Money doesn’t rain from the heavens on every project you will work on, and some have no budget at all. This may cause you to forgo niceties like expensive typefaces. That doesn’t mean you can’t create quality typography, however.
I have recently been working on a fantastic project that requires font embedding, and the use of several free fonts. This has caused me to do some research on quality typefaces that are free alternatives to popular and expensive counter-parts, and that are embeddable to boot.
The issue in this specific project’s case is not the cost of the font, but rather licensing restrictions on embedding. One of the best qualities of a free font is it’s freedom to embed using @font-face, which I have found to be the most easy, free, and cross browser-compatible method.
I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised at what I have found, and felt compelled to share the results, in the hopes that your budget-restricted projects will now have elegant copy gracing it’s pages.
This isn’t ground-breaking stuff. I am sure you have seen most of these typefaces before. I simply wanted to share what I have been working with, with the hopes that they may work for you.
Of course there are negatives to free fonts: not all glyphs look quite right, sets are incomplete, and there are very few weights, but hey, you get what you pay for.
This shouldn’t slow you down too much though, as these fonts will usually work for buttons, navigation and headers, which is generally all I use detailed typefaces for. I tend to shy away from layouts that forgo a simple typeface for the body copy.
Font Squirrel is arguably the best resource for professional-quality, free fonts. Not only can you find great typefaces on their site, but they make embedding them quite easy by way of their @font-face Generator tool. When browsing their vast selection of fonts, there will be a “@font-face compatible” tag that is bolded in the header, letting you know if a particular font is licensed to embed.
On a side note, you can use their online @font-face generator tool to create stylesheets and embeddable files for other fonts you may have as well. Just make sure the license allows for it. From my experiences, most don’t.
Free font licenses vary greatly, but generally have a “commercial use” component. Not all fonts displayed below are restriction-free, and not all are embeddable, however they tend to be. Click on the sample images below to visit the font’s download page, and make sure you do your due diligence to adhere to the font’s license and respect the creator’s work.