Fonts can help turn your web site from good to great, but it’s important for designers and business owners to understand the usage restrictions on them. Typeface copyright issues require serious attention, and ignorance of the rules governing the use of certain fonts is no excuse for violating them. You cannot use any font you want free of charge if it is copyrighted.

There’s a difference between typeface and fonts. The usage rights for commercial fonts, or computer file that instructs your printer how to display a certain character, are outlined in the End User License Agreement including in the purchase license. But typeface is generally not protected under copyright law.

Unless you have a law degree, the whole thing can be a little confusing. Many sites like to play it safe by using free commercial use fonts from reputable sites around the web. If this is the route your company chooses to take, here are several great places to find them.

Jump to: Font Squirrel | Google Fonts | Hype for Type | DaFont | 1001 Fonts | Urban Fonts | FontSpace | Front Freak | Font Library | Creative Fabrica | Font Meme | FontShop | Behance | Font Bundles | Pixel Surplus

1. Font Squirrel

7 Places to Find Free Commercial Use Fonts: Font Squirrel

With a wide range of fonts ranging from sans serif to calligraphic, Font Squirrel allows browsers to filter fonts through a number of options, including those best used for e-books, applications and desktop. It also groups them by formats such as retro, contemporary, distressed, all caps and more. In total Font Squirrel offers more than 264 unique fonts.
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2. Google Fonts

7 Places to Find Free Commercial Use Fonts: Google Fonts

Why is it not surprising that the world’s biggest search engine is a great place to find free fonts? Google Fonts includes a very wide selection, more than 600 open-source fonts. The site does recommend double-checking that they remain free before using them commercially. Each font links to the Google+ user profile of the creator, if available. This may be the most universally useful free font source, because it can be searched through a number of filters including thickness, width, slant, script style and serif.
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3. Hype for Type

7 Places to Find Free Commercial Use Fonts: Hype for Type

Yes, Hype for Type is primarily a paid commercial font site, but it also has a sizable selection of free fonts that are worth checking out. With nearly 100 choices, there’s something for everyone, no matter what type of document or site you’re building. It also has a fun feature that allows you to play around with the font you’ve selected, seeing how it looks using certain sentences or changing the color or increasing the size.
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4. DaFont

7 Places to Find Free Commercial Use Fonts: DaFont

DaFont doesn’t just allow you to search through fonts by name. It also categorizes them by style, which is unique among the free font sites highlighted here. Say, for instance, you’re designing a logo; click on the “logos” tab to see fonts that might fit the bill. The site is very useful for someone who does design work for a wide range of clients, because the selection is so diverse and it’s grouped so uniquely. DaFont offers 23,547 fonts, including more than 6,000 with accents and nearly 7,000 with the Euro symbol.
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5. 1001 Fonts

7 Places to Find Free Commercial Use Fonts: 1001 Fonts

Practically ancient by web standards, 1001 Fonts has been online since 1998, and it allows you either to browse the fonts based on whatever characteristics you desire or to search for a specific font you’d like to find. It works with Windows or Mac OS, and despite its name, it offers more than 6,000 fonts for free download.
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6. Urban Fonts

7 Places to Find Free Commercial Use Fonts: Urban Fonts

For those who want to make sure the fonts they find are not just free but also cool, check out Urban Fonts. The fonts are searchable by specific names as well as tags, such as college, cursive, comic, 3D and curly. There are more than 8,000 free fonts available, as well as a handful of premium ones.
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7. FontSpace

FontSpace offers a number of commercial fonts and about half of them are free. Although FontSpace outlines their terms for using material from their website, each font has a separate creator as well as separate licensing requirements. If you need additional information on licensing, contact each individual owner of the font or look to see if licensing info is provided. This site features fonts that work well on book covers and posters.
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8. FontFreak

FontFreak has one of the largest collections of fonts online with more than 9,000 different free fonts and 125,000 additional commercial fonts for purchase. There are 400 designers featured on the site, so any style you need is found on FontFreak. You’ll find calligraphy, graffiti and even cursive fonts. If you have a big design project and aren’t yet sure of the tone or style, this is a great place to shop for a free commercial-use font.
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9. Font Library

Font Library is another open-source type project with a lot of free fonts for both personal and commercial use. Under their Guidebook, Font Library lays out the types of licenses they support. They state that they support the free use of fonts for any reason, including commercial use, and they list some of the free license agreements they support, such as Aladdin Free Public License, Freeware and GNU General Public License. There are numerous fonts on this site that are suitable for use in website design.
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10. Creative Fabrica

Creative Fabrica offers some unique fonts, which come with a free premium license that includes commercial usage. The free fonts rotate, so it’s best to grab one when you see it because it might not be available as a freebie for long. The free fonts include handwritten, script, sans serif and serif fonts. You’ll find both modern and vintage font styles here.
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11. Font Meme

Font Meme lays out clearly what rights come with each free font listed. Some have a GNU public domain license, while others are only free for personal or commercial use. If you look over to the right, you’ll see a tab that reads “free for commercial use” — click on that tab and get results only for the fonts you can use commercially without a fee. You can also search by sans, serif, script, decorative, dingbats and 3D — along with many other categories.
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12. FontShop

FontShop is a website managed by Monotype GmbH. What is so interesting about this site is the ability to search through all the fonts offered and then filter them down by features, such as $0 costs and if the font includes commercial rights. You can also search the entire site for “free font” and then filter down by licenses, formats and even language. If you’re just curious about what’s available, it offers a “discover fonts” page where you can see what the latest releases are and learn more about featured type designers.
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13. Behance

Even though you’ve likely heard of Behance as a place to show off your designs and get a bit of inspiration, you might not have thought about using it to track down free-for-commercial-use fonts. However, it is an excellent place to locate truly unique typography. Take a look at the gallery linked above, where designers came together to offer 20 fonts, all free for commercial use.

Designers introduce you to their work through the free sampler and get their designs out there, and you benefit from beautiful and unique free fonts. Once you’ve downloaded the 20 free fonts, go up to Behance’s search feature and type in “free fonts.” You’ll find additional selections, many free for commercial use, but be sure to read licensing requirements.
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14. Font Bundles

Font Bundles offers premium free fonts on its website, including for commercial use. Each week, the site offers a new free font. You do have to sign up for an account to gain access to the free fonts, but it’s free to do so. It also offers a premium membership if you want access to even more free products — although not free if you’re paying a monthly fee to access. Still, the cost is minimal, and it also provides access to symbols and designs.
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15. Pixel Surplus

Pixel Surplus offers some unique fonts and lists whether or not they are free for commercial use. Many of the fonts are basic but work fine for general usage. If you need expanded symbols and Latin characters, you may need to invest in a premium version of the font. However, this is a great way to gain free-for-commercial-use fonts and try them out before investing in something your client might not even like.

For example, the beautiful Big River Script handwritten font is free for both personal and commercial use, but it is a limited version of the font. The full product offers slant, three different weights and ligatures.

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Keep in mind that just because you can download a font without charge doesn’t mean you can use it any way you want. Be sure to read licensing agreements carefully and pay any fees needed to use the font commercially, such as on a book cover. Most font creators add additional restrictions, such as not allowing anyone to resell their fonts or add them to part of a package for sale.

These are only a few of the best free font sites available on the web. Which free commercial font sites do you like? Where have you had the most success finding free fonts? And what’s your favorite free commercial font? Share in the comments below!

 

This article was originally published on 3/06/2014 and updated on 1/31/2019.
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About the author

Lexie Lu

Hello! My name is Lexie and I have a fervor for design, writing, and coffee. I graduated with a dual major in Creative Writing and Commercial Design, and through those grueling study hours (facilitated by coffee, of course) I always found time to write for myself.

My posts feature design trends throughout all industries and show how the field is always changing. There’s never a dull moment in the design world!

4 Comments

  • Lost Type fonts are no olonger commercially available. They have gone to a (fairly pricey) commercial licensing fee scheme.

  • Thank you for all the useful information.

    I’m hoping you might be able to help me with a particular font I’m was able to find on dafont.com and urbanfonts, called, “Back to the Future 2002,” by Cyril Bourreau. The site doesn’t have a specific contact for this designer & I’ve left questions on the commercial use of this font & haven’t gotten any reply.

    Was hoping based on your knowledge of these sites, where I can get information if this font can be used for commercial use free of charge.

    • Hi Christine,

      I did a little searching and I wasn’t able to find contact information for Cyril Bourreau either. However, it looks like this font was created by tracing letters in the titular font to the Back to the Future series — due to that, it would be categorized like a fan work and I believe, unable to be sold or used commercially. However, I am not a lawyer, so more thorough research might come up with another answer.

      Sorry I could not provide a better answer to your question!

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