23 Must-Have, Free Fonts for Graphic Designers
Do you need a font that will make your design sparkle? Low on dough? As you probably already know, there are plenty of free fonts on the Internet. Like anything free, quality varies. With a little research, it's possible to find a few gems out there that won't cost you a dime. This article highlights twenty-three high-quality free fonts suitable for a variety of graphic design projects.
Less is More
Sometimes all you need is a nice, basic sans serif font. Code Light and Code Bold to the rescue! Code looks a lot like Avant Garde, doesn't it? Incidentally, Avant Garde was originally designed as a header for Avant Garde magazine in the 1970's. Like Avant Garde, Code's circular letters, clean lines and even line weights make it ideal for headlines and short bodies of text.
Created by Dalton Maag Ltd. for the Danish School of Media and Journalism, Aller is a modern sans serif typeface with a nice balance of serious and fun. It's professional enough for business use without being humdrum. Check out the modish lower case letter L, for instance. Another bonus is that Aller works well in display and text environments.
Good Dog makes me think cute, wobbly puppy with paws and ears that need growing into. In other words, it makes me smile. It will work in any informal setting that needs a little pop of joy.
Alex Brush is a semi-light script typeface with a pleasing flow. It's the "business casual" of the script world… well-dressed but without the discomfort of a choking tie. A very legible script, it is useful for everything from a party invitation to a business name on a boutique storefront.
Confident, fun and plucky. That's Lobster! The condensed nature of Lobster makes it a good option where space is limited. It brings to mind baseball jersey lettering and signs for casual bars and restaurants. Works well as an accent in a group of text or as a standalone title.
Step Aside Impact
Bebas Neue is a tall, compact typeface that resembles a slightly slimmed down version of Impact. Unlike many ultra-bold typefaces, it fits nicely in tight spaces and still packs a punch. Not as thick as Impact, Bebas is the more legible font of the two, especially when used in long headlines.
This semi-serif typeface is imaginative without being off the wall and impractical. It was designed by Jos Buivenga and is his most well-known font. Museo comes in several weights and is happy in a variety of settings including headlines or medium size areas of text.
Oh So Art Deco
Riesling is a beautiful example of a 1920's inspired typeface… and how! It's the bee's knees, the berries and the cat's pajamas. The best part is that you can get it for zero clams! That's right. No dough needed. Leave your cabbage in your wallet, see? Riesling would look nice on an upscale restaurant menu, as the title of a private eye novel, or on a wine label (um… it is Riesling after all).
Bleeding Cowboys pulls off a perfect balance of grunge, western and flourish. I recently discovered a Facebook page dedicated to the eradication of Bleeding Cowboys. They claim that it is overused and needs to go. Bah! I like it anyway. Now, I just need to find a use for it.
Feeling sporty? Try a little Playball. This friendly, energetic script fits the bill when a fun-loving, breezy expression is desired.
Verb Condensed is a sans serif font that works well at both small sizes and large. The slightly flattened curved areas on its letters are quite refreshing, making it a brilliant choice when you want to use a sans serif but desire a little something extra to break up the predictability usually found in sans serif faces.
This macho slab serif is a surefire attention grabber. It's clean, sturdy, and it means business! Use ChunkFive with confidence for headlines, subheads and titles.
Journal is a sweet, unassuming handwritten font. Light and airy, it adds charm and personality to print and web designs that need a casual, personal feel.
Champagne is a formal script with graceful, fluid lines. Its letters do not connect, giving it a more relaxed feel than many formal scripts. It creates a sophisticated mood when used in invitations and announcements.
This font makes me think of old timey drugstores, vintage labels and vegetable seed packets from a bygone era. What's not to love about the imperfect, old fashioned goodness of Hominus?
Down and Dirty
Billy Argel is one of my favorite typeface designers. His typeface, Major Guilty, is just one of his many dirty, grungy designs. Another one of my Argel favorites is A Bite. Billy is a master of distressed imagery. The textures in his work are believable, unlike a lot of grunge images and fonts. His fonts are perfect for text that needs to make a bold statement.
Banana was designed with logo design in mind and comes in lowercase only. It's simple structure keeps it low key yet still makes a statement. Give it a try in your next contemporary logo design.
Little Snorlax: This delightful, doodle-esque font probably has limited uses, but it certainly could add some fun to the right project. Is it just me or does playing in the sandbox sound like a good idea right now? But first, nap time!
Fonts That Aren't Fonts
Some fonts are actually dingbats or graphics. One of my favorites is Adhesive Nr. Seven. It is a set of assorted vintage-style grunge banners. Find the banner you like. Convert it to outlines. Bam! Instant artwork.
Another sweet graphic font is Authentic Labels. The free demo version offers a limited number of retro label designs. For more options, you will have to purchase the full version.
How many times have you found yourself searching for a Facebook or Twitter icon? Here they are, along with twenty-four other social networking icons, just a keystroke away.
These Lucky Charms are not related to the colorful stale marshmallows found in the popular kids (and adults?) cereal. Though, this set of quirky images does include horseshoes and four leaf clovers. Lucky Charms is a collection of cheesy good luck, magic, underworld inspired objects. They are so kooky they are cool.
Even though the fonts I've listed in this article are free, that doesn't mean they are free to use as you please. Be sure to check usage rights and restrictions before using any free font. Some are free for personal use only and require a license when used for commercial projects. Others do allow for commercial use without a license. Another thing to be aware of is that some free fonts don't include special and extended characters. So, if you're looking for a particular glyph or ligature, you might be out of luck.
Happy free font hunting my fellow graphic designers!