The Tech Deck

How to correctly identify a font

Because I get asked this all the time, I thought I'd share with you the best way to identify a font.

  1. Does it look like Helvetica? It's probably Arial.
  2. Does it look like a restaurant menu? It's probably Papyrus.
  3. Does it look like the very handwriting of God? Comic Sans.
  4. Still can't identify your font? Try What The Font (WTF)

How to use WTF

Upload an image that contains your typeface:

Hit the big green "continue" arrow and you'll get a screen that asks you to identify the characters contained in your image:

One more time with the green arrow, and voila! A list of potential candidates. In this case, WhatTheFont correctly identified Maple Sans, a wonderful grotesque from the Process Type Foundry:

Sometimes WTF doesn't work, in which case you'll have to hit the forums or the blogs. More likely, ask your local designer who has spent countless hours devouring the Manual of Typographic Style or other ultra font-nerdy books. But please, before you do, at least attempt steps 1-4 first.

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Daniel Gayle
Newsroom developer for The Spokesman-Review. Dan is responsible for most of the front end development on, along with working with reporters to improve their storytelling capabilities.

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