The 10 best free fonts
Fonts are one of my favorite things. Free fonts; free fonts with extended families and full character sets, alternates, ligatures – this might be enough to make me start breaking into song.
I’ve been collecting fonts since 2003, since I discovered I wasn’t actually limited to the fonts installed on my computer. It might have been sooner, but this was roughly when I acquired an interest in the guts of design, graphics and type. There are over a thousand in my library, and at one point I was pushing 2K, but pared back somewhat as my font library became unmanageable. I don’t call myself an expert on the topic, but I do have some cred when it comes to fonts.
Now 0.75% of my font library is a fairly tiny number so I’ve been very judicious in selecting these fonts. I’ve tried to include some variety and of course this list is likely to change in the future. I will aim to update now and then as I discover others more worthy of a spot here, but as of this moment, these are the 10 best free fonts I own.
Remember when I told you how I was once addicted to fancy fonts? Back in 2014 Bebas was exactly the palette cleanse I needed. As of writing Bebas has over 20 million downloads! It’s a very straight forward condensed typeface which makes it perfect for infographics and posters where it carries a lot more impact than a regular style typeface. While it’s only uppercase, as a display font the lowercase isn’t really needed – what’s important here is how much of an impact this font can make on your project. So of course the other negative against it is that it is everywhere. Just like Helvetica was in the ’00s and ’10s, and Futura as well. So a prudent designer will make careful use of this font so that using this font doesn’t lose its punch.
2. Minion Pro
Minion is a great little workhorse. Perhaps you know it as the default font in InDesign that you change right away. But I’ve always felt that Minion is under appreciated. I used it as part of my logo at one point. Kate Spade also used it. As a serif font many will shy away from it because serifs are perceived as old fashioned, but at just 28 years old, Minion is a good 33 years younger than Helvetica.
I am a sucker for a really solid clean script and that’s Pacifico to a tea. While it isn’t as flowery as the thousands of newly released (daily!) hand scripts, Pacifico delivers legibility and elegance with a hint of nostalgia.
4. Nimbus Sans (L)
Nimbus Sans is not technically a free font, but Nimbus Sans L is a free version of it. It is a fantastic sans serif font. It was based on Helvetica and attempts to fix some of the problems with it. If you aren’t using Minion for your body text, I would recommend using Nimbus.
Berg is a layered font family with a lot of character. There’s a great big dollop of retro appeal to this font. It’s available in 7 styles and is completely free for personal and commercial use!
Calibri is another workhorse, clean sans serif font that works well in both headlines and body text. I have a bit of a love hate relationship with Calibri. It is an incredibly well designed font, but because of this it can get a little bland and fade into the background a bit. If you’re going to use it, consider mixing things up a bit with a font that is a bit more of a show pony.
7. League Spartan (bold)
If you’re like me, you love a good solid geometric typeface. Futura and Gotham are two of my most adored fonts, but they are not free! Lucky for us the League of Movable Type is here to save the day! They’ve created a gorgeous geometric sans serif font, and they’re giving it away because they’re cool like that. Grab League Spartan and you will not be disappointed.
Laura Worthington is one of my favorite type designers, and I discovered that the Hungry JPEG are offering her font Milkshake for free. Like Pacifico, this script is elegant and clean with just a touch of nostalgia. It works wonderfully as part of a brand. It looks great paired with the next entry too I might add.
9. Nexa Rust
One of the largest font families I have is Nexa. I managed to grab all 83 fonts in the Nexa Rust family for a song (as part of a bundle, I believe,) but there are a few members of the Nexa family available completely free. The biggest advantage to using Nexa is that you don’t have to switch families. Sans, Slab, Script, Handmade and Extras are all available for free, so you are covered with at least a small starter family that has been styled to fit together.
Lobster is probably my favorite of the bunch and I have to remind myself that it isn’t going to fit every second project. It is an extremely popular font, but with good reason! This script is a trip to the diner for a root beer float and a cheeseburger with your sweetheart. Use this for Americana aesthetics, branding or basically anything that you feel needs to conjure up feelings of nostalgia. If you don’t already have this in your arsenal then hurry go download it!
While one commercial and maybe even expensive font or font family might speak to you, your brand or whatever project you’re working on, you can never have too many font options. Free fonts are good to round out your font library, but don’t forget to check licenses!
Don’t forget to check out my fonts on Fontbundles.net and enjoy working with these great fonts!