The right typeface can make or break your website. As designers, we will always be naturally drawn towards the premium fonts such as Circular, DIN, or Maison Neue; Before you know it, your website is racking up a font bill larger than your hosting bill.
We’ve put together a list of open-source fonts that will rival your fancy fonts, and might even persuade you to switch them out. All the fonts listed here are completely open-source, which means they’re free to use on both personal and commercial projects.
Manrope has sprung onto the font circuit in style, with a website better than most early startups. It’s a variable font, which means you have a flexible range of font weights to choose from in a single font file. Manrope is a personal favorite of mine, it has every ligature you could want, and is fully multi-lingual. It’s a lovely bit of everything as it states on the website: it is semi-condensed, semi-rounded, semi-geometric, semi-din, semi-grotesque.
DIN – the font we all love, the font that looks great at every size, and the font that costs quite a bit, especially with a large amount of traffic. Gidole is here to save the day, it’s an open-source version of our favorite – DIN. It’s extremely close to DIN, but designers with a keen eye will spot very few minor differences. Overall, if you’re looking to use DIN, try Gidole out before going live. (There is also a very passionate community around the font on Github)
Inter is now extremely popular, but we wanted to include it as it’s become a staple in the open-source font world — excellent releases, constant updates, and great communication. If you’re looking for something a bit fancier than Helvetica and something more stable than San Francisco, then Inter is a great choice. The font has now even landed on Google Fonts, making it even easier to install. As of today: 2500+ Glyphs, Multilingual, 18 Styles, and 33 Features… do we need to say more?
Overpass was created by Delvefonts and sponsored by Redhat, it was designed to be an alternative to the popular fonts Interstate and Highway Gothic. It’s recently cropped up on large ecommerce sites and is growing in popularity due to its large style set and ligature library. Did we mention it also has a monospace version? Overpass is available via Google Fonts, KeyCDN, and Font Library.
Public Sans is a project of the United States Government, it’s used widely on their own department websites and is part of their design system. The font is based on the popular open-source font Libre Franklin. Public Sans has great qualities such as multilingual support, a wide range of weights, and tabular figures. The font is also available in variable format but this is currently in the experimental phase of development.
Space Grotesk isn’t widely known yet, but this quirky font should be at the forefront of your mind if you’re looking for something “less boring” than good old Helvetica. Space Grotesk has all the goodies you can expect from a commercial font such as multiple stylistic sets, tabular figures, accented characters, and multilingual support.
Alice is a quirky serif font usually described as eclectic and quaint, old-fashioned — perfect if you’re looking to build a website that needs a bit of sophistication. Unfortunately, it only has one weight, but it is available on Google Fonts.
Urbanist is an open-source variable, geometric sans serif inspired by Modernist typography. Designed from elementary shapes, Urbanist carries intentional neutrality that grants its versatility across a variety of print and digital mediums. If you’re looking to replace the premium Sofia font, then Urbanist is your best bet.
Evolventa is a Cyrillic extension of the open-source URW Gothic L font family. It has a familiar geometric sans-serif design and includes four faces. Evolventa is a small font family, generally used across the web for headlines and bold titles.
Fira Sans is a huge open source project, brought to you, and opened sourced by the same team that makes Firefox. It’s Firefox’s default browser font and the font they use on their website. The font is optimized for legibility on screens. (And it’s on Google Fonts!)
Building a development website, or need a great code font to style those pesky code-blocks? Then Hack is the font for you. Super lightweight and numerous symbols and ligatures. The whole font was designed for source code and even has a handy Windows installer.
IBM needs no introduction. Plex is IBM’s default website font and is widely used around the web in its numerous formats Mono, Sans, Serif, Sans-Serif, and Condensed – it has everything you’d need from a full font-family. The whole font family is multi-lingual, perfect for multi-national website designs. (It’s fully open-source!)
Another great coding font, Monoid is a favorite of mine for anything code. The clever thing about Monoid is that it has font-awesome built into it, which they call Monoisome. This means when writing code, you can pop a few icons in there easily. Monoid looks just as great when you’re after highly readable website body text.
Object Sans (formally known as Objectivity) is a beautiful geometric font family that can be used in place of quite a few premium fonts out there. The font brings together the top qualities of both Swiss neo-grotesks and geometric fonts. The font works beautifully as large headings but can be used for body content as well.
Lunchtype has a very interesting back-story, originally designed during the creator’s daily lunchtime during a 100-day project. If you’re looking for something a bit “jazzier” than the typical Helvetica for your project, then Lunchtype is a perfect choice. The family comes with numerous weights as well as a condensed version — enough to fill any lunchbox.
Inspired by the early 1920’s German sans-serif’s, Jost is a firm favorite in the open-source font world. Jost brings a twist to its closest web designer favorite Futura. When you want a change from the typical Futura, then Jost is a great option with its variable weighting as well as multilingual support.
Work Sans is a beautiful grotesk sans with numerous little eccentricities that may delight or annoy some designers. The font has variable weighting, multilingual support and is optimized for on-screen text use but works perfectly well for print also.
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Author: Jonathan Kelley