Free Font-Spotter Service

Get Help Identifying that "Mystery Font"


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Have you seen a typeface or font somewhere that you just want to know what it is?

(In case you are interested in the topic of what types are 'Best', or 'Good', you might want to read my essay on the subject -- just as a place to start your thinking. I would welcome your comments on it.)

Whether it's for your hobby, or your job, I'll try to help by telling you the name of the font and where you can get it. (I do not sell or distribute fonts, and I do not encourage or condone unauthorized copying and distribution of fonts.)

Most of the fonts seen on my web site are available from MyFonts.com, one of the best, most easily searchable font sites. Please use the link below to buy fonts from MyFonts.com. Referral fees help support this web site.


I support:

There is no charge for my font identification services. (It's one of my hobbies, however I will gratefully accept contributions for support of this web site.)

Just send me a sample of the type (the more letters, the better) in an image you scanned, or point me to a website where you saw it used. You can also fax your sample to me at my CallWave number (775-860-5725). Be sure to include an e-mail address if you want a reply. I will try to e-mail you back within a few hours, as long as I am not on vacation.

e-mail me your font ID question

Look for some of the following in your "Mystery Font".
Try to get them in your sample, if you can
Learn to recognize some features of your "Mystery Font".

Here are the most commonly seen kinds of serifs found on typefaces.
You won't need to be concerned about serif types if you use my new Serif Font ID Guide
. Just pick the features of twelve key letters (a, b, e, g, y, E, J, K, M, R, U, and W) and the Guide will match them to serif font families and show you the font names, foundries, designers, and (in most cases) a sample of the type.
These are some frequent kinds of font ID questions I get.
If your font is like one of these please read the comments before you e-mail me for help.
• Wedding Invitation Scripts


I get many requests from people who are trying to find the same typefaces used by wedding stationers, usually so they can try to do their own printing and save money. What you should know is that many well-known commercial stationers who specialize in formal invitations frequently use typefaces that are not available to the general public. They may use engraving plates, metal type, film typesetting equipment or custom designed fonts. This is because the stationery business has been around much longer than the widespread use of digital type, which began in the mid-to-late 1980's, and because these stationers understand that the way they can charge higher prices will depend on having type and printing methods that most of us cannot afford to duplicate.

My advice in cases like this is to look at typefaces that you know are available (my Script Font ID Guide is a good place to see a wide selection of fonts separated by style category) and be willing to use one of those instead of trying to duplicate a stationer's typeface. The Script Font Reference List, which is linked from each Guide page, shows the sources of fonts. I do not sell or distribute fonts.

Most of the fonts shown on my site are available from MyFonts.com

• Sports Team Jersey Type

Many questions I get are about the names and numbers that you see on the uniforms of well-known baseball and basketball teams. Some of these are much older than digital typefaces, being historic designs that have been nearly unchanged for generations. Even in the case where the logo is relatively new, what teams often use are commercially developed custom type styles. Sometimes the sport leagues help with the design work, but in most cases these are not type styles you can get as fonts. The reason is simple enough -- marketing. If anyone could print out any logo by finding the type on their computer that would cut into the sales of team-branded goods by teams, so it is usual to find that the logos are copyrighted property of the teams and the leagues, and they are custom designed. In fact, it is rare for them not to be custom designed.

'Ballpark Script' (a.k.a. Pilsner); Flashfonts 'Casey' (comes in three widths); Metroscript, from Alphabet Soup, and a more antique, fancier one from Letterhead Fonts, called 'Ephemera'.

• Corporate Logos and Product Brand Names

People are often curious about the lettering that corporations use on the web sites and advertising. In many cases a corporation's identity is closely tied to the way their name is shown, and it is represented by a distinctive logotype. A general rule of thumb might be that the bigger a corporation is, the more likely it's logos and brand names have been custom designed. Just like sports teams, corporations do not want to be easily imitated, and they want the look of their products to be distinctive and recognizable. Sometimes the names alone are distinctive enough, but often the typeface is part of the image that they project to the public. For this reason, corporate branding is a design industry of its own, and many type designers make much better money designing custom type and logos than they would ever make by designing commercial fonts, which are so widely pirated. Remember when you use fonts you didn't license, you discourage the release of new typefaces. This helps kill the type designing opportunities for the designers, as much as it hurts the companies that sell the fonts.

• Informal hand-printed lettering

Frequently people see some quirky, hand printed fonts, like any of us might have printed, that they think it would be cool to use, and they want me to match them. The problem with this is that this kind of font can be made so easily and cheaply that there are probably more of them that you and I will never see again, than there are ones that will be identifiable. In other words, it's usually a waste of time to look for these kinds of fonts, especially if you saw them used on web sites or advertising. A company could have such a font made for them in a few minutes for less than $50, and it would be completely exclusive. My advice in these cases is similar to the wedding invitation fonts -- look for the closest style that you can find in the font collections that feels similar to you and go with that. It's usually not worth the time it would take to look at all the places where fonts like that might be found. My Script Font ID Guide, Part 11, has hundreds of these styles that are available somewhere on the web (but not from me, remember).

Here are some other BOWFIN font ID tools & references
For geometric-shaped letters (mostly without serifs) --> The Bauhaus-Style Font Identification Guide
For multi-line and inline font styles --> The Lined Fonts Identification Guide
For Serif font styles (mostly books, magazines & newspapers --> The Serif Font Identification Guide
For Sans Serif (lineale) fonts --> New Interactive Version The Sans Serif Font ID Guide/Aid
For Script and Hand-lettered fonts --> The Script Font Identification Guide
Script font info and "alias names" --> The Script Font Reference List
Font Books used as References --> The Bowfin Bibliography
Type Supplier Codes Used in the Guides --> Supplier Codes Table
Type Provider Links (Font Sources) --> The Type Providers page

Cartoon by Malcolm Evans (Aug 2004) http://www.evanscartoons.com

e-mail me your font ID question

Date of this page version: 10 February 2014

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