The importance of typography in design can’t be overestimated. The accuracy, precision and balance of geometric forms can give letters the elegance and sharpness they deserve. Besides, elegant fonts can help to convey the message in a more convenient way. In fact, while there are many excellent professional fonts there are literally thousands of free low-quality fonts which you would never use for professional designs.
Quality costs. The price of “bulletproof” fonts usually reflects their quality and starts at 50$ per typeface. However, before purchasing a font you will probably use only once in your designs you might want to take a glance at outstanding free alternatives first.
Over the last year we’ve been observing typo-designers and their works; we’ve regularly collected high-quality fonts available for free download and free to use for personal or/and commercial projects. In this article we’d like to present an overview of over 40 excellent free fonts you might use for your professional designs. What is your favourite?
- Some images are taken from Gerrit van Aaken’s Typography Essays. Thank you, Gerrit.
- We haven’t listed Arial, Georgia, Verdana, Trebuchet MS & Co. as well as Calibri, Cambria, Candara, Constantia and Corbel as they are delivered almost “automatically”.
- We’d like to thank to all typo-designers and foundries for releasing these fonts for free. We appreciate your work and your intentions.
- Before using fonts please read the license agreements carefully — they can change from time to time.
Excellent Freefonts For Professional Designs in 2008
Gentium Gentium is a typeface family designed to enable the diverse ethnic groups around the world who use the Latin script to produce readable, high-quality publications. It supports a wide range of Latin-based alphabets and includes glyphs that correspond to all the Latin ranges of Unicode. Gentium examples.
District Thin A very calm, serious and impressive sans-serif free font from GarageFonts’ District family. The font is available as Mac Postscript, Mac TrueType, PC Postscript, PC Truetype and OpenType.
Few years ago the government of the region has decided to design a new typeface to enable its 28.000 citizens to use all four languages in a uniform manner. The result is a beautiful, rich and professional sans-serif free font. The family includes a bold, heavy, italic, light and regular weights. Examples.
Delicious Special attention was given to character spacing to obtain a homogenous appearance. With its relatively large x-height the Delicious can be used for text in smaller point sizes. The Delicious italic is not a slanted roman, but a true italic. Serif, Mac / PC.
Anivers A robust and rigid font, forgiving, flexible, elegant and also suitable for a broad use: from a stationery to a poster headline. A smashing serif freefont by Jos Buivenga, dedicated to the One-Year-Anniversary of Smashing Magazine. Besides ligatures, contextual alternatives, fractions and oldstyle/tabular numerals Anivers also has a ‘case’ feature for case-sensitive forms. Anivers supports CE languages and Esperanto. It has more than 350 glyphs and over 1.600 kerning pairs. Examples.
Tallys Tallys is a font that is one degree slanted and has large caps, a small x-height and long ascenders. Only roman style is available.
Fontin Sans Available weights: regular, italic, bold, bold italic and small caps. It is a sans companion of Fontin and can be downloaded at Mac & PC (OpenType). Fontin Sans is absolutely free for personal and commercial use. Examples.
Geo Sans Light, by Manfred Klein
Yanone Kaffeesatz This “coffee”-font is supposed to be used in headlines and brief text passages; it shouldn’t, however, be used for body copy. The numbers and currency signs are monospaced, which means that they have the same width. This is useful if you’d like to place them on a restaurant menu beneath each other in a table. The alternative and historic symbols as well as ligatures can be activated via the OpenType-option »optional ligatures«. Released under Creative Commons license. Examples.
JustOldFashion A font designed by Manfred Klein.
Cardo Cardo is a large Unicode font specifically designed for the needs of classicists, Biblical scholars, medievalists, and linguists. This font is free for personal, non-commercial, or non-profit use.
Liberation Serif Public domain / GNU GPL, Regular, Italic, Bold, Bold Italic, PC / Mac OS X
Liberation Sans Public domain / GNU GPL, Regular, Italic, Bold, Bold Italic, PC / Mac OS X
Romeral offers aside from optimal legibility an elegant style, rounded forms and sharp geometric structure of its letters. Romeral is designed to produce a noticeable visual impact that invites the audience to the reading due to its sizable thickness. Interestingly enough, the basic idea of this OpenType-font was to find a way to fill the color titles zone in order to create a comfortable atmosphere for the reading experience. It can be used for body copy and headlines. Free to use in personal and commercial projects.
You can get the font sending a personal request via e-mail or comment form. More information is available on Typies, Pablo De Gregorio’s blog.
Scriptina Handwriting, PC, Mac.
Mank Sans A freefont designed by Manfred Klein.
Diavlo Jos Buivenga’s freefont that is a bit square and sharp. Great attention has been given to detail, spacing and kerning. It contains more than 300 glyphs and over 1.300 kerning pairs. So Tørwald can pick up his Téléphone without worrying. Diavlo contains (some) East European characters and also Esperanto characters.
The final release contains 5 weights: Light, Book, SemiBold, Bold and Black. Diavlo contains a bunch of ligatures and contextual alternatives (OpenType feature) to prevent undesired collisions.
Cicle Sans-Serif, 7 weights, freeware.
Kontrapunkt Slab-serif. Kontrapunkt was awarded the Danish Design Prize for best typeface. The aim has been to develop a distinct font, with regards to both the inidividual character and the overall image as such. The typeface has so far been developed in a light, light italic and bold version.
Fontin The Fontin is designed to be used at small sizes. The color is darkish, the spacing loose and the x-height tall. The numbers of the Fontin have a ‘hybrid’ design. They carry the characteristics of medieval numbers, but their size is larger than the x-height. Mac (Type 1), PC (TTF, Opentype).
[image via typoblog.ch]
Fertigo It’s a bit like Laphroaic; the more you get to know it, the more you’ll (probably) appreciate it. With it’s auto-ligatures (no Open Type programms needed), a complete character set and many other unknown features it can be hard to resist. Regular only.
Steiner This typeface is ideal for logos and general design. It isn’t very suitable to be used with word-processors as it lacks some symbols and letters. Sans Serif, free for personal use only.
AUdimat (v2) OpenType, Mac, PC, in four weights: regular, italic, bold, bold italic. Freeware, via fontleech.
Droid Font Family
Google’s Android project, an open platform for mobile devices, includes the Droid font family, which was designed to provide optimal quality and comfort on a mobile handset when rendered in application menus, web browsers and for other screen text.
The Droid family of fonts consists of Droid Sans, Droid Sans Mono and Droid Serif. Each contains extensive character set coverage including Western Europe, Eastern/Central Europe, Baltic, Cyrillic, Greek and Turkish support. Description with a specimen. You can find concrete instruction of how you can use the fonts in this article.
OT Versa Condensed, by Peter Verheul
Ourtype offers a bonus font of the month. To download the font, click on the “About” item in the left sidebar of this site. Once the horizontal menu has appeared, click on the “Bonus font of the mont” section link in the menu.
Greyscale Basic A freefont designed by Greyscale
Existence Light A free sans-serif font designed by Yeah Noah. 3 weights — Light, UnicaseLight, StencilLight. OpenType, PC, Mac OS X.
Com4T Fine Regular
Is your pattern library up to date today? Alla Kholmatova has just finished a fully fledged book on Design Systems and how to get them right. With common traps, gotchas and the lessons she learned. Hardcover, eBook. Just sayin'.
Style-Force Semplice Pixelfonts Tiny pixelfonts, Flash-compatible including detailed instructions on how the fonts should be used to achieve the best readability.
Silkscreen Silkscreen is best used in places where extremely small graphical display type is needed. The primary use is for navigational items (nav bars, menus, etc.). Silkscreen also works very well at large point sizes if you’re looking for that chunky, old school computer look so popular with the kids today. Created by Jason Kottke. Silkscreen, with both Mac and Windows versions, is free for personal and corporate use. TrueType, Windows, Mac, Linux.
SIL Open Font License v1.10
This license can also be found at this permalink: https://www.fontsquirrel.com/license/Gentium-Basic
Copyright (c) 2003-2008 SIL International (http://www.sil.org/),
with Reserved Font Names “Gentium” and “SIL”.
This Font Software is licensed under the SIL Open Font License, Version 1.1.
This license is copied below, and is also available with a FAQ at: http://scripts.sil.org/OFL
SIL OPEN FONT LICENSE Version 1.1 - 26 February 2007
The goals of the Open Font License (OFL) are to stimulate worldwide development of collaborative font projects, to support the font creation efforts of academic and linguistic communities, and to provide a free and open framework in which fonts may be shared and improved in partnership with others.
The OFL allows the licensed fonts to be used, studied, modified and redistributed freely as long as they are not sold by themselves. The fonts, including any derivative works, can be bundled, embedded, redistributed and/or sold with any software provided that any reserved names are not used by derivative works. The fonts and derivatives, however, cannot be released under any other type of license. The requirement for fonts to remain under this license does not apply to any document created using the fonts or their derivatives.
“Font Software” refers to the set of files released by the Copyright Holder(s) under this license and clearly marked as such. This may include source files, build scripts and documentation.
“Reserved Font Name” refers to any names specified as such after the copyright statement(s).
“Original Version” refers to the collection of Font Software components as distributed by the Copyright Holder(s).
“Modified Version” refers to any derivative made by adding to, deleting, or substituting—in part or in whole—any of the components of the Original Version, by changing formats or by porting the Font Software to a new environment.
“Author” refers to any designer, engineer, programmer, technical writer or other person who contributed to the Font Software.
PERMISSION & CONDITIONS
Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of the Font Software, to use, study, copy, merge, embed, modify, redistribute, and sell modified and unmodified copies of the Font Software, subject to the following conditions:
1) Neither the Font Software nor any of its individual components, in Original or Modified Versions, may be sold by itself.
2) Original or Modified Versions of the Font Software may be bundled, redistributed and/or sold with any software, provided that each copy contains the above copyright notice and this license. These can be included either as stand-alone text files, human-readable headers or in the appropriate machine-readable metadata fields within text or binary files as long as those fields can be easily viewed by the user.
3) No Modified Version of the Font Software may use the Reserved Font Name(s) unless explicit written permission is granted by the corresponding Copyright Holder. This restriction only applies to the primary font name as presented to the users.
4) The name(s) of the Copyright Holder(s) or the Author(s) of the Font Software shall not be used to promote, endorse or advertise any Modified Version, except to acknowledge the contribution(s) of the Copyright Holder(s) and the Author(s) or with their explicit written permission.
5) The Font Software, modified or unmodified, in part or in whole, must be distributed entirely under this license, and must not be distributed under any other license. The requirement for fonts to remain under this license does not apply to any document created using the Font Software.
This license becomes null and void if any of the above conditions are not met.
THE FONT SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED “AS IS”, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT OF COPYRIGHT, PATENT, TRADEMARK, OR OTHER RIGHT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, INCLUDING ANY GENERAL, SPECIAL, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF THE USE OR INABILITY TO USE THE FONT SOFTWARE OR FROM OTHER DEALINGS IN THE FONT SOFTWARE.
The license for this font is the SIL OFL license. This license does not allow us to redistribute derivative versions of the font without wholesale name changes inside and out of the font. Until we figure out a reasonable method of delivering these to you and complying with the license, you will have to use the Webfont Generator yourself on these, renaming the fonts appropriately.
If you are the designer of this font, and this was an unintended consequence of using the OFL license, contact us and give us permission to allow webfont conversions. Thanks!