free fonts

thegirlnextdoor's picture

hi, i'm new here =)
anyone know websites that give loads of good free fonts?
thanks!

dan_reynolds's picture

Boy, you must be new here with a question like that! :-)

In general, there isn't a lot of free-font recommending going on around here. Many fonts that are offered for free online are actually pirated versions of commercial fonts. The designers of many of those commercial fonts tend to be represented here.

But for good resources on finding legit free fonts, try http://www.fontleech.com and http://www.typeforge.net/cms/index.php?option=com_weblinks&Itemid=29&lan...

Thomas Phinney's picture

My usual answer is that 99% of free fonts are junk, so "good free fonts" isn't an oxymoron, but boy are they hard to find. Now, admittedly, some noticeable percentage of retail fonts are junk, too, but it's a lot easier to find decent quality retail fonts.

T

gtrianta's picture

http://www.backpacker.gr

George Triantafyllakos - backpacker.gr

paul d hunt's picture

we've put together a list just for queries like this:

http://typophile.com/FAQ_Free

dan_reynolds's picture

Be carefull about dafont… there are lots of rip-offs there.

That's the biggest problems with free font sites… with too many free fonts you have to do extra homework to find out if the font is legit or not.

Giordano's picture

Misprinted Type offers some of their fonts for free. They're not suited to all uses, but they're interesting.

www.misprintedtype.com

.'s picture

Good. Cheap. Fonts. You can have two of the three. Or something like that.

George Horton's picture

Apostrophic Labs' Day Roman is the best free text font I've seen: it's the only accurate Guyot roman. Unfortunately, pairing it with the only accurate Guyot italic, DTL van den Keere italic, will cost you a minimum of €100. Perhaps it would be best to buy something else.

George Horton's picture

I like 'Category: Hard to Read' in the website above.

More useful and free for personal use are Igino Marini's Fell revivals, made along the lines, though without the sophistication, of Founder's Caslon.

.'s picture

Trying out another maxim: "You get what you pay for."

Miss Tiffany's picture

Indie Fonts: The Books.

I agree with Chester. You do get what you pay for.

thegirlnextdoor's picture

haha thanks all =D

Palatine's picture

On the topic of Apostrophic Labs' Day Roman, a few questions:

How does it compare to similar commercial fonts? It looks like a quality typeface, but without italics, unfortunately. DTL Van den Keere is one possiblity. Are there any others?

Do you like the contrast of Day Roman?

George Horton's picture

A few months ago I spent some time looking into John Day's work. Amongst other things, he, rather than Caslon, was the first English punch-cutter of serious ability, producing work which would seem to most of us now Garamondian, but which was really in the broad, light though low-contrast, serenely even manner of Jean de Tournes of Lyon - a kind of Renaissance Baskerville, though with better proportions.

Day put up the great Francois Guyot in his house for a while, and used a double pica roman and italic typeface of his; Day Roman and Heine's Tribute, issued by Emigre, are both modelled on this same type. Tribute was approved by John Downer but demolished by Bill Troop. In the same commentary, the Apostrophic Labs sketch of the roman, only a few hours' work, is held up as far more sensitive, though it could hardly have been other than 'inadequately conceptualised'. Having looked hard at the original, I agree, and the contrast is fine, but the descenders have been brutally truncated. I also like Tribute: it's hardly a revival, but very attractive, perhaps best thought of as 'Mrs Guyot'.

I don't actually know whether the DTL italic would synthesize at all with the Apostrophic roman, but each is good. I think you'd just have to play around if you really wanted to find a matching italic - Granjon italics might work.

jordy's picture

From another thread Vitaly Friedman's site is quite good and informative at
http://www.alvit.de/blog/article/20-best-license-free-official-fonts
Yes, you do get what you pay for, no Thomas 99% of free fonts are not necessarily crap, but, yes, there are a lot of rip-off fonts out there. For good or even great free fonts one need only look at Manfred Klein's stuff at http://moorstation.org/typoasis/designers/klein/
One might argue that since "bundled" fonts are free with purchased software that those fonts are crap, but they aren't are they? But this is another discussion.
Jordan

Palatine's picture

Thank your for your insight, Mr. Horton.

I've downloaded and printed some of Marini's Fell Revivals at 600dpi, and I'm speechless.

http://www.iginomarini.com/fell.html

Is it my untrained eye, or do these truly look beautiful. It is as if I'm reading one of the very early (modern) editions of Tacitus. The italics seem to have just the right amount of ink "spill" or thickening in certain areas, such as the italic lower case "n" in the De Walpergen Pica (at 10.5pt.) And the way the middle curl on the "w" is just a bit too thick to allow the inner white area to show through completely. This is really brilliant stuff.

George Horton's picture

They are lovely aren't they? You might also want to look at www.stormtype.com/ancienne.html.

Palatine's picture

Yes, Franta Storm's stuff is notable for excpetional quality. He loves to do revivals of old Eastern European faces. I've bought some fonts from StormTpye, and it's money well spent.

Even his free "Lido" is fantastic, although the TrueType version's italics lack kerning (or was it the OpenType version?) Anyway I already e-mailed him about this, and he was shocked. I assume he fixed this problem.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Let me re-phrase that: 95-99% of the free fonts that aren't rip-offs of retail fonts are junk. Then again, I think that at least 20-40% of retail fonts are junk, too. Maybe half or more when I'm in a bad mood.

I'm reminded of Sturgeon's Law. Science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon was asked why there was so much bad science fiction out there. He said: "Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud. That's because 90% of everything is crud."

(Interestingly, whenever this is quoted, people tend to replace "crud" with another word.)

Why yes, I do think the Eeyore world view is basically accurate. Why do you ask? :)

paul d hunt's picture

Why yes, I do think the Eeyore world view is basically accurate. Why do you ask? :)

i recommend reading the te of piglet. ;^D

Miss Tiffany's picture

I want to add that there are very quality free fonts availabe. For instance what Victor has to offer over at SIL is incredibly useful and good quality too. FontShop has free downloads occasionally of gorgeous and incredibly tasty fonts. There are some excellent and fun fonts for download at various other sites. I'll just eat my words. FREE is a tainted word. :^/

.'s picture

And don't forget that a lot of those "free" fonts are not freely licensed: if one ends up using the font(s) in for-profit work, many of the them stop being free.

canderson's picture

I think it's cool when font vendors give out functional samples for free. Its an example of how free-as-in-beer aren't always garbage. Usually the samples are going to be suficciently limited, perhaps just one "weight", that one couldn't use them for a complex project. Fontfont's free stuff would be a good example of this.

Also I really dig Archive Type's "sampler" font. It's at the bottom of this page. http://www.archivetype.com/FreeStuff.htm

.'s picture

In all events, I think that most foundries offer one or two free fonts; ours are simply presented as part of our overall collection without any special call-outs.

DTL offered some "trial" fonts - maybe they still do? - with complete miniscules, but only 6 or so majuscules, basic punctuation, and 3 or so numerals. It was a good way to get a feel for how the type might set up and colour the page, but was not possible to use for a job. (Unless you were setting an e.e. cummings poem, maybe...)

Miss Tiffany's picture

Exactly, Chester. For instance, the EULA for Blambot's free fonts is quite explicit about this.

hankzane's picture

In perspective: 98% of replies in this thread are junk. And you get what you pay for with the other 2%.

.'s picture

Is that "Sergej's Law"?

hankzane's picture

No, it's a rip off that I distribute for free. Hence the questionable quality ...

Chris Rugen's picture

Underware, at TypeCon 05, was selling small sample books for Dolly and Sauna for about $10 or something. Each was filled with interesting facts and stories related to and set in the font and each included a CD with the entire font family on it for trial use. I thought that was a brilliant idea and bought both. I've been suggesting them to clients where appropriate and am scraping together cash myself because they're both great faces and I've had a chance to try them out (someday soon I'll have them). It makes my life as a designer so much easier.

Also, I've actually licensed a font family from FontShop because of their free single weight downloads, which I used in a comp for a client.

Both of these are good examples of quality type for free (I consider the cost of the first one to be for the books, not the fonts), but one has restricted usage and the other has the restriction of being one weight, so there's a trade-off. But it seems like a fair one to me.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Maybe we need a better word than "free". :^/

Dan Weaver's picture

I notice that designers who are promoting font families often tend to offer one weight of a commercial font for free. Its a loss/leader, as they want you to try the one weight and realize you need the other weights as well. A good example would be the "free" fonts from the Indie Fonts books.

hankzane's picture

What's a good font anyway?

Nick Shinn's picture

One that works technically: outlines that render, full and correct characters, (family) naming that shows up in the font menu and works cross platform.
Hinting, perhaps.

However, like dogs, there's no such thing as a bad typeface.

Si_Daniels's picture

Technical "goodness" is easy to measure using a tool like Font Validator, which in a TTF looks for outline, hinting, naming, metrics and other table errors.

Beyond that goodness is harder to quantify.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Yes. Once again we've hit the subjective -- beauty in the eye of the beholder -- quandry.

William Berkson's picture

A good font suits its purpose well--book, screen, newspaper, phone book etc etc--and has good aesthetic quality as well. There is a subjective element of course, but it's not all subjective.

The 'suiting the purpose' has a lot of objective elements: if for extended reading it's comfortable to read at the intended size; it doesn't waste paper, if that is a need, it can get the readable result with the technology available, etc.

Aesthetics have a fairly large scope of at least inter-subjective standards. You can talk about balance, variety, color across very different kinds of typeface. Just as Picasso's women are often ugly, but well drawn by a lot of graphic design standards. Then there is also the element of personal taste, of course. But it isn't all a matter of personal taste and preference.

For example, for the screen at 10 pt Georgia is better than University Roman. I also happen personally to detest University Roman, but that is another matter.

Thomas Phinney's picture

I recently wrote a lengthy blog post on font quality, here: http://blogs.adobe.com/typblography/2005/12/quality_in_type.html

We can debate the aesthetics part of this, but there definitely IS such a thing as a bad font when one is talking about the technical and craft aspects of font design.

There are of course some really first-rate free fonts out there, and this is a fine place to come and get pointers to them. But even among those, there are precious few that can give you a serifed text face that comes complete with regular, bold, italic and bold italic variants. If you need a basic family like that, some otherwise great free fonts won't fit the bill (e.g. Gentium).

Cheers,

T

typotheticals's picture

Agreed, there are bad fonts, but as has been mentioned, a font should be individually appraised by each person for their needs and not automaticaly assumed that an 'experts' opinion is one that should be accepted.

Norbert Florendo's picture

I wonder if there has been another industry (other than the current plague of unauthorized copying and distribution of "free" music and videos) that virtually gave away its products.

I understand the marketing brilliance of Gillette giving away free razors with handle when launching Mach2 and Mach3, since you can't keep shaving with the same razor forever.

I know that in the infancy of software development, PC based games, freeware, etc., somehow initiated no cost benefit to end users.

I realize that font bundling, originally done by equipment manufactures and now by software companies, gave away enough fonts in order for the end user to get a running start.

But the perpetuating concept of FREE FONTS to new users of type has created a consumer base that think fonts are too expensive to buy.

On one side is the user base, which is comprised mostly of individuals and companies who don't (or don't now how to) make money using type. Yes, it's not like the "ol' days" when typesetting service cost money and type shops bought fonts as part of business.

I think the agencies and graphic designers today are forgetting (or ignoring) the typesetting aspect of what they do. Somehow, even if the client provides the text file, the use of the type itself should have value. For instance, when estimating or billing a newsletter why can't you assign a typesetting fee for characters set? New typefaces are premium priced.

  • 1500 characters using FF Absara Sans (new design) @ $.005 per character = $7.50
  • 800 characters using Adobe Jenson Pro (bundled InDesign) @ $.001 per character = $.80
  • 1700 characters using Helvetica (bundled with equipment) @ $.00 per character = $.00

Even if you (the designers out there who want fonts for free) don't actually put this fee on the invoice, you should calculate it into the final price to the client.

You should be thinking in terms of the value of type on paper or screen. Your grandpa made money setting type, so why are you giving it away.

alchion's picture

Danish design firm Kontrapunkt won best typeface design in Denmark back in 2004 and still offers this winning font as a free download. Not exactly my personal aesthetic but apparently 50000 yes 50000 downloads means many like this design including mega sport brand Adidas who is now using it in their branding.
here is link

http://www.kontrapunkt.com/news/ddprize_typeface_of_the_year_2004

Thomas Phinney's picture

Typotheticals,

"Agreed, there are bad fonts, but as has been mentioned, a font should be individually appraised by each person for their needs and not automaticaly assumed that an ‘experts’ opinion is one that should be accepted."

If "each person" is a knowledgeable graphic designer or a typographer, maybe. But many graphic designers do not have sufficient knowledge.

Worse, most other users are certainly not able to appraise these issues. That's why when given access to the internet they download fun but badly made fonts and use them in highly inappropriate ways. Or they just use Times and Arial (or Helvetica) without even thinking, which in such cases might be an improvement.

Of course, you yourself make somewhat lower quality and much less expensive retail fonts, and I sought out my job at a company that makes relatively high quality and expensive (when not bundled) fonts, so I guess it's predictable that we would have opposite views on this matter, eh wot?

T

thegirlnextdoor's picture

i love misprintedtype, it's really cool ^^

typotheticals's picture

Thomas

While some views are opposing, I am generally in agreement with you. There are a lot of free fonts out there which are bad. I am probably responsible for a good proportion of them myself.

Well crafted fonts should be the priority in any commercial endeavour, but a lot (not all) of people after free fonts, as the original question in this thread was, are not after them for commercial use, therefore they should have the ability to use any font, good or bad, as long as it suits the effect and appeal they want. Advise is always acceptable of course.

Also, thanx for the casual backhand slap across the face. Unfortunately I am not priveliged like some to have skill, training and the access to a company who is prepared to supply all the goodies and assistance required to make better fonts, So I will plug away at the rubbish I seem to be making, teaching myself by my own mistakes and enjoying it. I have never deluded myself, or others, that I am anything but average. I do it in the spare time I have, and as a family man, do not let it become the do all and be all of my existence.

All best.
G

typotheticals's picture

Ha, after reading that I have no skill at writing either.

Partial quote 1 - "some noticeable percentage of retail fonts are junk" (earlier post)
Partial quote 2 - "Of course, you yourself make somewhat lower quality and much less expensive retail fonts" (later post)

What's the assumption here ? Not disagreeing, just wondering. Am I a 'noticable percentage' to you ?

oldnick's picture

Graham, you have no need to apologize for what you are doing. A simple fact which seems to have eluded most of the participants in this particular forum is that free fonts constitute a first line of defense against font theft. You may notice that our clueless little friend who began this thread didn't ask where she could find "a few good free fonts"; rather, she was interested in acquiring LOADS of free fonts.

In our acquisitive society, those among us who sell our fontwares benefit from the phenomenon by which fonts have acquired the cachet of bling, which—as everyone knows—one cannot have too much of (remember: whoever dies with the most fonts, wins). If there were not LOADS of free fonts to be had, our greedy little friends would most likely turn to acquiring pirated commercial fonts, much like they turn to acquiring pirated commercial music (maybe someone with the RIAA ought to be paying attention here).

So, rather than slamming the creators of freeware fonts, more people engaged in the selling of fonts ought to be thanking them: they do what they do because they love doing it and, in the process, they perform an invaluable service for those of us who do it for love AND money...or just money.

Thank you, Graham, and everyone else who satisfies the gluttons...

dan_reynolds's picture

Nick, that is positively the strangest explanation of possible free-font benefits I have ever heard!

Stranger things are true in our world, however. Who knows?

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