We look to web design and marketing specialists to clue us into major trends are to come. Retro typefaces. Chunky, bold lettering. Variable fonts. There’s always something new going on with typography.
Regardless of the typography trends floating around, there’s one thing for certain: Web designers need a set of fonts they can rely on year after year, website after website.
Thankfully, we don’t have to settle for traditional fonts like Arial and Times New Roman in order to provide a user-friendly interface. While keeping in mind key web typography rules, there are some incredible typefaces that are sophisticated, creative, and unique, without sacrificing reading quality.
We’ve compiled a list of the 20 best fonts for websites. You’ll find a mix of free and paid fonts here, along with some of the best web-safe fonts for an optimum user experience. We'll also take a look at what web-safe fonts are and why it’s an important factor to take into account when choosing the right fonts for your web design.
20 best fonts for websites
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What are web-safe fonts?
When choosing a font for your website, the goal is generally to use fonts that are:
There’s another trait you should be mindful of and that’s cross-browser compatibility.
As the number of devices and browsers consumers use to access the web grows, we’re at risk of presenting an inconsistent or incomplete “face” to website visitors. That’s because when a font isn’t pre-installed on a browser or operating system, visitors are likely to be shown a backup or default font.
However, web-safe fonts are (usually) universally accepted. As such, the majority of your visitors will see the fonts you intended them to, ensuring that your web design looks as planned across various browsers and devices.
While web-safe font options usually include the likes of Courier, Helvetica, and Georgia, there are more exciting and adventurous ones to work with. You’ll find some of them here among the best fonts for websites.
The 20 best fonts for websites (free and paid)
Type of font: Serif
Foundry or designer: Veronika Burian and José Scaglione of TypeTogether
Background: Abril Fatface is a free font that’s part of a much larger, premium font family called Abril.
The font family as a whole was a reimagining of classic newsface for modern-day readers. This particular font, however, is a standout from its family members because of its heavier (“fat”) characters. That’s because Abril Fontface was inspired by the title text used on advertising posters in the 1800s.
When you should use it: If you’re looking for a way to add a bolder touch to a news site, digital magazine, or blog, this would be a clean but strong font choice for your headers.
Type of font: Extended sans serif
Free/premium: Premium Foundry or designer: Kenneth Knutsen for Good Type Foundry
Background: Adieu is what’s known as an extended typeface. This means that its characters are extra-wide, which can lead visitors to read the text at a slower pace than usual, making for a more memorable message.
As a fairly dominant font, Adieu generally works well in logos and website header text. Inspired by themes of speed and sports, the letters feature a high contrast between thick and thin strokes, creating a sense of velocity.
When you should use it: Because of the width of this font, you can expect visitors to read your words more slowly. Considering this, you’d do well to avoid using this font for regular paragraph text and relegate it only to your headers or logos.
Type of font: Sans serif Free/premium: Free Foundry or designer: SIL International
Background: Andika is a Unicode-compliant font that was designed to be highly readable. Every letter is simply designed and can be easily distinguished from the other letters, avoiding the kind of cluttering that can happen with serif fonts.
Andika comes in both Latin and Cyrillic alphabets.
When you should use it: Designed specifically for beginning readers (i.e. children and new language learners), Andika has other applications as well. According to Accessibility and Usability at Penn State, it’s also useful for website visitors with reading impairments who benefit from websites with clear and distinct lettering.
Type of font: Geometric slab-serif
Free/premium: Free Foundry or designer: Anton Koovit
Background: The Finnish word Arvo translates to “number, value, worth”. This makes a lot of sense considering that Arvo is a geometric slab-serif typeface. While the font has an orderly aesthetic, subtle touches give it a bit of an edge and make it stand out from other slab-serifs. Note, for example, the contrast added to the figures and the little additions on the “G”, “c” and “s” that differentiate them from the other letters.
When you should use it: Designed for both screen and print, Arvo works well as a display font. Regardless of whether you use it for your header or your body text, make sure the geometric styling fits the narrative the site is trying to tell.
Type of font: Serif/sans serif hybrid
Free/premium: Premium Foundry or designer: Miguel Reyes for Commercial Type