If you study the work of good graphic designers, you’ll find they have favorite font pairs. They may have as few as a dozen families of serif and sans serif faces, they really work with on a regular basis. This knowledge is acquired by examining portfolios of your design mentors and peers. Then start collecting the ones that really work for you.
Google search: Graphic Designer’s most favorite fonts.
I don’t think a $50 tool can replace the human brain and the wisdom of designers you admire.
I built two type books for my studio.
The first I call my “Core” Type book. These are my favorites. Each page shows the creation dates and history of each font and what recommended font pairs exist (in my collection). Remember this is based on my tastes.
Core font title page and index
When making client presentations, I always show a sample of the entire alphabet in upper and lower case. I also include the history (which is copied from this book). Understanding the history of a font reassures the client you’re an expert. It also demonstrates your enthusiasm (they’ll think you’re a fanatic! aka font freak.) I don’t show clients the book.
Core font sample page – history, creation date, sample alphabets, pair fonts.
My Core type book is available for free download here.
1.1MB, 17×11 format, 19 page, b/w
If you’re really savvy, you can extract all the fonts from the PDF. I’ve never tried myself. I just know it can be done. The resolution is for screen viewing but all fonts are embedded.
The second type book is my collection of display fonts. They’re arranged thematically. Again, a design freebie.
Thematic categories of display fonts.
It’s available here.
4.5MB, 17×11 format, 51 pages, b/w
Sample page display fonts.
I’ve printed and bound these as a personal studio reference book. I prefer font evaluation for print jobs on paper. And I like to see them big for detail.
It’s a project worth doing for your own studio. Promise.