How to Preview Fonts and Print Font Samples

Use Font Book to Preview Fonts and Print Font Samples

Font Book preview
Font Book allows you to preview fonts.

 Screenshot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Selecting the right font for a project can sometimes be a difficult task. Many applications display previews of fonts in their Font menu, but the preview is limited to the name of the font; you don't get to see the entire alphabet, not to mention numbers, punctuation, and symbols. You can use Font Book to see the whole enchilada.

Previewing Fonts

  1. Launch Font Book, located at /Applications/Font Book

  2. In the sidebar select one of the Font collections or choose All Fonts.

  3. In the list of fonts, that is displayed click the disclosure triangle next to the font's name to display its available typefaces (such as Regular, Italic, Semibold, Bold).

  4. Click the typeface you want to preview.

The default preview displays a font's letters and numbers (or images, if it's a dingbat font). Use the slider on the right side of the window to reduce or enlarge the display size of the font, or use the Size dropdown menu in the top right corner of the window to select a particular type size.

In addition to previewing a font in the Font Book window, you can also preview it in a separate, smaller window. In the list pane of the Font Book app, double-click a font's name to preview it in a separate window. You can open multiple preview windows if you want to compare two or more fonts before making a final selection.

If you want to view the special characters available in a font, click the View menu (Preview menu in older versions of Font Book) and select Repertoire. Use the slider to reduce the display size of the characters, so you can see more of them at one time.

If you would like to use a custom phrase or group of characters each time you preview a font, click the View menu and select Custom, then type the characters or phrase in the display window.

Printing Font Samples Options

There are three options for printing samples of a font or font collection: Catalog, Repertoire, and Waterfall. If you want to save paper, you can print the samples to PDF (if your printer supports it) and save the files for later reference.


For each selected font, the Catalog option prints the entire alphabet (uppercase and lowercase, if both are available) and the numbers one through zero. You can select the size of the letters by using the Sample Size slider in the Print dialog box. You can also choose whether or not to show the font family by checking or unchecking Show Family in the Print dialog box. If you choose to show the font family, the font's name, such as American Typewriter, will appear once at the top of the collection of typefaces. The individual typefaces will be labeled by their style only, such as bold, italic, or regular. If you choose not to show the font family, then each of the typefaces will be labeled by its entire name, such as American Typewriter Light, American Typewriter Bold, etc.


The Repertoire option prints a grid of glyphs (punctuation and special symbols) for each font. You can select the size of the glyphs by using the Glyph Size slider in the Print dialog box; the smaller the type size, the more glyphs you can print on a page.


The Waterfall option prints a single line of text at multiple point sizes. The default sizes are 8, 10, 12, 16, 24, 36, 48, 60, and 72 points, but you can add other point sizes or delete some point sizes in the Print dialog box. The sample displays the uppercase alphabet, followed by the lowercase alphabet, followed by the letters one through zero, but because each point size is limited to a single line, you'll only see all of the characters at the smaller point sizes.

Font Book's print dialog box.
Print Font Book reports either to your printer or a PDF file.  Screenshot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

To Print Font Samples

  1. From the File menu, select Print.

  2. If you only see a basic print dialog box, you may need to click the Show Details button near the bottom to access the available printing options.

  3. From the Report Type drop-down menu, select the type of sample you want to print (Catalog, Repertoire, or Waterfall).

  4. For the Catalog and Repertoire samples, use the slider to select the sample or glyph size.

  5. For the Waterfall sample, choose the font sizes if you want something other than the default sizes. You can also choose whether or not to Show Font Details, such as family, style, PostScript name, and manufacturer name, in the report.

  6. If you want to print to PDF rather than paper, select this option from the Print dialog box.

  7. Click the Print button when ready