20 best free fonts of 2017

We all love a free font. But with so many new free fonts continually being released, it’s easy to get a little lost.

01. IBM Plex

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IBM has open-sourced its alternative to Helvetica Neue, IBM Plex

It’s taken a few decades, but this year IBM finally created its own bespoke typeface, IBM Plex, using it to replace Helvetica Neue on its software, websites, marketing and more, and save itself a lot of cash in the process.

And as an early Christmas present for designers everywhere, it also made the font free and open source, so you could save some cash too.

IBM Plex is available in 110 languages, in serif and sans serif versions, and in eight weights. Get it from IBM’s GitHub site and start using it today.

02. Dubai

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The city state of Dubai has its own font, and you can use it for free

Dubai is a free font created by the Middle Eastern city-state and tourist destination, essentially as a promotional tool. Featuring both Latin and Arabic characters, it was crafted in collaboration with Microsoft and initially released only to Office 365 subscribers, but has since been made free for everyone.

Designed by Nadine Chahine of Monotype, this extra condensed display font is a good choice for titles and posters requiring big and bold lettering.

You need to give your name and email address to download it, but there’s no verification, so if you’re paranoid about your details ending up on a government database, you could always use a fake one. If you have an Office 365 subscription, though, you don’t need to bother as it will have been installed automatically.

03. AtF Spark

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AtF Spark is a font that turns numbers into little data visualisations

Now here’s something a bit different. AtF Spark bills itself as “the world’s first code-free sparkline typeface”. In other words, this clever typeface turns the numbers you type into inline data visualisations.

It’s all inspired by Edward Tufte’s sparklines, which are simple, word-sized graphics with typographic resolution. You can see some examples in orange, green and blue above.

To use it, all you need is a font file, some text, and an application that can make use of OpenType Contextual Alternates, such as an up-to-date web browser, Adobe Illustrator or Microsoft Word.

04. Spectral

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Spectral can “shapeshift” to fit any responsive design

Designed by Prototypo and its partner Production Type, Spectral is a parametric font, which means it can “shapeshift” to match any design.

While responsive websites are its most obvious application, its makers invite you to: “Imagine shop windows that react according to the movements of passers-by. Think data visualisation mixing info and text or websites with a readability enhanced for visually impaired people.”

You can learn more about this intriguing new typographical technology in this Prototypo blog post.

05. Hack

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Hack is specifically designed for displaying source code

Hack is a free and open source typeface designed for the express purpose of displaying source code. It includes monospaced regular, bold, italic, and bold italic sets, so however you like to highlight your code, it should serve your needs.

It’s also multilingual, with 1,567 glyphs at time of writing, including extended Latin, modern Greek, and Cyrillic character sets.

06. Bourbon Grotesque

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This beautifully retro sans-serif has a range of potential uses

Bourbon Grotesque is a free sans serif typeface made available by Jeremy Vessey, a type designer and the founder of Hustle Supply Co. This versatile, vintage-style font is perfect for all your hipster-tinged projects. It’s available for free download on his website in return for your email address.

07. Pissjar Sans

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A deliberately disgusting font from a Swedish punk band

Tired of beautiful, elegant-looking fonts? Well, here’s something that’s been designed to be deliberately ugly and off-putting. Pissjar is the creation of the Swedish punk band of the same name, which they crafted for the cover of their debut album, Apathy and Cheap Thrills. It’s free to download from their website (where you can also see a glimpse of how they made it, if you really want to).

08. Gilbert

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Gilbert is a tribute to the late Gilbert Baker, creator of the rainbow flag

In March this year Gilbert Baker – the artist and activist who designed the rainbow flag, a universal symbol of gay pride – sadly passed away. To honour him, Ogilvy teamed up with type foundry Fontself and LGBTQI organisations NewFest and NYC Pride to create a cool new font in tribute.

Baker designed the iconic flag in 1978, and so the font takes its palette choices from both the flag itself and the hues of that era. Its creators hope that it will be used for rally and protest banners.

Two versions of Gilbert (a standard vector font and a colour font in OpenType-SVG format) are free to download from the Type with Pride site, along with accompanying artwork. The aim is to eventually develop it into a full font family, and you can keep an eye on progress towards this goal on this blog.

09. Zilla Slab

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Mozilla’s new branding came with a new font, which has since been released to the community as a free download

Back in January, Mozilla released a striking new logo and branding for 2017. And more recently, it’s made the font used in its creation a free download for everyone to use.

It was designed by Typotheque, which drew on its own slab serif font, Tesla, as the basis for its development. With smooth curves and true italics, Zilla Slab provides a business-like look and feel, as well as a high level of readability at all weights.

The first free font to be provided by the Mozilla Foundation, Zilla Slab is also open source so you can contribute to its development on Github.

10. Noto Serif CJK

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The shape of particular characters in Noto Serif CJK adjust depending whether the text is vertical or horizontal

If you’re creating designs that need to be translated into both Eastern and Western languages (or which combine different alphabets within the same design), you’ll be pleased to discover Noto Serif CJK, which was released in April.

The result of a partnership between Google and Adobe, this font is designed to look consistent across Chinese, Japanese and and Korean (CJK) characters as well as the English, Cyrillic and Greek alphabets. It’s free to download from Google Fonts, Github or Adobe Typekit, where it’s titled Source Han Serif.

Noto Serif CJK serves as a companion font to Noto Sans CJK (aka Source Han Sans), a sans serif released in 2014 that also maintains its style across CJK scripts.

11. Entra

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A new free font for 2017, Entra would work well in logos and headlines

Entra is an original and unusual looking font that’s designed for use in logos and eyecatching headlines. A modern looking caps-only font, its combination of sharp corners and rounded shapes is quite unique. Designed by Gatis Vilaks and Wild Ones Design, this font is free for personal and commercial use.

12. Aganè

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Top freebie Aganè was inspired by three classic fonts

Designed by Swiss graphic, UI and type designer Danilo De Marco, Aganè was inspired by Noorda Font by Bob Noorda, FF Transit by Erik Spiekermann, and Frutiger by Adrian Frutiger. Created for use in wayfinding signage, the inclinations in the terminals have been designed to optimise legibility from a variety of reading perspectives. This clean sans-serif would also work well in user interfaces. It’s free for personal and commercial use.

13. Cookit

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This tall and bold font is free for both personal and commercial use

Cookit is a fun display font designed by Sérgio Haruo of Jundiaí, Brazil. This tall, bold, caps-only font would work well in logos, branding and indeed any graphics that need to arrest the attention. It’s free for both personal and commercial use.

14. Leafy

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Use Leafy to give a handmade feel to your designs

Leafy is a free, all-caps, brush font that’s useful for any design aiming at a personal, handmade feel. Brushed by Ieva Mezule and put together by Krisjanis Mezulis of Latvian agency Wild Ones Design, this font includes 95 unique, hand-crafted characters. It’s free for both personal and commercial use.

15. HK Nova

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HK Nova is inspired by Futura and Century Gothic

Created by Dubai-based graphic designer Alfredo Marco Pradil, HK Nova is a free sans-serif font. Inspired by both Futura and Century Gothic, it’s supplied in three versions: Standard, Rounded and Narrow, and the creators urge you not to be afraid to display it “as large as possible”. This font is free for personal use only.

16. Womby

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Womby is a great free font for your personal design projects

Womby is a fun free font created by Cagri Kara, a multidisciplinary art director and graphic designer based out of Los Angeles. Great for graphic design, especially posters, and recently updated, this caps-only font is free for personal use only.

17. Ginora Sans

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Ginora Sans is a quirky and stylish sans-serif

Ginora Sans is a sans-serif with spacious characters and elegant circles. Decidedly quirky, it could be used in both logos and editorial design. Free for both personal and commercial use, this stylish font comes courtesy of Brazilian designer Matheus Gomes.

18. Cheque

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Cheque instantly summons up a vintage feel

Cheque is a free display font based on geometric shapes, which has a classic, vintage look to it. Designed by Mirela Belova of Sofia, Bulgaria, its Regular and Black versions are both free for personal and commercial use.

19. Manoyri

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Manoyri recreates the look of marker pen writing

Based in Athens, Greece, Stergios Tsiamis and Iordanis Passas are the graphic designers behind this cool new free font. Manoyri recreates the look of handwriting using a marker pen, and would work well in advertising, branding, headlines and logos. It’s free for personal and commercial use.

20. Gritstone

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Script font Gritstone is ideal for logos and branding

Gritstone is a bold display script font that features heavy, loopy characters. Ideal for logos, branding, badges, T-shirts and posters, this free font is the work of Canadian agency Pixel Surplus and is free for both personal and commercial use.


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