Finding free fonts can be hard. Here is where you can find high-quality, original fonts to use for your brand and projects or help you with your experiments. Note: I also provided a list of resources at the end of the article on pairing fonts to use when finding your pair. Most of these can be used to find fonts as well, though not always free and usually it’s not a browse or search option.
Before we get into that list though and three reasons for each on why to use these resources, there are a few things you need to know when looking for a typeface. In this case, I am not referring to the actual graphic elements of a typeface. What I am referring to is the licensing. Similar to stock media, typefaces have licensing and copyright laws. Therefore, I recommend you read my article on Using stock photos for your brand and the entire section on Licensing to better understand the basics of licensing.
Google Fonts is my best friend for free fonts! Here is why it should be yours too.
No copyright or licensing issues. This means that all free fonts are actually free. Since Google is very strict about copyright and licensing laws, you will not find any typefaces on there that can cause you problems.
The search parameters include everything I want. This means font categories (serif vs sans-serif and more), alphabet available (Latin vs Cyrillic and more), weights, families, widths, and slants. What more could you need?
Families! This may seem like a weird one, but I love using as few fonts as possible when creating complicated hierarchies. Usually, I use only one or two fonts, rarely going into three. But this does not mean that I have to limit myself to one style. Font families allow you to use one typeface with multiple styles (ex. Roboto).
Before Google Fonts came out, Font Squirrel was my go-to for free fonts. Here are 3 reasons why.
The categories are to die for! If you are looking for something a little more different or unique and don’t want to limit yourself to searching for a “sans-serif font”, these categories include both classifications and tags!
Font filters for licenses. If you know me or have read any of my work, you must by now know that I am very particular about copyright and licensing. Which is why I love Font Squirrel’s classification for their free fonts in regard to license types.
Font identifier. This one may be mostly for designers, but even clients can make use of it. It allows you to use a photo of a font to try and find its name.
Since I discovered this one, I have to admit, it has beaten Font Squirrel. Here are 3 reasons why.
This one is less for searching and more for inspiration. I think I have downloaded over half the fonts on there and haven’t used most of them.
The selection is beautiful. I honestly have the feeling that this site has some quality check person that goes through to make sure only beautiful fonts make the cut. As mentioned, I have downloaded so many fonts just because I am looking for an excuse to use them.
Licensing information. For this one, you need to watch out because not all fonts are completely free for use. Each font, however, states this clearly, usually, right before the photos showing you the font.
Behance – a large library and collection of portfolios for so many designers. Fortunately for us, a lot of those are font designers. You just need to know what you are looking for and search accordingly. Note that this is not to search for only fonts and every designer on here has their own licensing and copyright rules, so be careful with what you choose.
Pixel Surplus – along the lines of graphic design freebies. Another huge library of carefully selected and curated fonts. They are beautiful and clean and, once again, licensing information is freely displayed close to or around the font description and download button. This one is, again, less for searching and more for browsing.
Adobe Fonts – if you have an Adobe subscription, you have access to Adobe Fonts. This is another huge library on the level of Google. Although these are not free fonts, they do come with your subscription.
Canva – I am honestly not a fan of Canva for design use since I have my Adobe software and am used to it, but it is a very good resource. Canva is perfect for those who want to do quick designs without paying hundreds for professional software and it comes with a pretty nice selection of typefaces to choose from.
WARNING FOR FREE FONTS!
There are a lot of websites out there that offer free fonts! Avoid them when possible. I will use one extremely popular one to explain my reason why: DAFONT. I love it, I love the categories, the variety, the uniqueness of some of the fonts there. Unfortunately, it can be VERY hard to find the proper licensing. Usually, you get a link letting you know the licensing status. Unfortunately, this does not follow the standard licensing conventions and you may end up with a font that is copyrighted.
Or even worse, it is possible that the font was uploaded by someone else (not the creator) and no licensing information is provided at all. DAFONT does a very well on covering their own asses with their FAQ page on copyright, but this does not cover you or your projects. For example, I have been part of two different project teams that have had problems due to copyrighted fonts chosen from this website! Use it, abuse it, love it, but be warned.