Words; They make up the majority of our presentations, worksheets, and most other things we do in the classroom. How ever many things we write for our students most of us only use a handful of fonts. There’s nothing wrong with Times New Roman, Ariel and the other common fonts that are installed by default on many computers (although personally I am not keen on the over used Comic Sans), but if we all use these same few then all our worksheets and presentations look very similar.
One quick and easy way to make our presentations and worksheets stand out is to use new and different fonts, which happily are to be found free and plentiful on several easy to use websites. These fonts have been created by all sorts of people and shared on these websites for people to use, some without any restrictions and many others for non-commercial use.
Find free fonts
If you type ‘free fonts’ into your favourite search engine then you will find loads of sites with free fonts. The sites vary in quality and ease of use. I am going to tell you about four sites that are all easy to navigate and provide easy downloads of their selection of fonts.
Dafont.com has over 8000 fonts at the time of writing, which are organised into nine main categories such as ‘Fancy’, ‘Gothic’, ‘Script’ and then lots of sub categories. when you have selected a category you can browse the fonts in a list with loads of options for how you view them. You can compare the fonts with your choice of text, choose the size of the preview, whether to include accents and whether to see variants (e.g. bold). There are direct download links so that when you find the font(s) you want downloading them is easy and quick. Dafont.com is probably my favourite font site and is the first I go to when I need a new font.
1001 Free Fonts has been online since 1998 making it ancient in internet terms. With its simple layout, listing fonts with download links and the option of custom previews it doesn’t look it though. You can browse the fonts alphabetically or by category. 1001 Free fonts claims to be the most popular free fonts site on the web with over 1 billion downloads in its 10 year life, so it may well be worth a look.
A simpler site than the previous two, but including 2500 fonts, Get Free Fonts doesn’t have the same polish as dafont or 1001. There are no options to preview with your choice of text or order the list as you want. The fonts are arranged alphabetically by font name, so unless you know the name of the font you want it may be more difficult to find an appropriate one.
Like Dafont.com and 1001 Free Fonts, Urban fonts organises its 8000 free fonts into categories and allows custom preview text. There are lots of great fonts with easy download links and Urban fonts would be a great option, but it is slightly let down by the inclusion of pop up adverts on the site.
Install your new fonts
Once you have got your fancy new fonts downloaded to your computer it’s time to install them. The method of installing fonts varies slightly depending on which operating system. Below are brief instructions for the three most popular.
Before you start you need to make such that your fonts are not in a zip file. If they are, extract them before you begin.
Windows XP: Copy the font file(s) (.ttf, .otf or .fon) into the Fonts folder, which is usually C:\Windows\Fonts.
(You can also get to the Fonts folders via: Start Menu > Control Panel > Appearance and Themes > Fonts)
Windows Vista: Right click on the font files (.ttf, .otf or .fon) and select Install.
Mac OS X: Put the files into /Library/Fonts (for all users), or into /Users/Your_username/Library/Fonts (for you only).
Once you have installed your fonts (or even if you don’t add any new fonts to your system) you may want a way to compare the fonts you have to choose the best one for any particular task. There are a number of font management programs that will allow you to do this. If you are using Windows you could try The Font Thing which is an old, but effective program, or for either Windows or Mac OS Linotype FontExplorer X is a more modern and feature rich option. Both programs are free.