Cursive fonts, or script fonts, are especially prevalent on the web, as they're often representational of handwriting (although not always), so with a little knowledge of how to scan and map artwork into font-generating software, it's relatively easy to create your own cursive fonts.
But when it comes to the overabundance of free design resources on the web – especially free fonts – it can be tricky to find the diamonds in the rough. With this in mind we've selected a handful of brilliant cursive fonts. They're all free to use commercially – not just in personal projects.
These tributes to the agonisingly long calligraphy classes you resented at school all have at least some degree of type-hinting and/or kerning applied by the type designer.
01. La Sonnambula
Designed by Fernando Haro, a freelance graphic designer and webmaster who describes himself as an eclectic typographer, La Sonnambula is a handwritten and extended font that's made with calligraphic texts and elegant titles in mind. It's named after an opera by Vincenzo Bellini, performed by Maria Callas in Milan in 1957, and despite its venerable inspiration it's bang up to date, even including a Bitcoin symbol.
Gregory Medina – AKA dcoxy – does a great line in fonts that are free for personal use, and Lily of the Valley is just one of his wide range of attractive script fonts. Fun and quirky with some adorable flourishes on many of the letterforms, it features a full set of lower and upper case characters, plus accents and symbols. For numbers and extra weights, contact Medina to buy a licence for the full version.
03. The Woodlands
This beautiful design, The Woodlands, is by designer Jeremy Vessey. "It has a modern calligraphy aesthetic that is extremely popular," Vessey comments on Behance. "The Woodlands was created to give designers a free alternative, which will help you achieve that lettering feel we all love." The Woodlands is free for both personal and commercial use.
Free cursive font Noelan comes from the team at Pixel Surplus. Free for both personal and commercial use, Noelan is a clean and modern design, and includes many alternates and international characters for easy mixing and matching.
05. King Basil
Fee cursive font King Basil is one of many beautiful type designs from Missy Meyer and Mats-Peter Forss. Available at no charge for both personal and commercial use, King Basil is great for a variety of print and digital projects, including stationery, posters, logo designs and more.
Typographer Laura Worthington is behind thick, substantial script font Milkshake. Available over on Fair Goods, Worthington comments: "As I went through the design and development phase, I was really drawn to how round and thick it was turning out and I liked this look – it makes it a sturdy font, capable of holding up against busy backgrounds and bold enough for headlines or titling treatments."
07. Variane Script
Created by Boy Moch Tomi, this stunning script font harks back to the good ol' days of classic design and marked his first attempt at creating script fonts. He says, "I am very interested in the script because of its complexity and only a few of them are free to use. I hope that these fonts will be useful for everyone!" The modern take on classic cursive is reminiscent of early 20th century American signage and can instantly give your brand a splash of vintage charm.
Created by designer James Edmondson, Lavaderia is a charming font that takes influence from the Laundromat windows of San Francisco's Mission District. It comes in a range of open type features and three weights. Working as a script font, Lavanderia will really work well as a heading type as well as being able to slot nicely into the set body text.
09. Fabfelt Script
French graphic designer Fabien Despinoy is the creative behind Fabfelt, a free script font with an industrial feel. "I tried to design a handwritten typeface without graininess, which is natural and a little retro," he comments.
Not strictly cursive but this hand-drawn brush type will add a natural touch to your designs. It's ideal for anything from wedding invitations, poster and logos to greeting cards and more, thanks to its irregular, bouncing characters that add a personal feel.
11. Black Jack
This sophisticated Black Jack type design was created by Ronna Penner of Typadelic. Although this cursive font is only available in one style, Black Jack is made up of 177 characters, including a full set of upper and lower case letters and numbers.
A stylised, yet legible font, Allura is the script format of the Allura Pro family. Designed by Rob Leuschke, Allura is a great cursive font option for use on invitations and as a display typeface.
13. Dancing Script
A casual but lively cursive font, Dancing Script was designed by Pablo Impallari. The letters bounce and change slightly and capital letters are big and go below the baseline. Referencing popular scripts from the 50s, Dancing Script is great for creating a friendly, informal look.
One of the best open source script fonts, this was originally designed by Anke Arnold of www.anke-art.de, but has been extended to include international characters by Fontgrube Media Design. It's only available in TrueType, rather than OpenType, but does have a set of over 100 kerning pairs built in, offering an approximation of the benefits of OpenType. And of course, it's free to use commercially.
15. Oleo Script
Designers Soytutype describe Oleo Script as being a flowly yet legible, non-connected script typeface. One of our favourite cursive fonts, it's a great option for use as a display typeface, and is available via Google Webfonts in two different weights: regular and bold, as well as in a 'Swash Caps' variant for both weights.
16. Honey Script
This beautifully whimsical script font was designed by Dieter Steffmann, a trained typesetter turned amateur designer. His work is distributed freely via approved websites as part of his philosophy that fonts are a part of cultural heritage. We love the simple hand-drawn appearance of the lines in this cursive font.
17. Marketing Script
This is another of Dieter Steffmann's fonts, demonstrating his versatility as a type designer. What sets the Marketing Script font apart is its flowing, connected characters which feel perfectly spaced and balanced. Available in three different styles, including a shadow form, this is one of our favourite cursive fonts.
18. Pacifico Regular
This lovely clean cursive font has been designed by Vernon Adams of newtypography.co.uk, and has been featured in adverts for butter spreads amongst others! It's also available within Google's Web Fonts collection, for use online.
19. Little Days
Little Days is a cute cursive font designed by West Wind Fonts. You can see some of their other work at their website. This script font isn't designed for serious use, but invokes a sense of childish naivety that makes it appealing.
This eye-catching and elegant from Sudtipos offers a set of clean lines that manage to flow without expanding to fill every bit of space. It's economical with its use of the letterforms, reducing the capital A to a simple up/down stroke with a stylish flick. This is one of those cursive fonts that's great for bold headlines.
Created by Canadian designer Graham Meade, Freebooter is a superbly extravagant cursive font that bursts out of its lines with bold swishes and trills. This is a nice alternative to scenarios where you might fall back to Chopin or Edwardian Script, but want something a little more characterful.
22. Wisdom Script
A brilliant retro-style script font that feels at home in a headline or display, this was created by James Edmondson (who also made Lavaderia, earlier in our list) while a student at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. We particularly like the nod towards a musical treble clef within the letter S. Free for personal use, this particular script font will cost you a small fee of $30 if you'd like to use it in a professional capacity.
5th Grade Cursive is one of many handwritten fonts created by type designer Lee Batchelor. A fancy cursive font, the design has a retro look and feel to it, making it perfect for all your vintage designs. Batchelor's design also makes use of OpenType features to make it appear all the more natural.
24. Christopher Hand
This handwritten cursive font by El Stinger isn't the most technically competent in our list, but we love the ease of the letterforms and the honesty of the designer's notes. You may find yourself doing a little bit more work than usual to kern pairs together, but the end result will make it worthwhile: an appearance of effortless scrawl.
25. League Script
Brought to you by The League of Moveable Type comes League Script. A gorgeous rendition of teenage girl's endless diary entries, League Script offers a sweet alternative to boring body text. Designed by Haley Fiege, it includes ligatures and will act as the framework for future script designs. Its popularity is apparent; having been downloaded over 216,400 times. How will you use it?
26. Grand Hotel
Designed by Brian J Bonislawsky and Jim Lyles for Astigmatic, this font takes its inspiration from the title screen of the 1937 film Cafe Metropole starring Tyrone Power. It has a classic weight and subtlety that make you think of artisan signage and craft, but its cursive lowercase lends itself to a host of different uses.