Skip to main content

21 fonts every graphic designer should own

Massimo Vignelli, renowned Italian designer who created the classic American Airlines logo, once said that designers use far too many fonts. There are a few classics that Vignelli has put his stamp of approval on, like Garamond, Bodoni, Helvetica, Univers, Futura, Caslon and Baskerville – between them spanning three centuries of type design history. And most designers would agree that all of the above are timeless, albeit well-worn classics.

But what about those times when you need something a bit different? Sometimes the ubiquitous serifs of Times New Roman just don't quite match your vision. We've put together a selection of top fonts that, although often overlooked, should be in your toolkit. For a more exhaustive list, check out our pick of free fonts, for every font you'll ever need while on a budget.

Our list is split into display fonts, serif fonts, sans serif fonts and slab serif fonts to help you find the font you need. We'll start with display fonts...

Display fonts

01. Montecatini 

Fonts: Montecatini

Montecatini Pro comes in 24 charming styles

(Image credit: Louise Fili on MyFonts)

This elegant, Art Noveau-style font harks back to Italy at the turn of the 20th century. With stunning curly-but-clear flourishes, this font comes in a wide variety of ligatures, weight and widths making it as versatile as it is unique. Designer Louise Fili first released it in 2017 and it has now been developed into 24 enchanting styles.

02. F37 Bella

Fonts: Bella

Bella is a classical Didot-inspired beauty
(Image credit: Rick Banks on HypeForType)

Based on letterforms of American typographers John Pistilli and Herb Lubalin, and Swiss typographer Jan Tschichold, F37 Bella is an award-winning display font by Rick Banks. Designed in the classical French Didot style but with a contemporary geometrical twist, Bella contains alternatives and covers an extensive range of Latin-based languages, including Western and Eastern European.

03. Eames Stencil

Fonts: Eames

If you're looking for a great stencil font, look no further than Eames Stencil
(Image credit: House Industries)

Eames Stencil is great for when you're looking for a great stencil font that's beautifully designed and not in the least bit cheap-looking or gimmicky. This House Industries favourite is part of the broader Eames family, developed in homage to the late great Charles and Ray Eames. The curves in the stencil font were inspired by the curvature of bent plywood.

04. Otto

Fonts: Otto

Otto is Non-Format's first commercially available font
(Image credit: Non-Format on HypeForType)

Otto is a stunning font from talented design duo Non-Format. Featuring a combination of delicate lines with flashes of block colour, it's a unique display font with two personalities that works well in large formats.

05. Poster Bodoni

Fonts: Bodoni

This Bodoni display version from the 1920s is something extra special
(Image credit: Chauncey Griffin on NubbyTwiglets)

Okay, so Vignelli already ticked Bodoni off the list – and a beautifully classy Didone-style serif it is too, thanks to the craft skills of Giambattista Bodoni in the late 18th century. But this display version from the 1920s is something extra special for setting large, high-impact type where the extreme contrast between the stem thickness really comes into its own. A top font that's perfect for setting large, high-impact type where the extreme contrast between the stem thickness really comes into its own.

06. Cumulus & Foam

Fonts: Cumulus

This surreal display font combines simple, ultra-thin lines with bulbous, cloud-like forms
(Image credit: Stefan Kjartansson on YouWorkForThem)

Designed by Stefan Kjartansson for YouWorkForThem, this utterly unique, quite surreal display font combines simple, ultra-thin lines with bulbous, cloud-like forms to give Cumulus & Foam its tagline, "the most beautifully grotesque font of our time." Although Kjartansson proudly asserts that it doesn't work as a typeface, this top font's "ugly beauty" and "disciplined chaos" can certainly add character to a project.

Next page: serif fonts