Decent alternatives for popular fonts (Part 1)

Good typefaces often don’t come cheap. So we have compiled some decent alternatives for popular fonts.

Many good typefaces out there, no matter how much they resonate with your brand, are unfortunately overused you need to think twice to use them (we’re talking about uniqueness here). They also cost a hefty sum, which is actually pretty normal considering the amount of effort and time designers spent in designing them. So, bearing this in mind, we compile some decent and free alternatives for popular fonts. These alternatives have similar aesthetic and characteristics; however, keep in mind that there are also some things that can’t substitute their popular counterparts.

01. Helvetica Neue Alternative: Roboto

To put it simply, Helvetica Neue is the younger sibling of our all time favorite, Helvetica. Reworked in 1957 by D. Stempel AG and launched years later in 1983, Helvetica Neue was greatly improved in terms of legibility. The punctuation marks are heavier and the spacing between numbers is wider.

Like its older sibling, the typeface becomes enormously popular for a number of reasons: it offers this clean, bold and modern look effortlessly. It’s precise and practical. The simplicity emerges from its shapes and weights conveys dependability that it’s just inevitable to overlook this typeface, hence its great popularity across media. Think it’s a bit overused? You may want to check out Roboto, a free Google font alternative to this popular typeface.

02. Gotham Alternative: Montserrat

Initially designed by Tobias Frere-Jones for a commission work for GQ magazine, Gotham is enormously versatile that it pervades throughout most brands and industries, from Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign to movie posters.

The typeface can be used anywhere in almost any situation, but it still allows people to view your design seriously. It is indeed a great font—so great it’s everywhere.

Designers cry out for an alternative for the popular typeface: a versatile and straightforward geometric sans serif that gives away clean and fresh vibes. Indeed, there are many decent alternatives for Gotham like Museo Sans among others, but Montserrat is the most feasible alternative.

03. FF Tisa Alternative: PT Serif

Tisa is a serif typeface created in 2006 by Mitja Miklavčič to fulfill the  requirements for the MA in Typeface Design, University of Reading. The slabserif typeface quickly propelled to spotlight due to its contemporary look and humanist characteristics. Its asymmetric serifs and well-spaced letterforms improve its legibility, hence the typeface’s enormous use in magazines and newspaper.

While it’s a little bit hard to find a free typeface that shares the exact same characteristics to Tisa, we find that PT Serif is a great alternative. Despite some sharp edges in PT Serif, the large x-height, modest stroke contrast, and triangular terminals make up for it.

04. Optima Alternative: Arsenal

Designed by Hemann Zapf and released by the D. Stempel AG foundry, Optima’s design that originated from Roman monumental capital model is widely popular ever since its release in 1958. The wide, full-bodied characters varying in width enable a logo to have a modern yet classic look, hence the ubiquity of the humanist sans-serif typeface across brands such as Jaguar and Nordstrom.

Despite the thinner width, Arsenal pulls of the level of class that Optima offers, making it a great alternative if you don’t want to use our good old pal.

05. Futura Alternative: Didact Gothic

Designed by German type designer Paul Renner and released in 1927, Futura has been a longtime classic. As a geometric sans-serif type, its timeless geometric shapes offer efficiency and straightforwardness.

It was, and still is, loved for its neutrality and versatlity, thanks to the clean geometric shapes, balanced letterforms, and no-nonsense elements that give a nod to classical Roman capitals. The typeface is emblazoned across platforms, from corporate brands to cover books.

Futura is ubiquitous that many designers started creating sans-serif typefaces that share similar characteristics with the typeface. Didact Gothic is one of the many good alternatives that isn’t used nearly as often.

Check out the second part of the series here.

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