Have you ever seen a font you love but don’t know the name of it? There are hundreds of font sites & foundries on the internet & trying to search each & every one can turn into a nightmare.

Mr ExD paints commercial signs by hand … shop signs, window signs, blackboard signs  – you name it, he does it. Over the years we have developed a system where I set up the lettering to scale using my design software, print it off & he uses this as a template.

Generally we have a fair bit of freedom with font styles. Clients often have a vague idea of what they want … script & capitals, old style, pictorial etc. That works fine until we need to match branding & the client is clueless what font has been used because they don’t have a brand style guide!

Usually I have a small number of letters to work with from the logo so with that I go off & do research. Enter one of my favourite tools – IDENTIFONT. Identifont is an independent, internet directory of free digital fonts as well as those available for purchase. It uses a set of easy tools to match typefaces to your answers to a set of visual questions. Let me show you how it works…

identifont tutorialThe image I’m working with is a single word from the clients logo. There are a number of distinctive elements in individual letters which I will be looking for.

It’s a narrow bold font. Sans serif (no little tails at the end of strokes). The letter ‘A’ has a rounded top, the ‘O’s’ have squared corners & the ‘K’ meets in the center of the upward stroke. So let’s see how we go finding out the name of the font … or at the very least getting a near match

limited set of letters

Because I only have a limited set of letters to work with I’m going to filter those letters. After all there is no point in being questioned about what the ‘Q’ looks like when I don’t know!


serif or sans?

Do the letters have little tails on the end? These are called serifs, no tails is sans, none.

The idea is that you either click the image which is most correct or if you’re not sure go for the button.

the 'K' junction

Because the ‘K’ generally has distinctive elements let’s look at it. What style are the diagonal strokes of the ‘K’?


are the strokes upright or sloped? If they are sloped is it to the left or to the right?

the 'A' style

Remember how I said the A was quite distinctive, here we choose parallel verticals…


The Blackletter typeface (also sometimes referred to as Gothic, Fraktur or Old English) was used in the Guthenburg Bible, one of the first books printed in Europe. This style of typeface is recognizable by its dramatic thin and thick strokes, and in some fonts, the elaborate swirls on the serifs.


Are the characters solid, outlined/shaded/patterned?

the 'B'

how far does the center bar of the ‘B” extend?


The ‘W’ is pretty important. How many terminals does the top of the w have? I say it has 3 upper terminals.

still on the 'W'

What style are the center strokes of the ‘W’?

segmented or dotted?

Are the characters whole or segmented rr dotted?


Are the character outlines smooth or corroded or jagged?


This one is a bit of a doozy! I know the font definitely isn’t pictorial, & I don’t think it’s abstract but there are no other options, so I’m going to opt for ‘not sure’ on this one!

the options

Houston, we have lift off!

The system has presented us with 8 options, lets have a quick look at them. This one empire is too thin

empire (FB)

far too thin!


too narrow!


hmm, now that’s an odd one to throw in!

All the fonts identfont has given me are fonts I don’t have in my collection. Now, if the font was a perfect match I would be happy to pay for it & pass the cost onto the client, however none of them are a perfect match. So it’s back to the drawing board.

I actually don’t need to replicate the word “Blackwood” in this sign, but we need to use the client’s branding to write the word “DINING”. With that in mind a strong recognition of the distinct characteristics of the font, I went searching through my collection of fonts.

Voila, I came up with Bebas Neue which is really close. I kerned the letters (adjust the spacing between the letters) & voila, who would know the difference at a glance?

identifont.com tute 021

Next time you’re looking for a specific font, give identifont.com a try?

We’d love to hear how you go, please post a comment below…