There are two types of fonts in the world: free ones and ones you have to pay for.
And while on one hand you get what you pay for (quality in ways you can't understand until you need a full font set), on the other hand sometimes the best things in life really are free.
So is the case with fonts. Quality can come at a price, and there are some advantages with buying a font but there are plenty of free ones that will do the job. Just be sure to take a few moments to read the readme.txt file that usually comes zipped up with the font.
Whether you need it to create web graphics to enhance a site, decorate a flyer to print out and display or design a logo, there are plenty of fantastic fonts that will help convey and communicate your message.
We'll be having a look at five of the most popular and best font sites on the Internet...
There's not many sites on the world wide web that allow you to choose your own color scheme for the entire site, but Da Font is one of them (check out the top right hand link "Site Color").
The site is well ordered and laid out. The front page greets you with the three most recent additions. But clicking on New Fonts is the first thing I like to do to see.
Top 100 gives a quick taste of what's the most popular.
"Font Authors" allows you to view by Author. A handy feature if you find yourself drawn to the work of any particular author. As they tend to have a style all their own, and you kind find similar font styles in theme or quality.
There is a Custom Preview with each font, handy for taking the font for a test drive.
They have their categories under the following groups: Fancy, Foreign, Techno, Bitmap, Gothic, Basic Script, Dingbats and Holiday Themes
And the site is also available in French.
With over 8,000 freeware fonts you'll be forgiven for being a little apprehensive. But Urban Fonts makes it easier by featuring a Search tool (top right hand side of the page) and also sharing results of what the Top Searches are. The bigger the tag the more people have been hitting it.
The fonts are displayed in their own names, but if you mouse over you get to see the font applied to the entire alphabet in both lowercase and uppercase.
By clicking on your favored font you get taken to its own page where you are treated with the ability to do a Custom Preview, so type in your name or word there and see it automatically render the word with the font from 8 point all the way up to 160 point. You can also select a custom color for the font, and also for the background.
The collection is broken down into these categories: 3D, Adventure, Arabic, Asian, Beveled, Brush, Calligraphy, Celtic, Chinese, Comic, Computer, Curly, Decorative, Dirty, Distorted, Dotted, Embossed, Famous, Fire, Foreign, Funky, Futuristic, Gothic, Graffiti, Greek, Handwritten, Headline, Holidays, Japanese, Modern, Monospaced, Old English, Old Fashioned, Outline, Pixel/Bitmap, Retro, Rounded, Russian, Sans-serif, Scary, Serif, Sophisticated, Square, Stencil, Typewriter and Western.
1001 Free Fonts is an independent free fonts distributor which started in Ireland. They first opened their doors in late 1998 and receive more than 40,000 visitors daily. They proudly boast that over one billion fonts have been downloaded since 1998.
The site itself lacks the spiffy design sense of the others, and less bells and whistles when previewing the sites, but it ranks highly with a vast selection of quality fonts from the following categories:
3D Fonts, Animal Fonts, Arabic Fonts, Army/Stencil Fonts, Asian Fonts, Bitmap/Pixel Fonts, Brush Fonts, Calligraphy Fonts, Celtic Fonts, Christmas Fonts, Comic Fonts, Computer Fonts, Curly Fonts, Decorative Fonts, Distorted Fonts, Dotted Fonts, Famous Fonts, Fire Fonts, Gothic Fonts, Graffiti Fonts, Greek/Roman Fonts, Handwriting Fonts, Headline Fonts, Horror Fonts, Ice/Snow Fonts, Italic Fonts, LCD Fonts, Medieval Fonts, Mexican Fonts, Modern Fonts, Old English Fonts, Old School Fonts, Outline Fonts, Retro Fonts, Rock/Stone Fonts, Rounded Fonts, Russian Fonts, Sci Fi Fonts, Typewriter Fonts and Western Fonts.
UPDATE: Site is no longer up
A young Ray Larabie became interested in fonts in the early 70’s when his grandmother gave him sheets of Letraset. He became so familiar with typefaces that by the age of 17 he could identify hundreds of fonts by name.
No wonder by 1995 he launched a site on the world wide web giving away his fresh designs every week. A year later he changed the name of the site to Larabie Fonts. And with better font design software at his finger tips (or maybe that's mouse clicks) he became a prolific font making machine and was launching new typefaces at a phenomenal rate.
The design of the site isn't too busy, but it's easy to get lost from doing what you're there to do, which is download free fonts.
When you've found a font you like and you click on it you'll go to a page that's surrounded by Adsense ads. Top marks to the owners of the site for the ad blending (making the ads look like part of the content). So while an experienced Internet User will be able to navigate through the site with a minimum of fuss, I think a newb will be a little lost. Especially if they get the graphical ad that says "Get yours now! Click here".
Look for the "Click here to Download" and you'll be right.
You can pay a $12.00 fee through PayPal or any major credit card and download all fonts (10,870 font files). So long as you're prepared to download a 291 megabyte zip file (don't try that one on a dial-up kids). The charge is simply to cover the bandwidth costs. Not to mention the amount of time you'll save yourself.
Still though, it's a good site to have bookmarked if you're looking for something special or need to find something new and fresh.
Installing Fonts - On a Mac
Mac OS X : Put the font files (.ttf, .otf) into /Library/Fonts
Installing Fonts - On a PC
Unzip the files you have downloaded, then :Windows Vista : Right-click on the font files (.ttf, .otf, .fon) > Install
Windows XP : Put the font files (.ttf, .otf, .fon) into C:\Windows\Fonts
To install a font under Linux, copy the font files (.ttf or .otf) to fonts:/// in the File manager.
A quick video tutorial on installing new fonts on Windows XP
A quick video tutorial on installing new fonts on the Mac
Wise Words Of Wisdom
Typography exists to honor content. - Robert Bringhurst
Subtlety matters. A font is a tool, not an amusement park ride. - Seth Godin
You cannot understand typography and typefaces without knowledge and you can’t keep that knowledge for only yourself. Type design is a cultural act, not just a few lines of data in the corner of a hard disk. - Jean-François Porchez
Font Collecting Tips
It's a good idea not to install too many fonts. Windows is supposed to be able to manage about 1000 fonts. But avoid to install too many fonts at one time because that slows down the system.
Every time Adobe Photoshop boots up, or you're using a word processor, the program needs to check how many fonts you have available. And the more you've got, the longer it takes.
This is because they have to load to memory all installed fonts to be able to run. So it is better to put fonts you use regularly in the Fonts folder. Keep a folder of all your favorite fonts. Install/uninstall them as needed. Categorize them for quicker access.
Keep a back-up of your favorite fonts on a CD, or a DVD if you're a bit of a horder (I keep mine on an external hard disk drive). That way when you upgrade to a new computer or if you need to use another one you have the entire collection ready to go.
You can view a font to show what it looks like just by double-clicking on it, which is handy, though it doesn't have the full impact of seeing the text you want used being formatted with the font. But when it's open like that you can can use them even though its not installed. Just open up your wordprocessor (such as Microsoft Word) or paint program (such as Adobe Photoshop) and those fonts which are opened yet not installed will be available in your font list. But you need to open the program after you've double-clicked the font file.
If you're making a webpage with a HTML editor or using a site similar to HubPages that allows the user to use basic HTML to format the fonts you should be mindful that not all the fonts at your disposal are viewable on the world wide web.
The reason being is that while you can see them on your computer, others may not have the benefit of having the same font installed on their system.
There is a standard set of fonts common to all versions of Windows and Mac which is sometimes referred to as "browser safe fonts".
These will work 99% of the time:
- Courier New
- Times New Roman
- Trebuchet MS
- Lucida Sans
Other Font Related Links...
Thomas Phinney job description at Adobe is "Product Manager for Fonts & Global Typography". Imagine getting paid to do that as a job! On top of that he keeps a blog on the technical, business, historical and design aspects of type.
- The Ampersand
One of the first examples of an ampersand appears 45 AD on a piece of papyrus. The symbol & is derived from the Latin word of "et" which means "and". Read this to find out more about the history and evolution of the & symbol.
- Readability Vs Legibility
Typographic clarity comes in two flavors: legibility and readability. What’s the difference? Find out here.
These faces are based on hand lettering, mimicking the thick and thin transitions of someone writing with a quill pen. The pen is slanted, so the thin bits, like those at the top and bottom of an 'O', are diagonal. The thin parts of the letter, being diagonal, means that the letters have 'diagonal stress'. Due to the angle of the 'pen', the serifs (the tiny strokes at the end of each stroke of the letter) are also diagonal. Serifs are thought to be a hangover from stonemasonry, where the mason drove the chisel into the end of a stem on a 'T' to give it a straight end. Examples of oldstyle fonts are Times, Paintino, Cioudy and Garamond.
When the printing process became more mechanical, type become more mechanised too, so modern faces have a more rigid and less hand-drawn look. There is no slant to the 'pen' as it were, the serifs are straight and the stress is vertical, with the thin bits of the letter being firmly centred. Examples of modern are Bodoni, Walbaum and Fenice.
These forms have a lot less thick/thin transitions, so this is more the kind of lettering you would do with a magic marker than with a quill. Slab serif faces have vertical stress, like the moderns, but the serifs are much thicker and 'slabbier'. The ideal example of this is Clarendon, but also see New Century Schoolbook and Memphis. (This is also a hit of n 70s look, I must say.)
As the name suggests, these are without serifs. They are also 'mono-weight', meaning they have little or no thick and thin transitions at all. The lines are of constant thickness, except in certain faces like Optima and Antique Olive (sometimes called Eras, I think). There is no stress in any direction, as the lines have pretty much the same thickness all round. Gill Sans (me old mate), Franklin Gothic, Folio and Syntax are all good examples of sans serif faces.
Some font types haven't strayed far from the hand-drawn look; in fact, fonts like Script have gone completely the other way to look more hand-drawn. Certain script fonts may join up or look like handwriting that a normal person would do, and others look like something a trained calligrapher would turn out. Linoscript and Zapf Chancery are good examples of script fonts.
Margaret Schindel from Massachusetts on October 15, 2014:
Hi Darkside, thanks for another incredibly useful hub! I knew about a couple of these free font sources but not about others. Bookmarked and voted up!
Jessica on May 11, 2012:
Hi there, very nice hub. I hope you don't mind but just wanted to recommend another very good resource for unique stylised fonts.. http://www.tattoowoo.com/fonts
lovesight on April 04, 2012:
albatros333 from San Diego on April 03, 2012:
@Darkside, Thanks for sharing this hub, these are all great websites to download fonts. But (with a bit of bias) I would like to also recommend http://greekhouseoffonts.com/ for stylized fonts of the Greek alphabet.
I've also put together a hub with a short list of useful and practical information on Greek fonts and alphabet. https://discover.hubpages.com/art/greek-fonts777
TTC12 on October 12, 2011:
Thanks for the list! I use dafont.com frequently.
Glen (author) from Australia on December 21, 2010:
First you need to install the fonts on your system. There is a Fonts folder on your computer. If you go to Control Panel you'll find it. Just drop the fonts in there.
Once they're in there they should be readily available form within PowerPoint.
Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on December 21, 2010:
As always, you provide a new realm of information.
I just downloaded new fonts from urbanfonts. How do I incorporate into PowerPoint?
Glen (author) from Australia on September 29, 2010:
Hi there Lorlie. I had ticked the "Display most recent comments first " box in the Comment Capsule when it was in edit mode. I had a whole bunch of hubs like this about a year after I had joined, but it was a little confusing for people so I changed them back. Not all of them apparently! :)
Websafe means that most (presumably 'all') computers have that particular font installed on their system. So you know that others will see exactly as you see it. This is with regards to creating your own websites using HTML or an HTML editor (such as Dreamweaver).
You could always use other fonts on your own system, and other people 'might' have it if it's fairly popular or common. But if it's a fancy font that you've just downloaded from a site then the chances are extremely small.
If a person REALLY wants to use a font that not many other people have, they're better off using it in a graphic, and then saving it as an image. And using the image. The image is then based on pixels, not on the availability of a font. So you could even delete the font, you'll still have an image of it.
If you check out my hub https://hubpages.com/health/vitaminsFAQ you'll see I've used graphics instead of titles for some of the capsules. The same would apply to it being a normal webpage. I would have seen it had I used it as a font, but instead I made a graphic that I inserted into the page to do pretty much the same thing.
Laurel Rogers from Bishop, Ca on September 29, 2010:
Hi Darkside-this is kind of strange-I wrote a comment yesterday and it appears at the top of this hub! Anyway, I really enjoyed this hub and would love to know the meaning of 'safe.'
Laurel Rogers from Bishop, Ca on September 28, 2010:
I see I'm quite late reading this hub, darkside, but better late than never, as they say! When you mention 'websafe fonts' am I to understand that 'safe' refers only to the fact that some will not actually be able to see the change in lettering?
As you can probably tell, I am very new to the computer world-thanks so much.
Tony McGregor from South Africa on March 05, 2010:
Very useful information about fonts and some extra info to make it all more meaningful. Thanks a lot for this one.
Love and peace
Glen (author) from Australia on March 05, 2010:
agvulpes, glad to be of help.
Comments can be set up to display in reverse order. I thought I had changed all of them back, but I must have missed this one.
Peter from Australia on March 04, 2010:
Great info I've been looking for some fonts so I will bookmark this Hub Thank a lot:-)
btw Darkside I notice that you comments list with the newest on top, is that a secret trick ?
KellyEngaldo on January 24, 2010:
Another excellent hub! Congratulations! Just what I was looking for. Monday I must start designing a tri-fold brochure - this is bookmarked and I will return for more information. Excellent!
Leptirela from I don't know half the time on August 29, 2009:
thank you (:
Kheng on April 08, 2008:
Thanks for the great information. Didn't know that there are so many free fonts available on the net.
Abhinaya on January 08, 2008:
Just what wanted to know.My seven year old is better at new fonts everytime he finds them.But he doesn't have the patience to teach me.Thanks for the info.
Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on January 07, 2008:
Thanks for all the great information.
Veronica from NY on January 06, 2008:
I never change my avatar. It's my signature.
Mark Knowles on January 06, 2008:
"you guys never change your avatar pics.. what ever happened to variety?"
Most of us change them - Just not every five minutes.
Jerrico Usher from Bend, Oregon on January 06, 2008:
you guys never change your avatar pics.. what ever happened to variety?
Ashok Rajagopalan from Chennai on January 05, 2008:
Larabie! I'm always grateful to him for giving me lots of much needed fonts.
Thanks for the other links; will check them out.
Tony Sky from London UK on January 03, 2008:
Great hub Darkside~:)
Glen (author) from Australia on January 02, 2008:
I first need to find a hot babe avatar!
Mark Knowles on January 02, 2008:
Love the video about mac installs. You really went to town on this one. Perhaps hot Indian chicks next time?
Veronica from NY on January 02, 2008:
Thanks for the informative HUB. I had only heard of 1001 before. I use a MAC, and I very much appreciated the MAC install video on here.