- What Is Open Sans?
- The History of the Open Sans Font
- The Open Sans Font in Use: Flat Design and Political Branding
- How to Use Open Sans in Your Designs
- Fonts Similar to Open Sans
- How to Pair Fonts
- Best Font Pairings for Open Sans Similar Fonts
- Conclusion: Fonts Similar to Open Sans
Open Sans is the ubiquitous web font that has come to define and dominate the typography of the internet. If you want to find out what font is similar to Open Sans, you're in luck—you can find a wide variety of fonts similar to Open Sans, which pay tribute to its minimal, legible character.
While there are plenty of similar fonts to Open Sans, no other font can match its decade of supremacy across web design. Created in 2011 by Steve Matteson and commissioned by Google, Open Sans went hand in hand with the rise of ‘flat design’ across websites and apps in the 2010s.
The Open Sans family now has more than 29 billion page views each week, and it's the second most used font on Google Fonts. It's ultra-legible on even small screens, and many have identified Open Sans as the new Arial—a neutral yet friendly font with a versatility and popularity that has remained largely unchanged over ten years of use.
Here, discover the history of the Open Sans font family, find out what is a similar font to Open Sans, and download recommended alternatives to the world’s favorite web font.
What Is Open Sans?
Open Sans is a minimal sans serif font with a large x-height and an open, airy appearance (hence the name). It is classed as a humanist sans serif, and was designed with small screens in mind. For many designers, Open Sans is the 'flat design' font, as it was widely used in flat user interface design during the 2010s.
Consisting of a wide range of weights (including Open Sans light font, Open Sans Bold, and Open Sans Semibold), the font is widely adaptable for both web and print design.
Today, Open Sans is one of the most widely used fonts in web design, second only to Roboto (a close relative of Droid Sans, Open Sans's predecessor) on the list of most-used typefaces on Google Fonts. Read on to discover more about the history of Open Sans, as well as our choice of the font closest to Open Sans.
The History of the Open Sans Font
In 2011, Google commissioned American type designer Steve Matteson, now Creative Type Director at Californian foundry Monotype, to create a variation of his older font design, Droid Sans. Used across Android mobile devices, Droid Sans had been designed as an ultra-legible font for small screens.
Matteson’s redesigned font, Open Sans, is even more legible, with wider apertures and a large x-height, as well as an italic variant. Described by Google as having ‘open forms and a neutral, yet friendly appearance’, the Open Sans font quickly became one of the most widely used web fonts, championed by Google as one of their default fonts for web pages and mobile devices, but also used by other platforms including Mozilla (which used Open Sans as its default typeface until 2019) and WordPress.
Fun fact: Steve Matteson is a big fan of the work of American type designer Frederic Goudy. Matteson lectures about Goudy's work and worked on revivals of Goudy’s Bertham, Friar, and Tory Text typefaces.
Open Sans is a humanist sans serif, meaning that it has more warmth than strictly geometric sans serifs, as well as organic roots in the style of its letterforms. This, combined with its exceptional legibility, has made it into one of the most popular fonts in the world, with over 4 billion views per day on more than 20 million websites.
In 2016, Matteson added a companion slab serif, Open Serif, to the Open family, which was also created with the goal in mind of enhancing the legibility of serif fonts on screens.
The Open Sans Font in Use: Flat Design and Political Branding
Flat design, which champions the use of minimal graphics and unnecessary styling, continues to be a widely popular style in user interface design because it allows for speedier load times and cleaner code. Open Sans was released at a time when app and web designers were promoting flat design, and with its legible and minimal style, the font quickly became a near-permanent fixture on flat designs across the web.
With a broad range of weights, from Open Sans Light and Open Sans Semibold to the body text-friendly Open Sans Regular font, the font family Open Sans quickly became a firm favorite of web designers in the 2010s.
Open Sans is also widely used in brand design. Its neutral and friendly character has made it popular in corporate, educational, and political identities, as well as being a common choice for body fonts in a wide range of brand identities.
The UK’s Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Co-Operative parties use Open Sans as their official font, as do a broad range of universities, including Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Washington University, and Tel Aviv University (which uses the Hebrew extension of the font developed by Israeli type designer Yanek Iontef in 2014).
How to Use Open Sans in Your Designs
There’s a reason why the Open Sans font family still tops web font lists today, a decade after it was created. It’s exceptionally versatile, neutral, and legible, making it adaptable for a wide range of purposes. Using Open Sans in your web and app designs is a no-brainer, and the font will complement minimal or flat designs particularly well.
Whereas Helvetica might seem a little impersonal, Open Sans will bring warmth and friendliness to text and communications, making it a great alternative to neo-grotesque and geometric sans serifs.
Although Open Sans is better known for its use on websites, it’s also available as a print typeface, making it adaptable for brand design, stationery, typesetting, posters, and other print media. Highly legible set at a small size, Open Sans is an excellent body font and is neutral enough to pair well with other type styles set as headers.
The Open Sans font family is available in a wide range of weights, including the standard Open Sans regular font and Open Sans bold, as well as Open Sans semibold, medium, and the Open Sans light font.
In all, the family has five weights (Open Sans Light, Normal, Semi-Bold, Bold, and Extra Bold), each with an Open Sans italic version, resulting in a total of ten versions. The broad range of weights and styles available, as well as the companion serif font, Open Serif, makes Open Sans extremely versatile and usable across both web and print.
Fonts Similar to Open Sans
In terms of what is a similar font to Open Sans, there are plenty of alternatives and tributes to choose from. While Open Sans will no doubt remain a web design favorite for years to come, you can choose a similar font to Open Sans which demonstrates more contemporary or unique features, to give your designs an edge.
So what font is similar to Open Sans? The fonts closest to Open Sans demonstrate some of the same trademark characteristics of the original, including humanist styling, minimalist letterforms, and a neutral yet open appearance.
Below, discover our selection of the 15 most similar fonts to Open Sans, from near-identical tributes to typefaces which take styling cues from Steve Matteson’s creation. When you're done check out the section that offers Open Sans font pairings.
A chunkier, squatter tribute to Open Sans with a reduced x-height, Aurel is suited to both headers and body text and comes in four versatile weights and four italics.
2. Bergen Sans
A more stylized take on Open Sans’s minimalist style, Bergen Sans takes its influences from Scandinavian type styles and the geometric typefaces of the Bauhaus. The Bergen Sans family has a companion family, Bergen Text, which has a slightly quirkier style.
3. Arkibal Sans
A member of a five-strong extended font family, including Arkibal Serif and Arkibal Display, Arkibal Sans balances vintage style with clean legibility. Based on old Copenhagen store signs, the font is readable and warm—a quirkier alternative to Open Sans.
4. Giga Sans
Looking for a more geometric alternative to Open Sans? Giga Sans is a bouncy sans serif with a clean, elegant appearance. Available in a huge range of nine upright styles and nine italics, the font looks just as good on strong headlines as it does set as body text.
An all-caps sans serif with the same clean, legible spirit of Open Sans, Rockyeah Sans has been designed with display in mind, and would be the perfect pairing for simply-designed logos or websites. Ligatures that kick out from some of the letterforms give the font a fun-loving personality.
6. Leo Sans
Modern, geometric, and clean, Leo Sans has an eye-catching, graphic style and is available in all caps for a striking look. It's a similar font to Open Sans in terms of character, but Leo Sans is better suited to poster or display purposes.
7. Fibon Sans
A softer alternative to Open Sans with a more hand-drawn quality, Fibon Sans is the kooky younger brother to Open Sans. Created by Hederae Creative Shop, the letterforms are rounded and ultra-legible, and come in six adaptable weights.
Delicate and minimalist, Monolith is a lighter humanist sans serif suitable for print and web. Created by Unio, the emphasis of the font is on clarity and readability, and it has a matching true italic.
Noirden is a bold sans serif in the tradition of neo-grotesque sans fonts like Helvetica. An exceptionally diverse font family of 12 weights and 60 web font versions, this is a comprehensive, modernist alternative to Open Sans.
Described as a ‘sporty’ sans serif by its designer NEWFLIX, Maximus is a characterful geometric sans serif with clean and stylized lettering and a dynamic appearance. This is a fun and bouncy sans serif suitable for more youthful branding and editorials.
11. George Sans
A rounded sans serif, George Sans is much more stylized than Open Sans, but it wins a spot on our list for its high legibility and open, friendly letterforms. Use it on logos, signage, and packaging design.
12. Avocado Sans
Optimistic, rounded, and youthful, Avocado is aptly named for its millennial-targeted style and character. Use the three-weight family for social images and branding aimed at younger audiences.
13. Electro Sans
Looking for a truly similar font to Open Sans? Electro is one of the closest matches for the original Open family, with excellent legibility and a classic humanist style. Created by Adam Johns of Webhance Studio, Electro Sans is a fantastic contemporary update on Open Sans.
Modern and ultra-minimal, Bolt is a more serious alternative to Open Sans but still retains the spirit of legibility and clean design that make Open so popular.
With a more exaggerated x-height than Open Sans, Ardent nonetheless is a close tribute to the Open family, taking its cues from the narrower Droid Sans. The family contains six weights and six italics, making it a diverse, versatile family that suits print and web design.
How to Pair Fonts
If you are totally inspired to use one of these awesome fonts similar to Open Sans and are wondering what fonts will pair well with the font of your choice, this section on how to pair fonts offers some suggestions.
- When pairing fonts avoid combinations that are too similar and aim for contrast in weight, size, style, colour, etc. Think chunky and thin, decorative and simple, or heavy and light.
- Decide which font will be used for copy text and which will be used for headlines. For example, if you are using fonts like Open Sans for your copy text, you can use a more decorative font for the headline text.
- Fonts have personalities: some are playful, others serious, stylish, causal, outrageous, etc. Your choice of font should complement your project style and purpose. Think about the project you'll be using the fonts in to determine which font will work well with the font similar to Open Sans. If, for example, you will be using Open Sans similar fonts in a business magazine for your body text, you will need a bold and serious font for your header text. On the other hand, if you are using fonts like Open Sans for the body text on a fashion flyer, you can go for a more decorative font for your header text.
- If the font of your choice offers a large font family with a range of weights and styles, it's a great idea to use these fonts together because they are made to work together. Just make sure you adhere to the first suggestion and aim for contrast.
- Serif and sans serif fonts usually work well together; again, just make sure you remember the first suggestion in this list and keep contrasting features in mind when you select your pairings.
Now let's take a looks at some Open Sans font combinations that work well together in the following font pairing charts.
Best Font Pairings for Open Sans Similar Fonts
If you're looking for the best font pairings for fonts similar to Open Sans, check out these font pairing charts that feature stunning font selections from Envato Elements.
Addington CF is a beautiful serif font that offers seven weights and italics that will pair well with the different weights and italics of Aurel.
As we indicated in our suggestions when it comes to achieving the best font pairings, if you're using a font similar to Open Sans that offers a range of weights within the family, then that is a great place to look for pairings. In our example here, the Arkibal font offers a whopping 18 weights from thin to heavy. In addition, it also offers italics and stencil styles in six weights. This means that when it comes to successful Open Sans font combinations, you are spoilt for choice. Just make sure that you create pairings that contrast sufficiently with each other.
What better font to combine with the clean and geometric Giga Sans than the expressive and fun Sallowbliss. With its light strokes, organic slant, and bouncing baseline, Sallowbliss offers the perfect contrast to Giga Sans.
The wonderful script font Greatly brings glamour and style to the more streamlined all-caps sans serif Rockyeah. An extra benefit of choosing Greatly is that it already includes a font similar to Open Sans that you can use in your pairing if you choose to.
Balance the delicacy of Monolith with the playfulness of Gatsby, a fun Art Deco vintage serif that offers five different styles for you to play with. With this combination, Gatsby is best used for a header and Monolith for copy text.
Inspired by vintage posters, Bristain Rought Serif Font is a great complement to the simpler and cleaner Noirden. Combine the two to create the perfect posters, labels, blog posts, and more.
Both George Sans and Breadley Serif offer a roundedness that complements each other, but they are different enough to offer the contrast that successful font pairs require. Breadley offers five different weights, so you can use it either for your body copy or header text.
These two modern fonts offer a complementary touch. Where Avocado is clean and simple, Cambridge is organic and personal. Use the two together for branding, packaging, and more.
You really can't do better than this terrific pairing. Sebastian is all about exuberance, with its wonderful ligatures and alternates. This is definitely the font you use when you want to catch the eye. On the other hand, Bolt is clean and legible, qualities you'll need when you want to hold attention.
The great thing about this pair is that they both offer a high level of legibility and a range of weights, so either can be used for body text or headline text. This is the kind of versatility that is useful when you're looking for fonts that you can return to over and over again in a wide variety of projects.
Conclusion: Fonts Similar to Open Sans
Perhaps no other font has had such a significant impact on modern web design as humble Open Sans. Riding the tide of popularity for flat user interface design in the early 2010s, the font family Open Sans has nonetheless proved to be a remarkably enduring typeface, still topping the most-used lists a decade after its creation.
Whether you're looking for the perfect font that's closest to Open Sans or terrific Open Sans font pairings, Envato Elements is your number one source.
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