There are hundreds of paid-for and free fonts available online.
Retro designs have the ability to transport audiences back in time so it’s important to choose a typeface that reflects the era that you’re representing. With the right font you can add age, texture and depth.
Here, we’ve selected some of our favourite retro-style font designs that won’t cost you a penny.
You can almost hear that old dot matrix scratching away
If you’re keen to nail the look of early 1990s desktop publishing, give Vladimir Nikolic’s Gradientico a try. It’s a fine-looking serif, bought to life by a splendidly scratchy halftone gradient that looks for all the world like it’s just inched out of a dot matrix printer after a long session with Pagemaker. It comes in regular and italic versions, and it’s free both for commercial and personal use.
Computer says yes
Remember when computer fonts were supposed to look like this? Inspired by Moore Computer – a 1968 font designed for use with automatic cheque and document reading equipment – Haike, by Otto Maurer Design, is a fabulously retro vision of the future and comes in nine weights for all manner of uses. It’s free for personal use; for commercial use you’ll need a licensed version, which comes with extra Opentype features.
Haarlem Deco is perfect for all your important announcements
Haarlem Deco is described by its creators, Fontdation, as a classic-retro-vintage-all-caps-semi-condensed-sans-serif typeface with an art-deco touch. Inspired by old Euro-American signage and advertising, it’s available as a free demo version with limited characters; you can get the full version with italics, multilingual characters and more from Fontdation for just £13.
West Side has a playful 1980s cartoon look
Inspired by handmade poster designs and illustrations from the 1980s, with maybe just a hint of Saul Bass, West Side is a block-styled, handcrafted display font created by Artimasa Studio. It’s big and bold with sharp edges, and is free for both personal and commercial use.
Palm Canyon Drive is a stunning mid-century inspired monoline script
You can get a free sample of premium monoline script Palm Canyon Drive – designed by Amy Hood, co-founder of Hoodzpah Design Co, in conjunction with retro and vintage design elements crafter RetroSupply – by signing up to the RetroSupply newsletter. (You’ll get a bunch of other retro and vintage-themed design elements, too.)
Inspired by mid-century Southern California, the retro font is perfect for adding some old-school west coast goodness to your designs. It’s as comfortable on a Tikki bar matchbook cover as it is on a Hollywood movie poster, and the sample weights are free for personal use.
Billionaire Medium Grunge is dripping with decadent charm
For an art deco look that’s pleasingly rough around the edges, Billionaire Medium Grunge is just the ticket. It’s just one of six fonts that make up the full Billionaire typeface by JumboDesign, and you can pick it up for free from Deeezy to give your work a bit of slightly faded sophistication.
Add a touch of elegance and style to your designs with Noir
Add a touch of elegance and style to your designs with this beautiful retro font Noir, by designer Matthias Guggisberg.
This family of retro fonts are ideal for vintage-style designs
Created by Swiss art director Juri Zaech, Frontage Condensed is a beautiful family of retro fonts. Perfect for any vintage-style designs, Frontage Condensed is available in a variety of weights, one of which, Outline, Zaech offers as a free download.
Designer Timo Titzmann is behind free retro font Say It Fat. A bold, slab typeface, Say It Fat is great for creating eye-catching retro-style posters and much more.
Portico is a display typeface, which includes an urban and rough version
Created by designer Mehmet Reha Tugcu, Portico is a display typeface, which includes an urban and rough version – perfect for any retro-style designs.
Add a touch of vintage to your designs with Monthoers typeface
Retro-style typeface Monthoers was created by graphic designer Agga Swist’blnk. She comments on Behance: “Monthoers is the latest version of Rochoes typeface, which I made almost a year ago. It is free for personal and commercial use.”
Hamster is a cursive typeface inspired by brush lettering and traditional sign painting
Hamster is a cursive typeface inspired by brush lettering and traditional sign painting. Crafted carefully to equalise its dynamic flow and legibility, Hamster is free to download for both personal and commercial use.
Transport your designs back to the ’80s with Lazer 84
Transport yourself back in time with Lazer 84. Created by art director Juan Hodgson, ’80s-inspired Lazer 84 is a retro-style brush font that comes complete with numbers, symbols and accents.
Graphic designer Kady Jesko created typeface Ansley after being unable to find a retro font that suited
Graphic designer Kady Jesko created typeface Ansley, after searching for a free retro-style font and couldn’t find one that suited. Jesko now generously offers it as a free download for both personal and commercial use, with donations, as ever, gratefully received.
Berlin is inspired by classic geometric typefaces
Berlin was created by Brazilian graphic designer and illustrator Antonio Rodrigues Jr. “Berlin is a group of display fonts, inspired by the classic geometric typefaces from early last century,” he explains. So far Rodrigues Jr has created four versions – Berlin, Berlina, Slaberlin and Uberlin – all of which are available in regular, bold and x-bold.
Need an arcade-themed font? Give Sabo a go
Sabo, by graphic designer Philippe Moesch, is a striking pixel-style font. Available in two styles – inline and filled – Sabo is great for any retro arcade-themed design.
This slab serif is inspired by bobber motorcycles
Looking for a unique typeface, designers Lucas Almeida and Dmitry Goloub decided to create their own. Inspired by bobber motorcyles, the duo developed this slab serif. With a cool, vintage design, this grid-based font is free to use for both personal and commercial projects.
Sergiy Tkachenko’s Glasoor is perfect for posters and logos
Created by type designer Sergiy Tkachenko, Glasoor is an experimental font with a playful retro design that’s perfect for posters, logos and more.
FORMAT: TTF, OTF
Zebrazil’s elegant forms and bold serifs give it a wonderful 1920s feel
Zebrazil was created by Burmese graphic designer Zarni. This deliciously retro font features lovely thin letterforms married to bold serifs, and is one of many created by Zarni, who generously offers his design as a free download.
A retro-contemporary offering from designer Anna Pocius
Unique was created by designer Anna Pocius aka Artmaker. She describes her design on Behance as “a display hybrid typeface, which is a little bit flashy, retro but still contemporary font designed specially for headings and logotypes”.
Canter is perfect for headlines and titles
Designed by New York-based creative Christopher J. Lee, Canter is an all caps, condensed typeface available in six different weights. It was designed as a display type for titles, headlines, and posters and will work well with any retro execution.
This free retro font comes in five different weights
Alt Retro Typeface is a free five-weight typeface that channels all the art deco inspiration you can muster. Perfect for eye-catching creations, Alt Retro is a playful font that will serve as a brilliant experimental offering. The intricate design makes it a stand out retro font.
This retro font is inspired by the designer’s hometown
This retro typeface was inspired by designer Konrad Bednarski’s new hometown. The free test version is available to download for free, with a corrected and extended version with more weights soon to be available. Like this font? You can also get Rispa Regular T-shirts, prints, tote bags, pillows and much more from Society6.
One of our favourite free retro fonts, Betty Noir is definitely worth checking out
This typeface was developed Blambot, a company that “proudly provides comic fonts and lettering”. You have to pay for many of its brilliant designs, but the team generously offer Betty Noir free for use in personal projects. This is one of our favourite free retro fonts, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Inspired by eras gone by, this is one of the coolest free retro fonts we’ve seen in a while
Inspired by eras gone by, this is one of the coolest free retro fonts we’ve seen in a while. Developed by Alice Creative, this typeface is available free for personal use, with donations to the author, as always, greatfully received.