With so many fonts available on the web, wanting to get the Shelley Volante font free for your mac or pc is understandable. There are some versions of Shelley and other fonts that are free; however, as you'll see, there are reasons you may want to pay full price instead.
The History of Shelley
Font designer Matthew Carter designed the Shelley font family in 1972 for a typographic company called Linotype. It is an elegant flowing script design, giving the illusion of a calligraphic handwriting. All of the "official" Shelley script faces (there are three of them) have the same lowercase letters, but the capitals vary from font to font. Currently "Shelley"™ is still trademarked by the Linotype Corp.
Where to Use Shelley Font
Since it's a very florid design, Shelley is not really appropriate for business correspondence. Likewise, because it is about as "serif" as a font can get, it is not appropriate for a lot of signs and marketing copy, except as a header for short, easily readable words. "Style" might look good written on a billboard in a Shelley font, but "multifilament polypropylene" wouldn't.
That's not to say that the font isn't used for marketing and packaging - it simply needs to be done in a way that still conveys the message, as opposed to obscuring it. The lines of Shelley letters have a formality to them, an elegant demeanor that is used often to make dinner invitations, certificate lettering, and other official documents more "high class."
Why Isn't Shelley Volante Font Free?
The entire Shelley family is registered by the Linotype corporation in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It is also registered in various other countries under some variations of the company name "Linotype." This makes it property, and like most property, they don't want to just give it away. Especially if it's going to be used in an application or as a special web font, they want you to pay for the right to use it.
The good news is that it is not very expensive. Companies such as Fonts.com offer it in an OpenType (OTF) flavor for less than $50. Truetype and Postscript versions for Windows are also available, as well as an "LT" version.
If you google "shelley volante font free" you will get lots of hits, but that's because free fonts are a way that many unscrupulous ad and malware sites lure people into downloading their viruses. It's sometimes hard to find legitimate sources for free fonts, though sites like Chank are usually good examples of trusted sites. In fact, the Font Temple has a "Shelley Volante BT" designed by user Christie which can be downloaded and easily installed. It should be noted that this font face is not necessarily as complete as the "official" Shelley, but if you're aware of the risks, there is nothing stopping you from using it on your site, poster, or handout.
Installing fonts is not a difficult process - in fact, it gets easier all the time, though Windows does still require a few counter-intuitive steps after opening its "control panel." Even Apple's "Font Book", while making a single-click installation of a font possible, requires that you close external applications before you can use any font. In other words, doing things in the wrong order can cause a lot of problems. It is best to use your computer's "Help" files to find out the right way to install the Shelley Volante font.
Caution! Fonts Are Dangerous!
Well, fonts aren't really dangerous, but there is a tendency for novice designers to use many fonts on one document with the idea that more is better, and aren't all those different looking letters nifty! Unfortunately, there is a reason that typographers and designers usually stick to two fonts per document, and usually these are complementary in that one is serif and one is sans. It is usually a good idea to learn about design before trying your hand on such a project, just to avoid an amateurish appearance.