Today, I am happy to begin a new MakeUseOf tradition: Free Font Friday. If you are bored with Times New Roman, Calibri and Arial, this is one regular column you are going to like. Once a month, I will be presenting you with top-quality fonts by designers from all over the world. Not all of the fonts are new, because unlike many other things in the world of technology, some fonts stand the test of time (Helvetica has been with us for over 50 years now!).
Professional fonts often come in several weights, and some font foundries and designers started using this as a sort of a business model: Sometimes, only the Italic weight (for example) would be free, while other weights would cost money. Still, that means you get a variant of a very professional font for no money at all. So, without further ado, let’s get started with this month’s picks!
Anivers is one of two fonts I will be presenting this month from the same foundry: exljibris. This chunky, modern-looking font was originally created to celebrate the anniversary of Smashing Magazine, one of my favorite design blogs. It is available in five weights, but only the Regular weight is free. The good news is that for a font, Anivers is remarkably affordable: The commercial weights cost $10 each (fonts can easily go up to hundreds of dollars).
While I would not use Anivers as a body font, it can make some truly striking headlines. I can also really see it being used for signages. Check out the bold YUKATAN in the screenshot above. As readable as it is modern.
I promised you two fonts from exljibris, and here comes number two: Calluna Sans. As you may gather from the name, it is actually based on another typeface, called Calluna. Calluna (the original) is a respectable-looking serif, meant for body copy. Coupled with the flowing, modern lines of Calluna Sans for headlines, the pair can make a truly striking combination. The Regular weights are free, both for Calluna and Calluna Sans. As you can see above, the font contains a generous helping of OpenType features, including discretionary ligatures (which are perhaps too liberally used in this specimen, but they do make the point).
Novecento is a font by Synthview, a graphic and type design company. It is an uppercase-only font, but a whopping six weights are offered for free. So while you probably won’t be using it for body copy, the different weights can make for some very striking headlines and banner ads. As befitting a professional font, Novecento is brimming with OpenType features such as tabular figures (figures of the same width always align, regardless of weight), fractions, alternate letter shapes for Q, N, I, J, Y, and 0, and more. In fact, here’s a screenshot showing those alternate glyphs:
Pretty cool, right? Definitely an attractive font if you are out to make a bold statement with a headline.
I am in a Windows 8 sort of mood today, and Satellite has echoes of Metro all over it, although designer Matt Yow doesn’t share much about his sources of inspiration. Mr. Yow also doesn’t make it easy to link to the page containing the font: You will have to click through to his website, and then click on Type Design. As a bonus for your troubles, you will get one more free font on the same page, called Tidal.
For the last font in this first roundup, I picked something a bit on the arty side. Sketchetik is probably not a font you will use every day (or every month, for that matter), but it’s nice to have for that specific hand-drawn look (for captioning webpage wireframes, for example). As you can see above, Sketchetik has four weights, but only the Light weight is offered for free.
Open To Suggestions
To sign off, I would like to call all typography buffs in the audience: Are there awesome free downloadable fonts you would like to see featured here? If you point me towards something special and interesting, I promise I will credit you on the next post in this series.