Free Fonts

Organized according to DIN 16518 classification.

Gruppen I/II split in two the category usually treated in English as one category of ‘old-style serifs’. A rule of thumb to distinguish the two is whether the stroke of the lower-case e is slightly slanted (Venetian) or straight (French).

Gruppe I (Venetian Rennaissance Antiqua)

Coelacanth   latin greek cyrillic hebrew ipa roman italic bold opticalsizes

An extraordinarily ambitious revival of Bruce Rodgers’s Centaur, with many optical sizes, but still very much a work in progress and will likely take another few years to be usable. As of writing, the roman is okay, but the italic appears rather clumsy and needs a lot of work. The decision not to use Rodgers’s original companion italic is a very curious one: I’m very skeptical about it. The designer has made remarks that appear to show a misunderstanding of the relation between roman and italic fonts in classic serif families.

Goudy Bookletter 1911   latin roman

Gruppe II (French Rennaissance Antiqua)

Amstelvar   latin greek cyrillic roman italic bold opticalsizes otvariable

EB Garamond   latin greek cyrillic ipa roman italic bold opticalsizes

Unfortunately development seems to have totally stalled and the 8pt version is still very rough. But there is Octavio Pardo’s fork of the 12pt version with added bold weight, which is still maintained.

ET Book   latin roman italic bold

(Disclosure: I’m the major contributor to what will hopefully become version 2.0.)

Gentium (Plus, Book Plus)   latin greek cyrillic ipa roman italic bold opticalsizes

A superb typeface, many years in the making but newly completed with full support for two optical sizes (broadly, display and text). Gentium wears calligraphic influences on its sleeve, even in the upright/roman style, but nonetheless manages to be usable for extended texts. The interplay and harmony between the different scripts is superb, each script retaining its own character while fitting well with the whole. If I were printing a text with lots of switching between Latin, Greek, and/or Cyrillic script (for example, a Greek–English dictionary or a bilingual Greek/English text), I have no doubt I’d pick Gentium.

TODO Should this be in Gruppe VII or IX instead?

German Wikipedia considers it Gruppe II, but this seems to me to do a disservice to Gentium’s calligraphic influences.

Source Serif Pro   latin greek cyrillic ipa roman bold italic opticalsizes otvariable

Only really suitable for screen use.

Gruppe III (Baroque Antiqua)

Usually called ‘transitional serifs’ in English.

Gruppe IV (Classical Antiqua)

Usually called ‘modern serifs’ in English.

Bodoni*   latin roman italic bold opticalsizes otvariable

Gruppe V (Serif-accented Linear Antiqua)

Usually called ‘slab serif’ in English.

Besley*   latin roman italic bold otvariable

Gruppe VI (Serifless Linear Antiqua)

Usually called ‘sans-serif’ in English.

Commissioner   latin greek cyrillic roman bold italic otvariable

Jost*   latin roman italic bold otvariable

Manrope   latin greek cyrillic roman bold otvariable

x-height a bit too large for my comfort, but a very serviceable and interesting design. There is no italic/oblique, but this is apparently being worked on.

Source Sans Pro   latin greek cyrillic ipa roman bold italic otvariable

Work Sans   latin roman bold italic otvariable

Gruppe VII (Antiqua Variants)

Something of a miscellaneous category.

Gruppe VIII (Cursive Scripts)

Also called ‘script fonts’.

Gruppe IX (Handwriting Antiqua)

Gruppe X (Broken Scripts)

Ligafraktur.de has a large selection of free Fraktur fonts.

Gruppe XI (Foreign Scripts)

GFS Porson   greek

Porson is the classic typeface for classical Greek texts, though GFS’s revival is a bit sharp and could perhaps do with a light revision of the path corners. If I were typesetting a text entirely in Greek for print, I’d almost certainly choose Porson.