Type On Screen
10 Display Faces for Under $50
Monday 25th November 2013
Great headings need more than size and personality. Stroke contrast, shapes, and letterspacing can all influence a typeface’s beauty and readability. So today I’ve mined MyFonts to shortlist 10 web fonts that are underused, ultra-affordable, and ready for the spotlight. Dig in.
Designed specifically for editorial use, Leitura Display makes a bold headline, perfect for a newspaper-like design. A transitional typeface through and through, it draws similarities with fonts such as Baskerville, Scala, and Didot. High contrast and with a tall x-height, Leitura Display is highly readable, and its italics and swashes are beautifully designed. It would work perfectly for any blog or news site with a more formal, upmarket tone.
Andes is a humanist display face with a lot of personality. A varied range of terminal styles, straight edges, and rounded dots for the ‘i’ and ‘j’ make it feel like a different typeface with every weight. Andes UltraLight has an almost formal appearance, whereas ExtraBold has the warmth and quirkiness of a wood-cut typeface. Subtle and effective ligatures make Andes a perfect, understated face for many different display contexts.
Tightly tracked and high-contrast, Grumpy would look as at home on a 70’s album sleeve as it would in a high-fashion magazine advertisement. It’s a real statement-headline typeface. Its six optical variant weights go from consistently bold to almost stencil-like contrast. Complete with curvaceous numerals and OpenType alternatives, Grumpy is classic yet versatile.
While inconsistent stroke contrasts and a lack of optical corrections would make for a poor choice of body font, these flaws are precisely what make Farao charming, fun and full of character. They set it apart from the ocean of popular headline choices (typically serifs and Didones).
Interestingly, Egyptian typefaces were developed around the same time as sans-serifs and had many of the characteristics seen in Farao (uneven strokes, thick serifs). They were almost a backlash against the monotony of early sans typefaces. Of course Farao takes those details a step further, resulting in a wildly outspoken and friendly vibe.
Hercules, as the name suggests, is a firm and sturdy typeface but with all the delicacy of a Didone. Its lighter weights share characteristics with Egyptian faces, while the bold weights are unmistakably Modern. It would pair excellently with most serifs for a formal, professional, design. And its range of ligatures, wide selection of weights, and an accompanying body typeface means it can handle anything you throw at it.
Standing strong, Industry is a sharp-cut geometric sans with a spectrum of personality – from vintage and industrial to futuristic and space-age. Those curved corners counterbalance its sharp, industrial edges and terminals, giving the typeface a softer, more human touch. Its light weights are perfect for technology blogs and modern designs, and its bolder weights are legible enough to be used for smaller text, making it a real workhorse.
A humanist geometric sans in twelve weights and italics, Azo Sans is a multi-faceted modern typeface ready for a range of applications. Its thin and black sizes offer two different tones – from understated and modern to forthright and strong. Azo Sans is also mathematically designed, with many of its proportions based on the golden ratio. I think a tightly letter spaced headline in Azo Sans Thin with a spaciously letter spaced Bold for subtitles would make for a formidable modern design.
ParaType’s Kuenstler 480 is a revival of a 1954 Linotype typeface and is perfect for editorial designs. Beautiful and calligraphic, you get wedge serifs, sharp cut corners, and initial and finial decorative swashes, plus all the screen optimizations you could expect from an established foundry like ParaType.
Calluna is a text face through and through – but that doesn’t stop it from making an excellent choice at display sizes. Old style numerals, gorgeous ligatures, and delicate angles make this Venetian-style typeface both functional and beautiful. Paired with its twin typeface, Calluna Sans, you’d be hard pushed to find a design challenge the Calluna family isn’t equipped for.
Freight’s characteristic sharp contours and italics are a thing to behold. Freight Display Pro is always a great choice, but also among the large Freight family is Big Pro. Its high stroke contrast and ball terminals gives it a modern Didone feel, making it a strong choice for inflated headlines.
Buy once, use forever
Besides their massive selection, one of the best things about MyFonts is their pricing model. It’s a pay-once approach, which is really useful when billing client work. The one-off price you pay per font varies based on your monthly page views estimate. All 10 of these web fonts in my list come with up to 10K page views/month for less than $50. If you attract bigger audiences, you can increase your threshold to 100K page views/month and still come in at less than $100 each. Not too shabby.
For more web font recommendations, check out our Type on Screen collection. We’d also like to extend a big thank you to our guest author Dan Eden for writing today’s post. Guest authors are paid for their contribution, and all opinions are their own. All font prices were correct at the time of publishing.