Spring is upon us, and today I bring you a diverse selection of five free fonts, each with its own angle and story. We’ve got one for the coders, and one classic open-source font that you probably already have (but need to use more!), a classy-looking serif, a playful retro piece, and last but certainly not least, a font with an amazing animation video showcasing it.
Coders need to stare at text all day long, and they have very particular demands. The zeroes must be crossed and easy to tell apart from the Os, the font must be monospaced (of course), and the font should preferably be cross-platform so that you don’t get disoriented when switching between operating systems.
Tamsyn is a free font by Scott Fial that is under active development and offers all of these features. It takes a bit from MonteCarlo, a bit from Consolas (my own personal favorite monospace typeface), classic Fixedsys, and more.
The Tamsyn webpage itself serves as a showcase for the font. It is rendered using the font itself, even if you don’t have the font installed. The font has six sizes, and you can switch between them by clicking a link on the page, so you get to check the whole font out without downloading anything.
The only thing really missing from the page are some code examples – this is a programmer’s font, and I would love to see what it looks like with PHP or HTML, perhaps highlighted using the excellent Solarized color scheme.
Yup, that’s Braille code you see up there, but DejaVu Serif is not a Braille typeface: It is a “do-it-all” font, part of the excellent DejaVu font family. DejaVu fonts come standard with Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenOffice.org, and other open-source projects. The family includes serif, sans-serif, and monospaced fonts (excellent for coders).
I’ve chosen to highlight the serif variant, thanks to a recommendation from MakeUseOf commenter AlanSchex, who singled out the font out of the entire DejaVu family. Let me show you a specimen that doesn’t use Braille:
This specimen is taken right out of the Wikipedia page fot the DejaVu family – and really, how many free font families get pages on Wikipedia? This is one font that deserves more love, especially from Windows-folk.
The name Arvo is a typical Estonian man’s name, but is not used widely any more. In the Finnish language, Arvo means “number, value, worth.” Considering how much programming is behind hinting, ‘number’ is also true.
To me, Arvo looks more American than anything else, with its conservative, blocky serif look. It works very well both for larger text and for body copy:
I could definitely see Arvo in print.
If Arvo seems sedately American (at least to me), Ballpark Weiner is over the top. Its designer, Micky Rossi, does not take credit for this font, stating it is merely a recreation of a font he could not find in a digital format. It may not be as painstakingly hinted as Arvo, or useful on a daily basis as DejaVu and Tamsyn, but Ballpark Weiner sure has style.
This is one of those fonts that needs to be taken in moderation – be careful, because you could easily overdo it. If you manage to use it in restraint, it can create quite an impact.
Remember that font with the video I promised you? Well, here comes PLSTK! This Creative Commons-licensed font emphasizes playfulness over utility, but it is certainly eye-catching:
To be perfectly honest, I can’t see myself using PLSTK in any sort of real-life situation. But this font sure gets points for effort, thanks to both an imaginative concept and a fantastic video. I wish all fonts came with videos this impressive, really.
Well, that about wraps up this month’s Free Font Friday! What did you think of these fonts? Will you be using any of them? Did you discover DejaVu fonts already installed on your computer?
And speaking of DejaVu, I would love to hear about any hidden gems you find on your computer. I mean fonts that are already installed for many people, but don’t get enough love. Tell me about these in the comments, and I might write them up next month!