Type Tips

Font Formats & Licensing Options

FontShop is a collection of foundries—mostly small, independent companies—that make fonts and put them here so you can find them and license them for your projects. Each foundry offers standard desktop fonts, the kind you install on your computer and use for, say, designing and printing business cards. There are also webfonts for webpages, and specially licensed fonts for embedding in eBooks and apps. Not all foundries offer these latter options, and it’s up to each foundry to decide which font formats they want to produce, and what their licenses allow you to do with the fonts. Since every foundry is different, it’s hard to say without getting specific which formats allow what uses, but here’s a general picture of what’s available:


All licenses or End User License Agreements (the foundry’s terms you agree to before downloading their fonts) are prominently displayed on each foundry page. For example, here’s Frode Helland and Sindre Bremnes’ foundry, Monokrom. Find the link just below the foundry description text. Links to the corresponding license are also at the bottom of each family page, and at checkout. At the top of each family page, find a concise graphic on the line just below the Buy button showing which licenses and formats are included. For example, FF Quixo is available for desktop, web, and mobile.


Desktop fonts are licensed based on the number of users. Within desktop, there are two main font formats our foundries deal in: OT (OpenType), and TT (TrueType). Though the technical differences between these two formats once determined compatibility with different systems, they’re now essentially interchangeable. TrueType fonts remain the standard for interoperability between PC and Mac platforms, while OpenType fonts are the most readily accepted by print houses and service bureaus in the graphic arts industry. The creation of the OpenType format in the late 1990s brought with it greater character capacity and rich substitution features, which gave a single font the ability to include both upper & lowercase and small caps, for example, and allow the typographer to easily highlight a passage and switch between the two.


The webfonts that FontShop carries are self-hosted, the kind you host on your own webserver*. These are usually licensed for a single website, and based on the estimated number of pageviews over a specified period of time. The industry standard formats for webfonts are WOFF (Web Open Font Format), and EOT (Embedded OpenType), but some webfonts also come in Web TTF. These are marked simply ‘Web’ on the FontShop site.

*Webfonts from our house brand, FontFont, include a code redeemable at the webfont service Typekit, in case you’d prefer to have them hosted for you. Through this partnership you can add your Web FontFonts to their free Trial account. Once you’ve purchased the fonts on FontShop.com you will find a link on your order history page. All you need to do is click on the button to send your license and fonts to Typekit, then follow their instructions to add a single line of code to your site and your fonts will be added immediately. Typekit’s free Trial account has certain limitations, please see their website for full details. Hosting your Web FontFonts through Typekit is purely optional. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us with your order receipt and we will help you through everything necessary to get your fonts up and running on Typekit.


Embeddable fonts for eBooks, apps, games, and editable PDFs, including FontFont's App+ fonts are licensed over a given period of time, and then renewed as needed. TrueType is the standard format for embedded fonts.