As an entrepreneur, I hear a lot of things said about good design: Good design is simple. Or it's all about white space. Others say good design is understated or that it's hard to describe.
As a designer, though, I can tell you that while all these things are important, the main difference between well-designed pieces and poorly designed ones is something else entirely: having really good fonts.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at what Squarespace’s website would look like using Impact instead of its fancy, premium font.
See the difference? Even with all the right spacing, simplicity and craft of the page design, the wrong font can leave the entire site looking amateurish.
Choosing the right fonts for a project is crucial. But when a premium font costs $60 to $200, it can be hard to justify the purchase. So what can you do?
Great fonts (like most excellent things on the Internet) are generally handcrafted by independent designers. Making a font takes an incredible amount of effort, which is usually reflected in the price tag. On rare occasions, though, kind and generous designers will give out a few fonts for free, as a way of advertising the rest of their collection. If you like any of the fonts below, please consider supporting their creators.
I’ve compiled the following list of 25 must-have free fonts for entrepreneurs, designers and anyone else looking to impress. Enjoy!
Langdon is a friendly, easy-to-read font that works well in headlines and combines nicely with cursive typefaces.
With strong characters and some creative shaping, fonts like Vincent are perfect for businesses seeking that serious yet approachable feeling.
Sharp angles and a selection of three weights make Rex a font that works brilliantly in logos and paragraph headings.
Infinity is a thin font with a friendly yet sophisticated feel. Understated fonts like these work brilliantly for startups in industries that involve consumer interaction, such as health and wellness companies.
Modern, bold fonts like Adam are easy to read and work well for website headings and navigation bars.
Nougatine is a unique, retro-inspired font that combines strong capital letters with some creative cut-out shapes.
If you've ever looked for retro fonts, you know that good ones are few and far between. Silverfake is the exception. Legibile but with an authentic retro feel, it combines nicely with modern, bolder fonts, such as Adam, above.
Code Pro is a designer's dream. It comes in lots of of weights (thin or heavy) and a variety of styles. The versatile font fits into just about any design, whether for the website of a tech startup or a restaurant menu.
Want to know a designer's secret? When aiming to create something that feels sophisticated, look for the thinnest font possible. Few are thinner than Raleway.
Raleway is a popular font that comes in a myriad of sizes, ranging from hairline thin to bold black, making it a mighty useful font for a variety of company branding functions.
Montserrat is the ultimate modern font: It pairs brilliantly with stick-thin fonts like Raleway and looks beautiful when laid over a high-resolution background image.
Droid is the ideal font for long blocks of text: It's easy to read and has just the right mixture of soft and hard serifs to give it a unique personality all of its own.
Looking for a classic font that's like Georgia or Garamond? Domine is the perfect alternative. It's bolder than the typical paragraph font, making it suitable for big, eye-catching headlines.
Illustration © Weathersbee Type
Franchise is a friendly, bold display font that looks great on the web, particularly in infographics.
If you're running a tech startup, you may have a hard time finding solid fonts to suit your purposes. Most tech fonts have a way of feeling too harsh for today's projects. Dosis breaks the mold. With softer, rounded corners, it is a great alternative to traditional tech fonts. And it works well in nontech projects, too.
Abel is a nice mix between a tech font and a modern display face. Although only one weight of font is available, Abel can be a good choice for headlines and paragraph text.
Odin Rounded is a Norse design-inspired retro font that works surprisingly well in tech-oriented projects.
Lintel's thin, strong features make it well-suited for high-end tech and fashion startups.
Try Hagin in your next retro-themed project. It can create bold headlines and its unique serifs set it apart from most classic fonts.
Weston simultaneously evokes a 1930s movie poster and a Wild West "most wanted" alert. Mix it with a cursive font or a thin, modern typeface.
Roboto Slab is the font with a million uses, for both headlines and paragraphs. Heck, it even looks good in off-line publications.
Aleo is one of the most versatile free fonts I've ever encountered. It comes in six styles, all available in italics, so designers will have an easy time finding the right match for just about any project.
If you want your startup to be taken seriously, try Lora. It has a classic vibe and is incredibly legible even in very small sizes.
Lato works hard for startups in pursuit of that friendly yet sophisticated aura. It pairs nicely with just about any serif font, such as Aleo and Lora.
Calendas is reminiscent of classic fonts like Garamond and Georgia but possesses a bit of a unique personality of its own.
Farrerons Serif Light
Farrerons Serif Light is an interesting typeface. For blocks of texts, it works as a reliable, legible font. In headings, it gives off a more creative vibe. Consider giving it a try in your next off-line print project.
Looking for more free, premium fonts? Check out Google's well-curated list of free fonts available via its Google Fonts project.