Top 5 websites you need to bookmark for FREE fonts

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Categories | Design, Designing

Did someone say free fonts?

Usually, I’m the first one to say that you get what you pay for, but not about fonts. Well, not anymore. The variety and quality of free fonts have improved dramatically in the past few years. In fact, some of the open license options available give premium selections a run for their money.

Now you’re probably wondering what this has to do with your family history. In fact, why am I talking about fonts to family history enthusiasts at all? Great questions. In fact, that’s one of the things I want to tell you. And equally important is where to find quality free online. 

Good design = readability and increases engagement

If you’re in the research stage of your family history, then you may think it doesn’t matter what fonts you use. I’m inclined to disagree because I know that design can be magical. It’s what makes one document easy to look at and another hard to read. It’s useful for either a story, worksheet, research notes or letters to relatives. 

Today, let’s focus on the storytelling aspect and see the difference fonts can make in your design. 

To demonstrate, let’s look at a snapshot created in Microsoft Word. The page on the left is using the default Microsoft font, Calibri. Next, we’ll see the same design using fonts selected to create emphasis and evoke emotion. The left example is easy-to-read and looks okay. In contrast, though the right example creates a more memorable impression. 

And I want your family history stories to leave a wonderful impression.

It’s the same for both pages (e.g. font size, text transformation, etc.); only the font family has changed. Makes quite the difference, no?

The best part is that you can do this with any document, whatever the purpose. So whether it’s a book or a letter, you can mix and match fonts to experiment until you find what looks best.

Five sources for free fonts

As with everything on the internet in our modern world, not all font libraries are equal. Or necessarily legal. It can be a bit of a rabbit hole that you don’t want to fall in. 

So to help you get creative with your projects, here are my top 5 websites for finding free fonts online.

Font Squirrel

Website: https://www.fontsquirrel.com/

If you’ve purchased any of my early templates, then you’ll already be familiar with this site. It’s the one I try to use for all font recommendations because it’s just that good.

source free fonts from Font Squirrel

What’s great

  • Tags and filters make it easy to browse the catalogue of fonts.
  • Take the font for a test drive in your browser to see if it’s right for your headline or sentence.
  • Easy-to-download – either one-click or a redirect to the creators’ website.
  • New fonts added regularly to the diverse catalogue of fonts.

What’s unique

  • Font Squirrel only includes fonts that allow use in both commercial projects. 
  • ‘Font Identifier’ software to help you find the typeface behind the headline you love.
  • Budget-friendly font deals that are ‘Almost Free’.
  • Swag – show them your support and get your own squirrel sticker.

What else you need to know

Not all listings will be for complete font families; some will be for only one weight (e.g. light, regular, bold, etc.). In these instances, a redirect will send you to the sales page on another site. In that case, scroll through the list of options to check what is available for free.

Google Fonts

Website: https://fonts.google.com/

It’s hard not to love Google as they provide so many quality resources for free. Nevertheless, when Google Fonts launched I wasn’t sure it was going to last. The font catalogue was small, and it felt like a long time between updates. Then boom, the selection started increasing, and now it’s a resource I recommend to clients.

source free fonts from Google Fonts

What’s great

  • Every item in the catalogue comes in versions for either the web or desktop.
  • An easy-to-search library with a large variety of font families.
  • Update the sample text with your own words directly in the browser window.
  • No redirections to download files from other sites, everything happens on Google Fonts.

What’s unique

  • Each font has an open license so you can use it in either a commercial or non-commercial project.
  • The library of fonts is also available in Google apps (e.g. Slides, Sheets and Docs). No download or installation required. All you have to do is open the app and make your selections from the menus inside.
  • Sky Fonts integration. Never heard of it? It’s a font manager to help you manage your downloads and ensure you have the most up-to-date version. It’s free to download and use.
  • Use ‘Popular Pairings’ in the Specimen window to find the perfect font partners.

What else you need to know

Need more help with Google Fonts pairings? Good news, someone else has already done the work for you. Head over to either FontPair or Typewolf for their suggestions.

Weekly Fonts

Website: https://www.weeklyfonts.com/

Font foundries often offer one or two selections from type families for free. It’s an opportunity to try before you buy. Of course, there is no obligation to buy at all. WeeklyFonts.com is a site that collates the free fonts from libraries such as 

into one easy-to-search list.

source free fonts from Weekly Fonts

What’s great

  • Regular updates as offers change, new selections added and others removed.
  • Easy-to-filter based on category, license required and the host font library.
  • Custom Text View adds your text to all previews at once for comparison.

What’s unique

  • Link to the Font Finder tool at WhatFontIs.com
  • The site catalogues only free fonts from a small list of font libraries.

What else you need to know

  • Fonts aren’t downloaded on WeeklyFonts.com. Clicking download redirects you to another site, with both premium and free fonts.  Can’t spot the freebie? Scroll through the list to find the freebies.
  • Free fonts may only be available for a limited time. You’ll be able to continue to use the files based on the license as at the time of download. New downloads may not be possible at the same price.
  • License types will vary depending on the creator and website. Review each agreement before you install any files to ensure it’s okay to use in your project.

Da Font

Website: https://www.dafont.com/

Da Font is a font sharing site with an extensive archive of free-to-downland type files. It is one of the best sources for fancy display, theme or dingbat fonts. 

source free fonts from Da Font

What’s great

  • Filter the listings by style, author, alphabetical order, recently uploaded or popular downloads.
  • One-click will automatically download a zip file of your selection.
  • Use the Custom Preview to test your font choice with your text.

What’s unique

It’s a community as much as a font sharing site, with an active forum for font identification. 

What else you need to know

Font licenses vary from demo versions to commercial use. The license information above the download button (e.g. personal use) may not be accurate. Therefore always check any README or License agreements included with the download. 

Font Space

Website: https://www.fontspace.com/

According to their homepage “FontSpace is the internet’s largest collection of legitimately licensed free fonts”. They claim to have over 60,000 free fonts, so you’re sure to find what exactly what you need.

source free fonts from Font Space

What’s great

  • Filters and tag make browsing a breeze. Browse by style or see what’s trending in popular and new. 
  • Licensing, custom text preview and download options are all together on the font 

What’s unique

  • The ‘random’ filter is fun if you aren’t sure what you need and want a selection of different styles.
  • Sign up for a free account to rate and comment on various fonts.

What else you need to know

Licenses on the site vary greatly from donation to free for commercial use. Always check the licensing agreement before you install the font.

Install your new free fonts

Before you can use the font, you’ll need to install them. The process ‘how to’ depends on which operating system you use, as well as the version you have. Font Spring has fabulous instructions to cover all the different options on their website. Pick your operating system below to learn more:

Always read the license agreement for free fonts

I’ve only listed sites that I know, trust and use in my work.  Most of them are sites that I’ve been using for some time. Keeping this in mind, I still read the license agreement for every download. Every. Single. Time. 

You’ll usually find the terms of use are on the site and also in the download folder. Nothing there? Send a message to them as well as check their website or blog. If you can’t get a copy of the agreement, then delete that font and move onto the next one.

In Summary

Overall, you can make experimenting with different fonts an inexpensive exercise. Of course, it’s a time investment but one that can increase the readability of your documents.

We’ve covered

  • the magic that can happen when you switch up the type
  • where to source free fonts on the internet
    (After all, not all websites are equal and that’s especially true when it comes to free stuff. )
  • instructions on installing font files
  • the importance of reading the license agreement

QUICK QUESTION FOR YOU
Will you use custom fonts for your next family history project or stick with the default options in your software of choice?

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