It's easy to find free downloadable fonts on the web - legally, really free, and ready to be used on your computer. This means you can be really picky and find the perfect font for your project.
The Top Three Sites for Free Downloadable Fonts
The quickest way to locate sources for fonts on the web is like anything else you want to find: Google it! Remember, though, that just because something shows up on the "Free Downloadable Fonts" search page does not mean that it is actually that kind of site. In reverse order, here are some of the top three sources with all the fonts you want for free.
3. Free Downloadable Fonts - Quick and Easy
True to its name, this site is no frills, just a list of fonts that you can grab at will. A model of efficiency, this site gives a small preview of each font by spelling out its name in the actual font. This practice makes some of them, such as Zill o' Wisp, rather difficult to read, but it's a great way to tell quickly if the font is what you're looking for.
Right next to each title is a clearly-marked "Download" link, and when you click on it you may think you've fallen for a spam-trap. The site suddenly asks you to fill out a survey in order to get unobstructed access to the site - and when you select a survey, the first thing you see is a box asking for your email. This sets off all kinds of alarms for spam-aware users - but there is also a large "Close" button available, and when you push that, you are sent to a regular link to the TrueType Font download you initially wanted.
It's understandable that a site would want to support itself with ad-supported revenue, but this site is fairly clumsy and obnoxious in how it tries to get your attention. Still, for the right free fonts, it may be a rather small hoop to have to jump through.
2. 1001 Free Fonts - Second Best Free Font Source
A site that is a bit more friendly is 1001 Free Fonts. This site has a few ad-supported links, but shows a much more clear idea of what each font looks like. In fact, it even features a "Custom Preview" for each font - which will let you put in your actual text to see how it will look in a particular font. The preview is large and clear, and also allows for multiple entries - which is a good idea to try out. One danger of using fonts that are distorted is that some words you don't expect can become unreadable in the new fonts. Free fonts especially run into this problem, because they are often produced and distributed by amateur artists, rather than professional fontographers.
1001 Free Fonts also acknowledges that Windows and Mac users may need to download different types of fonts, and offers both types clearly to the right of each example. It also offers the option of downloading all 1001 fonts at once, license-free, for about $20 - a great deal for a lot of fonts.
1. DaFont - Saving the Best for Last
A perennial favorite with designers, DaFont has many categories of fonts, with more than ten times as many as other sites to choose from. In general this is the top source of downloadable fonts because of the fantastic organization of the site. Need a font with a European symbol? It lets you know. Need accents? It lets you know. With other descriptive categories as specific as "Fixed Width" and as vague as "Sexy", any fan of typography could spend hours on the site just exploring the variety of fonts submitted by fontographers.The site is also very easy in terms of downloading - offering one ubiquitous download link regardless of platform, but clear instructions on how to install the font once downloaded. It also provides a quick and easy way to donate to the author of the font in case "free" turns into "yeah, I'm willing to pay a little."
Aside from these three top sites, there are many other sources for free fonts - including giveaways from professional font companies like Chank. Whatever your project, take the time to explore just what form of lettering best expresses your own particular message.