GNU FreeFont
Frequently Asked Questions

Contacting us

I found a problem with the font! Where can I report that?

The best place to report problems is the project's bug page.
It is best to make an account with Savannah, so that you can be informed of progress with your report.

I have a question about the font. Where can I ask it?

A question that might be of general interest to other users can be put to the mailing list, freefont-bugs.
(Despite the name, it's meant for general discussion.)
You have to first follow the instructions to subscribe to the list.

Can I write directly to the administrator of GNU FreeFont?

Sure. You'll find the e-mail on the GNU FreeFont project site.

Font contents

Where do the letters in the fonts of GNU FreeFont come from?

A variety of contributors made the letters. Each agreed that their work could be part of GNU FreeFont, or else inserted their letters themselves. These are listed in the CONTRIBUTORS file, and include:

  • font foundry corporations,
  • other fonts made by groups and individuals,
  • exclusive contributions to GNU FreeFont.

The letters are not simply copied in. They are typically adjusted to agree with the other letters in the font, and many technical adustments are made so they pass all our quality tests. Furthermore, font feature tables are often completely re-written for various technical reasons.

Why don't you support Chinese, Japanese, or Korean?

Simply: insufficient resources. The inclusion of basic Chinese alone would double the size of the project (both in file size and in maintenance effort), and we are straining as it is.

Why don't you assign a code point in one of Unicode's Private Use Areas (PUA) for my favorite non-Unicode letter?

The PUA's are by definition for non-standard use. For example, a special application might use them for some special symbols, for use only within that application.

GNU FreeFont is for general use, based on the Unicode standard. It uses font slots corresponding to the PUA for internal purposes, for components used to make other letter, for letter substitutions, etc.— but these are not to be directly referenced from outside the font.


Can I use GNU FreeFont without restriction in my printed documents (reports, brochures, books, logos, etc.)


The license restricts only the distribution of the font itself, or derivatives thereof — documents printed with the font are regarded as output of the font, not the font itself.

Can I use GNU FreeFont in my non-GPL PDF document?


This is precisely what the special exception is for in the license.

Can I use GNU FreeFont as a Web-Font in my web site, without the site inheriting the GPL?

By using a font as a Web-Font, you are in effect distributing the font — to comply with the GPL, its license and contact information must be distributed along with it. So long as that information is delivered to your user, the GPL is satisfied. Your web site does not inherit the GPL by distributing the font.

If you use the WOFF format files from the GNU FreeFont distribution, there is no problem, as these contain all the required information.

You may want to modify the fonts, for example, to reduce their size. If you do so, be very careful to follow the instructions described in the distribution file:

Can I incorporate GNU FreeFont into my GPL-licensed software?

If your software is GPL v.3 or later, there is no issue.

It would be nice to credit GNU FreeFont somewhere in your documentation.

Can I incorporate GNU FreeFont into my (proprietary/non-GPL) software?

Only for your own personal use, or use within your organization only.

If you distribute software that incorporates elements of GNU FreeFont, the distribution as a whole must be released under the GPL.

Can I bundle GNU FreeFont with my (closed-source/non-GPL) software?

Yes, so long as you follow the rules.

The basic idea is that when you distribute it, your customer knows

  • that it is a product separate from your software
  • what it is and where it came from,
  • that they can obtain it themselves for free, and
  • that they can freely distribute it themselves.

Possible measures to make the situation clear to your customer:

  • Place the GNU FreeFont distribution, intact with its documentation, in plain view in a folder in your product's distribution medium (CD, Web Site).

  • In your installation instructions, instruct the customer to install the fonts into their system.

  • You can also use an installer program — only make sure in no way to obscure the fact that GNU FreeFont is a separate product and make sure that your customer can clearly see where to read more about GNU FreeFont.

    To be very clear that you have informed your customer of the nature of and conditions on GNU FreeFont, you might for example have your installer pop up a notice, stating what GNU FreeFont is, where it is on your installation disk, and how they can read more about it.

Why don't you convert the license of GNU FreeFont to some license specially for fonts, such as OFL?

These font licenses have some advantages in brevity and conciseness over the full GPL (with embedding exception), and the thought has been discussed.

However, the content of GNU FreeFont belongs to its many contributors, each of which agreed that their contribution could be distributed under the present license, not under some other license. To switch licenses would involve contacting each of those contributors to obtain their permission to change the license, or else removing their contributions. This is not practical.

Beyond the impracticality of changing the license, GNU FreeFont was conceived as and remains part of the GNU project, and so it is appropriate for it to use the GNU license.