. There are a few exceptions mixed into those sites, but I tend to steer clear.


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