We graphic designers get the reputation of being able to identify any typeface (or font) upon command.

“What font is that?”

“Helvetica Condensed.”

“How can you tell?”

“Just look at the capital R! It’s so obvious.”

I guess it’s a somewhat well-founded stereotype. However, now and again you do run across a mysterious font which you need to replicate. How do identify it?

I came to this precise predicament not too long ago. We have a new client who supplied us a hard copy of their current catalog. We were asked to design another piece of collateral, but were not supplied their corporate font package.

I discovered a resource called Identifont.com. I call it a “resource” because it is so much more than just a cool website.
The folks over at Identifont have developed a sophisticated web-based interface which allows someone to – coincidentally enough – identify a font. By placing numerous, specific qualifiers on each font family and then asking you to pick between 4 choices on each qualifier, the system slowly whittles down the possible fonts based on your answers.

And it works! I found my font with very little effort. Once your font is identified, they even go so far as to tell you the origin of the font. Designer. Year created.

And of course, there is a marketing tie-in with the various font distributors, allowing you to purchase the font in the event that you don’t already own it.