The art of type design is for a special breed of designer. The insane attention to detail required to create typefaces is enough to drive the average person crazy, as every subtle curve and rule matters.
If you’re a novice to the world of typography, you’ll most likely be familiar with text type, or fonts created to be legible and readable at small sizes. Display typefaces, on the other hand, are less about legibility (though it is still important), and more about personality, character and distinctiveness.
Both styes are incredibly useful for designers, serving a unique purpose for every project. With this in mind, here’s a list of 17 free display and text typefaces you can download right now:
This one literally blew me away when I first saw it: “Valentina typeface is a sincere tribute to my grandmother in the form of typography and therefore bears her name. Valentina is a classic didone that follows some of the canons proposed by Bodoni in the eighteenth century but incorporates many of the characteristics of the antique Spanish punches of the time. It is a complete font of 457 glyphs, in which there are 125 alternative lower cases or the 46 ligatures.”
Not your traditional modular typeface, Sullivan is a bold display face that comes in three variations. Each can be used effectively on their own or layered for a uniquely modern, industrial effect.
Inspired by the ’57 poster “Hiroshima” designed by Wim Crowell, Nagasaki is a very intense, bold and condensed face. It’s particularly legible in short words and phrases.
4. FV Almelo
“This is an all caps condensed rounded free font ideal for logo design, packaging, headline or editorial design. The capitals are the standard glyphs, if a character has an alternative you’ll find it using lower case. Because of its nod to the past I named it Almelo, city where I was born.”
Sablon is a handmade EPS font “based on din-bold outlines using the add and subtract circles around the edges.” It’s distinct, with a high-fashion feel.
6. Edding 850
Edding 850 is a free modular font built by the famous Büro Destruct design studio. As the font evolved, it was broken down to its simplest form, based only on the thick and thin strokes, which created a modular system that could be assembled digitally. Read our full review here.
Surprisingly legible, Average was created in a very mechanical and scientific process. From the creator: “Average is a typeface that emerged from a long process of research into text typeface families from various different historical periods, both classical and contemprary. The idea was to design an average font for use in text, through a lengthy process of shape measurement and data gathering in spreadsheets. Once the parameters were defined and best values were selected, the forms for the Average Regular typeface were drawn.”
“Static is contemporary free font constructed with strong geometric forms in monospaced style. Applicable for any type of graphic design – web, print, motion graphics etc and perfect for t-shirts and other items like posters, logos.”
From the creator: “I always liked to draw some typefaces and this is my first slab serif. It’s grid based and it’s called Bobber because it’s vintage style. If you like it and want to use it, just give me a heads up. It is totally free, even for commercial use.”
Archive is a free contemporary font “constructed with strong geometric forms. Applicable for any type of graphic design – web, print, motion graphics etc and perfect for t-shirts and other items like posters, logos.”
11. Handwritten Fonts by Kevin & Amanda
Kevin & Amanda turn submitted samples into fonts, which yield a very authentic look. This style won’t work for most projects, but if you’re ever in need of that handwritten look, this site is basically a never-ending supply.
12. Frontage Outline
“Frontage is a charming layered type system with endless design possibilities using different combinations of fonts and colors. Achieve a realistic 3D effect by adding the shadow font or just use the capital letters of the regular and bold cut for stark artwork.”
Note: only Frontage Outline is free.
“Silverfake is a new contemporary slab serif wide free font designed Alexey Frolov a.k.a MRfrukta. He brings us some unique ‘old style’ feeling which is presented in contemporary curves that make the font applicable for both – retro and modern designs.”
14. (15, 16) Free fonts from House Industries
House Industries is giving away 3 fonts: House Slant, United Stencil and Spaceage Round. All are excellent in their own right, and are definitely worth a peak for any type obsessed designer. Read our full review here.
17. Oil Can
“Remember when service meant something? This font is inspired by those early day service stations.”
It’s quite quirky, but comes together nicely.
➤ Oil Can
These are some of our favorites that have popped up recently. We’ve rounded up impressive typefaces before, so you might want to check out January’s 9 Free Display Typefaces or these 11 Sexy Script Fonts. If you think we missed something, definitely let us know in the comments below!