Every great designer knows that the wrong font can totally change the direction of a project. It’s why we use Helvetica instead of Comic Sans and why we should stop using fonts like Lobster (yea…I said it!). Designers just have to know fonts.
Choosing the right font is a task. If you choose something too round, you risk making it look too youthful. Or if you choose something too bold, you may end up taking out the cheer in a design. It’s honestly one of the toughest jobs for amateurs and professionals alike.
There are tons of font sites out there that offer us free fonts for our designs. The problem is, honestly, most of them suck. They feature overused and cheesy fonts that many of us just don’t want and shouldn’t use. Well, have no fear! Today we’ve put together a list of places the really, really good fonts like to hide. If you do some snooping, you’ll find something awesome. So, let’s jump right in.
I never understood it, but most people who look for free fonts never go to the sites where you pay for fonts. While that sounds like perfect logic, they dismiss the fact that there are many authors who give out free demos of fonts or allow a certain weight and type to be downloaded for free. MyFonts is one of those sites and if you do a pretty specific search, you can find all the free fonts at once.
Many of us use Google Fonts as a way to use free webfonts online. It’s honestly one of the best free services available by Google. But they have so many fonts and the interface isn’t that conducive for finding fonts, especially for a project. Now, you can just open up a web search to find and download the font of your choice, but Fonts.com allows you to download and sync any of the Google fonts to your desktop for your use.
Hype For Type
HFT is another font site that’s known for selling high quality fonts. Whereas with MyFonts you have to do a bit of snooping for your free fonts, Hype For Type has already gathered them and made them available for your downloading pleasure.
The League of Moveable Type
This is a pretty well known site with a manifesto that aims to push the open source type movement. Quite frankly, they make some extremely high quality, trendy and all around useful fonts that you should really have in your arsenal if you don’t already. They have a strict process for getting fonts through to the consumer, so you know you’re getting some great work.
Dribbble is like show and tell for designers. Most of us are freelancers, cooped up in our offices with no one to talk to. Okay, it’s not that awful, but Dribble is a great resource for getting feedback on things you’re working on. Every so often, you’ll get someone who uses Dribbble more as a promotional tool for something available for free or download. With some good snooping, you can find some free (and sometimes exclusive) fonts available on Dribbble.
TypeTogether was created when two font designers came together and decided they wanted to make really awesome fonts for the world. While they can and have created some customized fonts for businesses, these two also offer free fonts to other designers. You’ll want to pay attention when you go to download these, as most require a discount code (that’s provided) in order to get them for free.
Again, we’ve found a paid font service that openly offers free fonts. While Fonthaus isn’t one of the most popular and high quality font retailers, you can do some digging to find a font that works for your taste.
Fontstruct is a web app that allows designers to essentially create their own typefaces with ease. I’ve personally played around with Fontstruct before and found it mildly confusing, however, there have been others who have found great success with it. Designers are encouraged to share the fonts they’ve created and many are available for download at Fontstruct.
Lost Type Co-Op
This is a co-op brought together by two guys who just wanted to offer some unique, trendy high quality fonts to people on a pay-what-you-want model. I assume people don’t want to purchase fonts because you end up getting a family of 5 weights for $300 — that may seem steep to some. So at Lost Type you can pay what you want, even if it is $0.
This blog seems to do a lot of snooping for you as they offer many free fonts available all over the place. Some designers even send them exclusive fonts to share with their readers. This is a great site to peruse to find some really awesome fonts.
The Type Depot is a font design studio based in Bulgaria headed by two people who wanted to make some great fonts. While you won’t find a ton of fonts here, there a couple free ones that are so imaginative and just great to have on deck for any upcoming designs.
I would recommend DeviantArt to amateur designers who want to get some of the best fonts available. Many users at DA create zip files with hundreds of fonts in them. Every so often, you’ll find a font designer put up a new font that’s available for download as well. So the best thing to do at DeviantArt is to keep a look out on some of things coming in. You can sometimes find a real gem.
Much like Dribbble, Behance is a place for designers to show off their work. You can discover people through all types of search queries such as location, skill set, programs used and much more. One of the more popular skillsets is Typography and every so often when you peruse through it, you see someone promoting a new font they’ve made.
One of the best ways to find some of the best free fonts is to look through some of the leading font foundries. Font Fabric is one of them and offers some great free font families as well as some at really affordable prices. If you cannot find a great free font on some of these larger sites, you definitely want to make sure you’re checking in with some font foundries.
Whenever I’m asked to recommend a website for designers to download free fonts, Font Squirrel is my first choice. Most of these fonts are not only free, but they’re free for commercial use as well. Font Squirrel also has @fontface kits for most fonts and they also have a web font generator for those that do not. This is a site all designers should keep bookmarked.
Hopefully, this list has shown you some things that you’ve never seen before and something that’s useful to you and your next project. Once you’re tired of the free fonts (which will probably be never) don’t be afraid to make a solid investment in a wonderful font that you find simply amazing. Best of luck in your search!
What’s your favorite source for free fonts? Have we missed a resource you can’t do without? Let us know in the comments.