If I have to choose my costliest designer quirk it’s certainly my hard line addiction for great fonts. I often tell my husband when he sees a new design related expense on our credit card that “Honey, a designer can never have enough fonts!”
The situation is a bit different with free fonts. In my early career, when I couldn’t afford to buy fonts, I often visited websites with “free alternatives” to the paid ones. I have to tell you, many of these websites are bad for you: potential virus source for your computer, questionable licenses, stolen products from font designers and in many cases they are filled with crap, not to mention the thousands of ads everywhere...
So in this post, I’m going to share with you years of research in the world of free fonts. Where to find them and which ones to use if you aim for a professional look. I also added a freebie to this post that helps you combine these fonts like a pro and achieve a feminine, sophisticated look.
This is a massive article and I spent days of research on it to provide the best, nicest and safest free fonts for you. So I hope you’ll enjoy it.
THE ULTIMATE LIST OF 75 COMMERCIALLY FREE FONTS & WHERE TO FIND THEM
Pick your favorites from this list then scroll down for the download links. Wherever possible, I linked to the original source of the font (for example the creator’s website or portfolio page) or to Google Fonts as the safest font resource to use. I included a quick tutorial on how to download and install fonts from the Google Fonts website at the end of this article.
Sans Serif Fonts
Sans serif fonts are perfect for clean, contemporary brands. In addition, sans serif is the best choice for online text (think of your blog copies, sales pages, any online downloadable guide), because of legibility.
- Josefin Sans by Typemade: clean and Scandinavian style
- Montserrat by Julieta Ulanovsky: versatile and comes in many weights
- Quicksand by Andrew Paglinawan: playful and rounded style
- Caviar Dreams by Nymphont: fashionable art deco style
- Aileron by Dot Colon: geometric and playful style
- Lato by Łukasz Dziedzic: modern and versatile style
- Audrey by Christina Pagnotta: elegant, feminine style
- Raleway by The League of Moveable Type: friendly and geometric style
- Rubik by Hubert & Fischer: rounded, welcoming style
- Sinkin Sans by K-type: wide and clean style
- Bellota by Pixilate: an ornamented, low contrast sans-serif. It’s just cute enough!
- PT Sans by Paratype: simple and versatile style
- Signika by Anna Giedryś: happy, curvy style
- Metropolis by Chris Simpson: elegant, geometric style
- Fira Sans by Mozilla: legible and simple style
- Nunito by Vernon Adams: playful and simple style
- Glacial Indifference by Alfredo Marco Pradil: geometric, clean and versatile style
- Roboto by Christian Robertson: mechanical, geometric style
Serif & Slab Serif Fonts
Serif fonts are perfect for a more classical, feminine look. They also work well for logos, headlines and any text block you want to highlight in your copy. In addition, serif and slab serif fonts are the best choices for printed guides, books and magazines because the serifs (the little end parts at the bottom of each font) help the reader follow the line of the text better. But note that it’s not so optimal for long online copy as it creates an overly busy look. For long online copy, stay with sans serifs and only use serifs for headlines and quotes.
- Questa Regular by The Questa Project: classy and feminine style
- Butler by Fabian de Smet: classy and modern style
- Josefin Slab by Santiago Orozco: the slab sibling of the Swedish style sans
- Judson by Daniel Johnson: designed for African literacy with many special characters and accents
- Spectral by Production Type: perfect for long form reading
- Playfair Display by Claus Eggers Sørensen: traditional and luxurious style
- Roboto Slab by Christian Robertson: an extension to the Roboto font
- Glamor by Hendrick Rolandez: extra luxurious, magazine cover style
- Cormorant by Christian Thalmann: beautiful, extravagant style
- Libre Baskerville by Impallari Type: rooted from the classical Baskerville typeface
- Lora by Cyreal: well balanced, contemporary style
- Andada by Huerta Tipográfica: award winning organic-slab hybrid style
- Eczar by Rosetta: strong personality that’s good for both display and long-form text sizes
- Marta by Michael Chereda: Eclectic, accidental-text font with wedge serifs
- Elsie by Alejandro Inler: was created to celebrate the world of women, glamour and fashion
- Crimson by Sebastian Kosch: beautiful oldstyle typeface
- Aleo by Łukasz Dziedzic: a contemporary typeface designed as the slab serif companion to the Lato font by the same designer
- Sreda by Elena Kowalski: contemporary, charmful font
- Maitree by Cadson Demak: well-suited for both formal and casual usage, especially for works that require an antique and historical manner.
- Inknut Antiqua by Claus Eggers Sørensen: designed to evoke Venetian incunabula and humanist manuscript
- Volkhov by Cyreal: robust character, intended for providing a motivating reading experience
- Choplin by Fontfabric: a modern and clear geometric slab serif with a sturdy heart
- Merriweather by Sorkin Type: pleasant to read font style
- DejaVu Serif by DejaVu: a versatile and extensive font family
Cursive fonts add personality and a human touch to your brand and design project. But make sure to use them sparingly as they are sometimes hard to read. Instead of using them for a whole paragraph, create quote sections with them (or click to Tweets in your blog posts) where you highlight your most important message from the article. They are also great for social media posts.
- Emmeline by Sinikka Li: Perfect for signature style logos, quotes, cards, invitations and much more
- Garment District by Jeremy Vessey & Alex Joganic: a beautiful monoline script that features a unique set of vintage inspired characters including alternates for each uppercase letter.
- Rowo by NDRO: a handmade brush font that features the natural texture of brush strokes
- Allura by Rob Leuschke: stylized, still highly legible font
- Noelan by NDRO: very clean and modern design. Noelan includes many alternates for easy mixing & matching and also has international characters
- Buffalo by Jeremy Vessey: a loopy & quirky monoline script font
- Restless by Hustle Supply Co: a beautiful new hand drawn brush script
- Beautiful Bloom by Mats-Peter Forss: an authentically hand lettered font with full alternates
- Sacramento by Astigmatic: a monoline, semi-connected script inspired by hand-lettering artist brochure work of the 1950's and 1960's
- Westchester by Rawberry Strubarb Ink: a quirky brush script
- Salmela by Genesislab: perfect for creating wedding invitations, signatures, letterheads and logos.
- Hesterica by Destriart Studio: can be incorporated into wedding invitations, posters, cards, logos.
- Naira by NDRO: features a very fun, fresh and simple design
- Campground by Fortunes Co: inspired from nature, adventure and vintage typefaces, its great for logos, clothing brands, weddings, and more
- Beautify by Yasir Ekinci: a gorgeous flowing script font
- Verona Lotte by Yasir Ekinci: ideal for signature logos, t-shirts, magazines, social media, restaurant menus, greeting cards, invitations, weddings and headers
- Playlist by Artimasa Studio: perfectly imperfect handdrawn font with dry brush styles
- America by Alex Joganic: a fancy yet rough textured script font
- Sugar Candy by madeDeduk: Suitable to create any branding, product packaging, invitations, quotes, t-shirt, label poster etc.
Display fonts have more character and playfulness. Same as with the cursive fonts, use them sparingly in your projects. They work well for logos, headers and social media posts.
- WT Bradford by Winston Type Co: inspired by the old-fashioned display, traditional sign-writing and packaging in early 1900's
- Nocturne by Rubirubiko Studio: vintage typeface with alternate characters perfect for logos
- Calama by Ben Karamyan: perfect for headlines, posters, titles & captions
- Yeseva One by Jovanny Lemonad: a font emphasizing the feminine essence
- Geotica by Exljbris Font Foundry: elegantly engraved and versatile style
- Limelight by Sorkin Type: classic high contrast art deco font
- Oleo Script by Soytutype Fonts: flowy yet legible, casual style
- Colus by Stan Partalev: classical and mature characteristics, perfect for headlines and logos
- Ostrich Sans by Tyler Finck: a gorgeous modern sans serif with many variations
- Cheque by Mirela Belova: classy, vintage look yet modern and geometric
- Potra by Alejo Bergmann: futuristic and playful style
- Codystar by Neapolitan: Sparkling, dotted display font
- Pacifico by Vernon Adams: original and fun brush script
- Blackout by Tyler Finck: inspired by filling in sans serif newsletter headlines, it’s perfect for playful and modern logos
- Sunday by Anastasia Dimitriadi: hand drawn and playful style
CHECK THESE TRUSTED WEBSITES FOR MORE FREE FONTS
So here’s a story on my very fresh experience with huge free font library sites (for example Fontsquirrel, DaFont, 1001Fonts, Fontspace, etc): if possible, avoid them!
Usually when you google “free font”, these sites pop up as first search results… And they are very tempting because you have thousands of free fonts housed in one place. While most of the time they can be safe, and the font files are not harmful, the websites themselves can be. Not purposefully though. These sites with the high volume of visitors but low quality security attract hackers ready to spread their ugly viruses. I used to love some of these sites, but during the research process leading up to this blog post, my MacBook got infected by a virus while browsing of these sites. I tried to download a free font that I’d already had on my iMac without any issue and BAMM! I just got a virus notification.
Here are the best places to find free fonts without running into problems:
Go To The Source
The first and best thing you can do is to find the font designer’s website or portfolio and download from there. Let’s say you saw a nice free font on FontSquirrel. Now, instead of clicking download there, find the creator’s name and google it. Many of them have their own websites or they at least have a portfolio on Behance or GitHub.
Google Fonts is a safe place to find font, but the download process might not be intuitive for some people, so here’s a quick guide:
How to download fonts from Google Fonts
Go to https://fonts.google.com
Search for the style or the exact font you need.
Click on the chosen font. More details about the font open up in your browser.
In the top right corner, you’ll see a red plus sign with “SELECT THIS FONT” text. Click on it.
At the right bottom part of your browser, a black bar appears saying “1 Family Selected”, click on it.
The bar opens up into a little window, in the right upper corner, there’s a download icon (downward pointing arrow). Click on this icon and your download starts.
You’ll find the downloaded fonts in you Downloads folder and now you can install them.
Many of the font designers have portfolios on Adobe’s Behance and creators often share free fonts through these online portfolios. Just type “free fonts” in the search bar on Behance to see some amazing projects. Not all of them commercially free, some of them are only demos, so always check the license document.
Many of you might know MyFonts, one of the best font marketplace out there. But did you know that many of the font families on MyFonts have freebies in them. You might not get the whole font family for free, but can test out one or two weights before purchasing the set.
This design resource site is one of the few safe exceptions. They work and contract directly with the font designers in order to offer their products for free so you can rest assured that the license provided by Pixel Surplus is legit and they don’t ruin the hard work font designers put in their projects.
Fontspring is similar to MyFonts. Most of the products you’ll find here are purchasable but some weights in font families are offered for free.
Fontfabric is an independent type foundry that offers some of their font designs for free.
Awwward started my whole journey with legit, safe - and beautiful - free fonts. They make yearly best-of lists of free fonts and other design goodies. You can’t download directly from their websites but they link to the creators or type foundries and it’s just joyful for the eye to scroll through their curated lists. Like window shopping in an artisanal confectionary.
If you’re subscribed to Adobe Creative Cloud, chances are that you have access to Adobe Typekit. Typekit partners with the world’s leading type foundries to bring thousands of beautiful fonts to designers every day. No need to worry about licensing, and you can use fonts from Typekit on the web or in desktop applications. Typekit also builts into your Adobe application making it easy to add and delete fonts directly from Photoshop or Illustrator.
HOW TO USE THESE FREE FONTS FOR BEST RESULTS
Pair them like a Pro
Never combine too many fonts into one project. I usually use 2 fonts and in some cases add a 3rd one for a playfulness or special cases. Also, most of the time you have to combine fonts from different categories: for example, pair a sans serif and a serif or a cursive with a sans serif. It’s very rare when you can effectively use 2 of the same category together.
Want to know more about font pairing. I’ve got you covered! I created an exclusive freebie, the How to pair fonts for a sophisticated look PDF guide. Click on the image below to access it.
Always Check the License
Open Font License or OFL is what you have to look for if you plan to use free fonts in your business. Font licenses are often confusing and you always have to check them for each font depending the goal of your design project. For example a commercially free font can be used for a low volume T-shirt design or a logo but you might have to contact the creator if you want to sell thousands from that T-shirt or plan to add the fonts to your YouTube or Podcast Shows. Whenever you are not sure, reach out and ask the font designer. Appreciate their hard work by not violating their license.
WHICH ONE OF THESE FREE FONTS DO YOU LIKE THE MOST?
Is there a font on this list that was love at first sight for you? Or do you have other fonts you’d like to recommend us. Share in the comments.
And don’t forget to grab the free guide on How to Combine Fonts Like a Pro & Achieve a Sophisticated Look.