When it comes to beautiful calligraphy fonts, sometimes it can be hard to find a style that is exactly what you need for your project, especially without having to spend a lot of money while testing.
Today I am going to share my absolute favorite FREE calligraphy and lettering fonts to get your wheels turning and inspire your next project, whether that is a calendar, invitations, a simple blog graphic, logo, business cards or if you want to make a cute T-shirt or mug.
One important note is that all of this fonts are free to download BUT only for personal projects, and most of them do not include alternates or ligatures in the free sample.
So, if you plan to make a product with it (for profit) it means that you will need a commercial license, but no worries, all of them include a commercial license in their basic purchase options.
I am linking not only to the free download but also to the places where you can find the full version of the Calligraphy font WITH commercial licenses, both Creative Market and Font Bundles, include a basic commercial use of all their fonts.
Also, if you plan to use the font in Web, PDF or App embed. You might want to check with the Designer first. Because this kind of use normally requires an additional more expensive license. Now, some designers include this use with their basic license, so it’s always better to double check.
WHAT ARE ALTERNATES AND LIGATURES?
I know that while I was explaining what the free fonts normally don't include, I mentioned alternates and ligatures.
And you might have just read and thought, what the heck are those?
Well, let me explain with a few examples from one of the fonts I designed myself, Amapola Script.
As the name indicates, alternates are variations of a letter or character that can be programmed into a font so you can select what “version” of the letter you want to display.
Some of the most common alternates found in fonts are initial and end characters, especially in calligraphy fonts, because those are usually the characters we focus when adding extra swatches or decorative elements.
As explained in the Typedecon blog:
Two or more letters combined into one character make a ligature. In typography, some ligatures represent specific sounds or words such as the AE or æ diphthong ligature. Other ligatures are primarily to make type more attractive on the page such as the fl and fi ligatures. In most cases, a ligature is only available in extended characters sets or special expert sets of fonts. – Typedecon.com
On calligraphy fonts, some of the most popular ligatures are the ones with double letters (ex. Oo, ff, ll, ee, etc.) Other common ligatures are those that make some of the most used letter combinations more special (ex. fl, br, th, st, etc).
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF LIGATURES AND ALTERNATES?
When you find a calligraphy font with a lot of alternates and ligatures you have more options to make the words you are selecting “look” more like real calligraphy.
Since in calligraphy the relations in the letters are not always the same, having options to make those same relations in a font is what makes it look more real and better.
As I mentioned before, the free versions of the fonts don’t include all of the alternates and ligatures that the full versions do, so if you like one of the fonts listed, check out the extended versions to see everything else that the full paid version includes.
HOW TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE FONT VERSION?
All free versions are shared in dafont.com, in order to download just click on the FREE VERSION pink button and then in the grey DOWNLOAD button, all fonts are compressed in ZIP files, so you will need to either download in your computer OR have an app to save to your mobile device like Dropbox or an equivalent.
FREE CALLIGRAPHY FONTS
And now let's just into the FREE calligraphy fonts! I’ve separated them by style so it’s easier for you to find the style you are looking for.
For this roundup, I’m focusing on SCRIPT calligraphy fonts, if you are interested in other styles just let me know in the comments! And If you don’t know the difference between Calligraphy lettering and typography, I wrote this post where I explain all about them and why they are not the same.
Cerilleta by Syahputra: The free version is available in OTF and TTF format, and it's for personal use only, only standard characters are included in the free version. It has an oversized o and swashes in the capital glyphs.
Bitthai Script by Amar Lettering: The free version is available in OTF and TTF format, alternates and ligatures are not included in the free version and it's for personal non-commercial use only. This font is perfect for signatures or a project that needs a loose and playful font.
Charlotte Calligraphy by Aldedesign: The free version is available in OTF format and in regular and slanted versions, the free version is for personal use only, alternates and ligatures are not included in the free version. The dots in the i and j have little hearts on them and makes this an adorable alternative for wedding invitations and save the dates.
Princella by Amar Lettering: The free version is available in OTF and TTF format, the free version is for non-commercial use only. The capital letters have playful swatches that make it perfect for projects like invitations or products that have capital letters on them like names and places. This font is not suitable for use in all caps.
Brooke Smith Script by Mightype: The free version is only in TTF format, and while this font does not have very strong thick and thins characteristic of calligraphy fonts, it has a lovely loose feel and it would be perfect to pair with a sans serif font for your creative projects.
Challista by Amar Lettering: The free version is available in OTF and also in TTF format, basic accents and multilingual support is also available in the free version and just like the rest, it's for personal use only, if you plan to make items for sale with this font you will need to purchase the full version listed below.
Eritta by Amar Lettering: The free version is available in both TTF and OTF file format, the free version is for personal use only. Alternates and ligatures are not included in the free version. It has a playful bounce in the baseline and swirls in most capital letters, the full version for sale has multilingual support and alternates with swirls and entry/exit strokes.
Andora by Weape Design: The free version is only in TTF format. This font is bolder than most ones I shared before and is an example of a style more similar to “brush calligraphy” or sign painting. It's still a wonderful alternative when looking for a vintage look and it pairs well with most serif and sans-serif fonts.
Desyanti by Amar Lettering: The demo free version is available in OTF and TTF file format, the demo is for non-commercial use only and it has a bouncy descender motion on some letters that make it super lovely, the thickness on the downstrokes also makes it perfect for smaller pieces that still need attention, and I personally love how thin the upstrokes are.
Chandrawinata by Zulkhairi M Saleh: The free version is available in OTF, TTF, and WOFF. This means that the WOFF version can be used in your blog or website as web-font. How cool is that?! Just remember that the free demo version is for personal use only. This one also is almost a monoline (same with on upstrokes and downstrokes), but I just love the simple look of it!
Melinda by Amar Lettering: The free demo version is available in TTF and also in OTF format. The uppercases are super lovely and even though there's not much difference in thickness from upstrokes to downstrokes, this font is a great example of modern calligraphy. The full version offers a good number of alternates and ligatures that would make any project extra special.
Signatra by Twicolabs Fontdation: The free version is available in OTF and also in TTF file format. This font is another great example of brush pen calligraphy effect and I love how the upstrokes are a little thinner than the other examples of this same style. This style similar to sign painting is also very versatile when it comes to pairing with other fonts making it a must-have in any font collection.
Marchelina Script by Cotbada Studio: The free version only available in TTF file format, this means that only the standard characters are included and it does not support OpenType features. The full version, however, does have extra glyphs (alternates and ligatures) and includes commercial use.
Bernadette by StereoType: The free version only includes the TTF format file and it's for personal non-commercial use only. Like the other fonts, I shared in this style, Bernadette resembles calligraphy done with a big brush, like the Tombow dual brush pen. I love how the lowercase w doesn't fully touch the other letters, it gives it a more “real” feel and the upper loop on the lowercase r is just lovely!
Trade Mark by Jroh Creative: The free version is available in OTF file format and has basic multilingual support. The full version allows commercial use and includes swatches as well as alternates and ligatures that make it such a fun font to work with.
Brillyo by Masinong Studio: The free version is available in OTF format and in regular and slanted versions, the free version is for personal use only, alternates and ligatures are not included in the free version. The dots in the i and j have little hearts on them.
WANT TO MAKE YOUR OWN FONT?
Making a font was in my bucket list ever since I started lettering while in college, but the process was so intimidating to me! Especially on script fonts, I created I sans-serif font while in class, but those are easy peasy to code.
Creating a script font was definitely out of my league.
That was until my friend Teela from Every Tuesday created her class LEARN FONT MAKING.
I created my first ever “finished” (because I started the process on my own so many times) Script font Amapola two weeks after I finish the class and made the investment of the class back within a week.
Making fonts has been a great way to make passive income for me, I now sell them in my studio, Creative Market and Etsy. So if you are thinking about it and don't know where to start, I suggest you check it out. The class only opens twice a year, so it might be a few months before you can enroll, but you can always subscribe the HowJoyful Newsletter and I will let you know when the next class will open =]
I hope you enjoyed this selection of FREE Calligraphy fonts and if you have any other style you would like me to cover just let me know in the comments.