Typography enthusiasts can identify most fonts by name. However, it’s always useful to explore fonts using visual similarities – in case you wanted to shake things up a bit. Every typeface has its merits; hell, even Comic Sans work as an attention-grabber because it’s so despised. But with so many free fonts available on the internet, which ones should you use?
Google Fonts, hosts hundreds of typefaces with multiple fonts; meaning you might spend hours looking for the perfect one for your project. Design consultant firm IDEO’s Font Map helps you do exactly that. Their interactive tool lets you browse through fonts by clicking on them and seeing similar ones nearby. Or you can simply find one by searching for fonts by name.
IDEO software designer Kevin Ho built the map using a machine learning algorithm that can sort fonts by visual characteristics; like weight, serif or san-serif, and cursive or non-cursive.
“Designers need an easier way to discover alternative fonts with the same aesthetic . So I decided to see if a machine learning algorithm could sort fonts by visual characteristics, enabling designers to explore type in a new way,” wrote Kevin.
If you’re pressed for time, this experiment is a lifesaver. Even if you’re not a designer, the map is pretty fun to get lost in. Just input the name of any font and the resulting font map organizes more than 750 fonts available for free through Google Fonts; should you want to download them.
Take a look at some examples below and give Font Map a go for yourself.
If you’re interested in someone else picking for you, check out the best Google Fonts for your next project.
Daniel is an Art Director and Graphic Designer with over a decade of experience in advertising and marketing in the Greater Toronto Area.