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.
Web designers all know about Google Fonts' large selection of free fonts. Currently, there are over 800 fonts available for use in websites as well as for download. The fonts available here are all open source and don't require any special licenses to use as you see fit.
Google Fonts has a simple and clean interface where you can search for fonts based on type (sans serif, serif, etc.), thickness, slant, and width, as well as language scripts. You can test out how a font will look by simply typing on it. Google Fonts is often used by website designers who choose the embed option for CSS files, but when clicking on the font you can also easily download it to your computer by using the icon in the top right corner.
1001 Free Fonts
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.
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."