Fonts can make or break a design – there is no doubt about it. We have all been exposed to the usual fonts that come installed in common software, including Microsoft Word for written documents and PowerPoint for presentations. If you are looking for something more unique for your projects, including script and calligraphy fonts, fonts for your wedding invitations and menus, futuristic fonts for your logos, or typography sets that include number fonts, keep reading and discover what we found for you, courtesy of the Shutterstock blog. We also provide a bit of history behind font families, so you may also learn a thing or two!
Finding, downloading, installing, and using fonts is a very easy process (you can learn how to install fonts for Mac here and how to do it for Windows here – and also learn more about the main font file formats here). There are several websites where you can download fonts for your projects. Some fonts cost and some are free, and as with other creative materials, such as images, video and audio, fonts also have a copyright. To spare us the hassle of browsing through hundreds of fonts until we find the right one, the Shutterstock blog has compiled 101 free fonts, which come organized under font type and include a link for you to download them directly from their source. Access the original article from the Shutterstock blog with link to all the compiled here!
The fonts presented in this compilation are organized under the following categories:
This type of font is named after the “small line or stroke regularly attached to the end of a larger stroke in a letter or symbol” in such typefaces. There is no clear consensus regarding the origin of these typefaces, but the main theories stem from the process in which, in the antiquity, Greeks and Romans traced and then carved letters into stone.
Example of serif on ancient Roman stone carvings
Whichever theory may be true, serifs have been a mainstay in written alphabets (even in non-western ones!) for millennia. The fonts compiled in the downloads offer you over a dozen Serif fonts for your projects (The Shutterstock blog has also previously compiled a vast list of free Serif fonts in this article.) Why chose a serif font? Not only they look solemn and elegant, but they also make texts easier to read. Being a classic, they don’t go out of style either. There are sub-classifications of Serif fonts too, meaning that some look more traditional, and others more modern. Here are some of our favorites from this pack:
Does this font not remind you of the Merriam-Webster dictionary font? The title may not be a coincidence after all. This is a dignified font that can be used to give your designs an authority, yet approachable look. It was designed by Sorkin Type Co and offers several variations like Regular, Bold, and Italic. Best of all, the license offers free personal and commercial use!
Merriweather Font by Sorkin Type Co.
Download it from Google Fonts or from 1001fonts.
If you want something more unique, “The Circus” font by 24Design Studios will give your project a playful yet nostalgic vibe. It comes in two versions: regular and striped, showing a stripe in the middle of the type font that gives it extra volume and a poster-like quality. While we would not recommend this font for long texts, it will be beautiful for logos, titles, labels, and posters.
The Circus Font
Download it from PixelBuddha.
Blacker is a font that manages to be both elegant and playful. Again, we would not recommend this font for actual text, but it would look highly classy for a personal monogram, a logo, or on menus and invitations. It is free for personal use, but if this is THE font you want for your commercial projects, it can’t hurt to get in touch with Zetafonts, the creator, and asking if you can buy the commercial license.
Download it from DaFont.
Sans Serif Fonts
If you read the explanation of what a Serif Font is above, you may assume that “Sans Serif” simply means “without serif” (the “stroke” attached to the end of letters and symbols in Serif typefaces). And you would be right! Sans Serif is a considerably modern font type. While it was invented in the 1830’s, it reached its peak of popularity between the 1920’s and 1970’s. Creations of this time include Futura and Helvetica – these are standard fonts by now, so you have for sure seen them installed on your computer and honestly, on some of the best-known corporate logos. Its widespread use has not stayed within companies in the technology, medical, and aerospace industries. In the past few years, virtually all luxury apparel logos have been redesign with nearly-identical sans-serif fonts.
Luxury logos have been redesigned with Sans Serif fonts in the past years
While this may make a few Sans Serif fonts feel corporate and soulless, here are a few of our favorite Sans Serif fonts with a lot of character:
Ignite offers the modernity of Sans Serif fonts while keeping personality and an edge to it. You can download it for free for personal use, and under the same page, you also have the option to purchase its commercial license. We think it would look fantastic on a can of craft beer or on the menu of an indie restaurant!
Download it from Dribbble.com
Watkins is a true find. It is an elongated, crisp, and versatile font. This set comes with two versions: “clean” and “textured”. The clean version is elegant and attention-grabbing (a great alternative to the tired “Bebas Neue” in our opinion). The textured version offers a total different effect, which we think would look great on packaging (picture it on the label of a craft gin bottle!). Downloading this font is a bit trickier. PixelSurplus, where it available, is a transactional website. While you can purchase a commercial license, you will notice that the “Personal license” is costs $0.00. You need to create an account to download it, but it’s worth it in our opinion.
Watkins is a highly versatile font. Here you can see how with a simple textured effect, it becomes rugged and vintage-looking.
Get it from PixelSurplus.
This font represents all that is good with Sans Serif type faces: it is modern, easy to read, and non-polarizing. Nobody will ever say that Montserrat is an eyesore or that it makes texts difficult to read. We recommend it for print or web material, especially for text that has to be easily understood. It could be a perfectly signature font for a blog’s texts, for example. The download includes the entire “font family”, which means you are getting all variations: italics, thin, bold, semi-bold, extra-bold, etc. It is offered under the “Open Font” license, which means you can download it for free and use it in personal and professional projects.
Even against a pale color, with low contrast, and with heavy text, Montserrat proves simple and easy to read.
Download it form Google Fonts.
Script and Wedding Fonts (including Number Fonts)
Script fonts are designed to resemble cursive handwriting and calligraphy (which is sadly a dying art). Nothing expresses elegance, thoughtfulness, and one-of-a-kind-ness like a handwritten font, and Script fonts can help you achieve this in your projects. We don’t recommend it for long texts – however script fonts work beautifully for logos, menus, and other projects where you need a burst of sophistication. It is fair to state that script fonts and weddings go hand-in-hand. Sadly not a lot of people can write with beautiful calligraphy nowadays (and hand-written invitations are costlier than printed ones!). On the upside, fonts can help you achieve this effect in seconds!
You can hire someone to hand-write each of your wedding invitations – but it will not come cheap!
Here are our picks from this compilation:
This beautiful font looks exactly like handwritten calligraphy. You cannot go wrong printing your guests’ names, the menus, table cars, and thank-you notes in this font. It has a personal use license – which means you can use it on all your wedding materials (however, you could not sell wedding materials using it without purchasing the commercial license).
Millerstone is a quintessential wedding font.
Download it from DaFont.
Domillion Brush is a brush font, which means it emulates brush calligraphy. You can see the simulated strokes, down to ink/paint texture. In our opinion, this would be amazing for larger print materials for your wedding, such as the drinks menu or photobooth. Once more, it’s free for personal use, and your wedding absolutely counts as personal use. You can also get the full font type and commercial license for a fee.
Domillion brush has intricate brush-like details
Download it on DaFont.
Modern and Futuristic Fonts
Modern and futuristic fonts were part of the movement ignited by Sans Serif. The optimization of production and simplification of industrial processes inspired simple, practical, and no-frills trends in fonts and graphic design. The art movements of modernism and futurism focused on representing movement and workers. Fonts lost most ornate qualities, yet they found ways in which they could still appear dynamic and, well, futuristic. Don’t forget that this ideals of “modernity” and “futurism” reflect what the collective imagination perceived several decades ago, so you won’t be finding much of alien and rocketship fonts here. However, there is still a bit of sci-fi present in a few of these.
This poster from 1927’s Metropolis perfectly captures Modernism and Futurism – and it is almost 100 years old!
Here are our top picks in these categories:
Voyager is a retro-futuristic font. This means that it does not feel like our current version of the future, but that of the past. It is funny how it conveys more than one type of nostalgia: we can totally see this font evoking steampunk and Jules Verne vibes, but also 80’s graphic design (the image below perfectly captures the look and feel of 80’s VHS design!). The personal use license is free – and you can also pay for the commercial license.
If this does not make you feel nostalgic for the 80’s, we don’t know what will
Download it from PixelSurplus.
Sleek, minimalist, and elegant are almost synonymous with futurism and modernism. This is what Particle does as a font. It’s slim frame will give a clean, modern edge to your projects. Their creators state: “This font was created to seamlessly pair with other fonts but is also striking enough to stand alone“, and we agree. We think it’d look fantastic in high contrast layouts, or paired with space, particle, and galaxy backgrounds. Another great thing about it? It is free for both personal AND commercial use!
Particle is sleek and minimalistic – that’s what makes it look clean and modern
Download it from Behance.
Christmas is a season that treats all senses. Jingle bells and carols treat your ears. Mulled wine and gingerbread treat our smell and taste. It would be impossible to list all the visual elements associated with the holidays that delight our eyes during this season – but fonts are also part of it. It is hard to tell what makes fonts Christmas-y, in the same way that it’s hard to tell what exactly makes Christmas music immediately sound like Christmas (is it the jingle bells?). These fonts are very welcome for all of our Christmas projects: cards, marketing material, toy lists for children to fill out and send to Santa… imagination is the only limit here! Shutterstock had previously compiled Christmas fonts in a separate post. Find it here if you want even more holiday fonts!
Here are our top holiday fonts:
This is a very whimsical holiday font. If you want to take a break from formality and give your Christmas project a playful feel, this font is for you. You can use it for Christmas cards and decorations. We have created our own “naughty” and “nice” list here below, and think that it looks just as written by Santa. And as if it were a Christmas gift itself, the license is free for both personal and professional use!
We used Bigelow Rules to create our own naughty and nice list…do you recognize anyone from our team?
Download it from Google Fonts.
Sentinel is another quirky holiday font. It evokes a fairytale-like vibe, perhaps the font used in signage in Santa’s north pole village? We don’t recommend it for text-heavy projects, but it’d be great for logos, headers, and greeting cards. It is offered for free for both personal and commercial use – another Christmas miracle!
Sentinel looks like the official font of the north pole!
Download it from 1001fonts.
That’s it – download and enjoy these free fonts on your personal and professional projects (don’t forget to make sure the free fonts offer a commercial license if you want to use them that way). As always, we offer you a pro-tip: download all fonts into a folder of which you keep a backup. You will create a curated and personalized unique font bank, which you will then be able to re-install across devices or to a new computer if needed! And thanks once more to the Shutterstock Blog for this compilation.
While you’re here, why not take a look at our free downloads section and discover our compilations of creative freebies and downloads?