A Beginner's Guide to Finding Lookalike Fonts

Tips to find font lookalikes

Dismantled white keyboard on pink background.

 Chris Parsons / Getty Images

Which fonts look most like Helvetica? What's a good substitute if you don't have Staccato? Many times, companies produce their own versions of another company's font. Occasionally the names for lookalike fonts are similar such as Lithos and Lithographic, but often the names are totally dissimilar as in Perpetua and Lapidary 333.

Online Databases

Because there are so many fonts on the market, you might need some help finding fonts that look like other fonts. There are several databases available on the internet that provide this service — Identifont and Fontspring are two. You type in the name of the font you are looking for and the site provides the names and, usually, visual samples of any fonts that are similar in appearance. Then, it is just a matter of comparing the font you are trying to match to the available suggestions.

If you find the name of a possible substitute and the website doesn't have the font, the task of locating the lookalike font begins. If the font name includes the foundry, start there. Corel fonts can be found with many of their products. Some companies, such as URW, provide their fonts to other vendors to include with their products. You can often find the font you need by examining the fonts that came with the software you already own. 

Matching Fonts to a Printed Sample

If you don't have the name of the font you are trying to match, you can scan and upload a sample of the type as it appears on a printed piece to one of the websites that identify fonts from images. Font Squirrel and MyFonts both supply this service, as well as others.

Type Foundry Abbreviations

Often, the typeface origin is indicated in the font name. Many Bitstream fonts carry BT as part of the font name, for example. Be on the lookout for these font source abbreviations that indicate the font maker and check out their websites first when looking for fonts.

  • A - Adobe Systems Incorporated
  • BAG - Berthold AG
  • BT - Bitstream, Inc.
  • CC - Corel Corporation
  • CW - CompuWorks
  • DTC - Digital Type Company
  • ELF - Elfring Soft Fonts
  • IC - Image Club Graphics
  •  ITC - International Typeface Corporation
  • LS - Letraset or Esselte Letraset
  • LAG - Linotype AG 
  • MT - AGFA/Monotype
  • VG - Visual Graph