15 professional fonts for designers

Although designers often love a bit of experimental typography, in some cases it's best to keep things a little smarter. In these situations, you need a professional font. In this post, we've rounded up the best options to give your designs a clean, sophisticated look.

Are you looking for something a bit different? There's no shortage of great fonts around these days. Take a look at our pick of the best free fonts for designers for a selection that won't cost you a penny. And if you're struggling to match one font to another, see our post on font pairings. Or, if you need a font for different language markets, try our pick of the best multilingual fonts.

01. Helvetica Now

Professional fonts: Helvetica Now

Helvetica Now is completely rebuilt for digital usage (Image credit: Monotype)
  • Price: Individual fonts from £35; complete family for £249
  • Format: OTF

Essential though it is, Helvetica wasn't designed to cope with the heavy lifting that the digital age expects of it. That's why Monotype spent four years painstakingly redrawing every single character to create Helvetica Now, an updated version that's ready to work in across digital platforms and solve modern branding challenges that simply didn't exist when Helvetica was originally released.

Helvetica Now comes in three optical sizes – Micro, Text and Display – in weights ranging from Thin to Extra Black, and every size, weight and style is designed to provide maximum legibility in all situations. Launched back in April, Helvetica Now is already the third best seller on MyFonts.

02. Gilroy

Professional fonts: Gilroy

Gilroy is here (Image credit: Radomir Tinkov)
  • Price: Most fonts from £17.99 (Light and Extra Bold available free); complete family for £132.99
  • Format: OTF

Currently the best-selling font family on MyFonts, Gilroy is a modern sans serif with a geometric touch, designed by Radomir Tinkov. Designed as a younger brother to Tinkov's Qanelas font family, it comes in 20 styles, with 10 uprights and matching italics, and weights ranging from Thin to Heavy.

Opentype features include extended language support and Cyrillics, fractions and ligatures, and Gilroy's designed for versatility; Tinkov suggests it's good for everything from editorial and web design through to graphic design and signage. If you want to get a feel for it, two styles are available completely free, so download the Light and Extra Bold weights and see how they work for you.

03. Chalet Comprimé

Professional fonts: Chalet Comprimé

Stylised, compact and clean
  • Price: Free (web); $75 per font (desktop)
  • Format: OTF

Chalet Comprimé was inspired by celebrated French fashion designer René Chalet, and extends the original Chalet font family. This is more stylised than many of the other professional fonts in this list, but its compact, clean letterforms make it idea for anyone looking for an elegant typographical solution. The family includes 10 fonts: three different weights in three styles, plus a titling face (above is the Chalet Milan 1980 variant). The web versions of these professional fonts are free up to 12,500 page views per month. 

04. Sabon

Professional fonts: Sabon

A smooth texture and highly distinctive 'f
  • Price: £35 each (or 4 for $99/£85)
  • Format: OTF

Sabon is Jan Tschichold's response to a request to design a new version of Claude Garamond classical Roman. It features a smooth texture and a highly distinctive 'f' in the italic variant. This professional font family has long been popular for typographers setting book text. The family is named after Jacques Sabon, who introduced Garamond’s Romans to Frankfurt.

05. FF Din

Professional fonts: FF Din serif font sample

This font is part of MOMA's digital typefaces
  • Price: From £49 per font (multi-font packages available)
  • Format: OTF

Added to MOMA's digital typefaces for its Architecture and Design collection back in 2011, FF Din is a popular choice among designers. Created by Dutch type designer Albert-Jan Pool between 1995 and 2009, this sans serif is ideally suited to advertising and packaging, logos and branding. It's available in a range of styles and weights, and you can pick up a single font or opt for a bundle that contains the versions you like best.

06. Oswald

Professional fonts: Oswald serif font sample

A reworking of the classic style historically represented by the 'Alternate Gothic' sans-serif typefaces
  • Price: Free
  • Format: Google web font

Oswald has become a popular professional font choice for designers, especially for those working in the world of of the web. A reworking of the classic style historically represented by the 'Alternate Gothic' sans-serif typefaces, this professional font has been re-drawn and reformed to better fit the pixel grid of standard digital screens. 

07. Brandon Grotesque

Professional fonts: Brandon Grotesque sans serif font sample

This font was influenced by the popular geometric-style, sans serif typefaces of the 1920s and '30s
  • Price: £31.99 per font
  • Format: OTF

Designed by Hannes von Dohren in 2009, Brandon Grotesque was influenced by the popular geometric-style, sans serif typefaces of the 1920s and 30s. Equipped for complex, professional photography, Brandon Grotesque won the Type Directors Club Award in 2011.

08. Aviano

Professional fonts: Aviano serif font sample in gold

Aviano typeface is inspired by the power and timeless beauty of classic letterforms
  • Price: £18.99 per font
  • Format: OTF

Named after a small town at the base of the Alps in Northern Italy, Aviano typeface is inspired by the power and timeless beauty of classic letterforms. A gorgeous design, Aviano was created by type designer Jeremy Dooley, owner of one-man foundry Insigne.

09. Proxima Nova

Professional fonts: Proxima Nova sans serif font sample

Proxima Nova comes in seven weights
  • Price: £21.99 per font
  • Format: OTF/TTF

Used by over 25,000 websites, including Buzzfeed, Wired and Mashable, Mark Simonson's professional font Proxima Nova is an extremely popular choice amongst designers. The extensive family is available in seven weights (thin, light, regular, semi-bold, bold, extra-bold and black), with matching italics, small caps and condensed and extra-condensed widths. 

10. Rockwell

Professional fonts: Rockwell serif font sample

This is a vintage-inspired choice of font
  • Price: £35 per font
  • Format: OTF/TTF

Geometric slab serif Rockwell was inspired by a 1910 font titled Litho Antique. Designer Morris Fuller Benton revived Rockwell in the 1920s before it was redesigned and published in 1934 by Monotype, in a project headed by Frank Hinman Pierpont.

11. Le Havre

Professional fonts: Le Havre sans serif font sample

Le Havre channel an art-deco vibe
  • Price: £18.99 per font
  • Format: OTF

Art deco-inspired typeface Le Havre was named after the port where many a famous luxury cruise liner was launched in the 1930s. Compressed capitals, a low x-height and geometric construction give this beautiful typeface a retro look and feel, with the new contemporary update in 2009 lending itself to all manner of creative projects.

12. Mallory

Mallory display font sample

A reliable tool, each style contains over 1250 glyphs
  • Price: From $50 per font
  • Format: OTF

Mallory is the product of type designer and teacher Tobias Frere-Jones. It's a beautiful professional font, which began as an experiment in mixing typographic traditions, building a new design with British and American traits.

Frere-Jones has a number of best-selling type designs under his belt, but Mallory was the first font he created after splitting with long-time creative partner Jonathan Hoefler.

He comments on his website: "Mallory was built to be a reliable tool, readily pairing with other typefaces to organise complex data and fine-tune visual identities. Each style contains over 1250 glyphs, to anticipate a wide range of content: small caps and old-style figures for running text, lining figures and uppercase punctuation for headlines, tabular figures and over a dozen currency symbols for financial data."

13. FF Meta

FF Meta sans serif font sample

  • Price: From $59/£45 per font
  • Format: OTF

Created by outspoken type designer Erik Spiekermann, FF Meta was first called PT55, a typeface made for easy reading at small sizes for West German Post Office in 1985. Spiekermann continued work on his design to include more weights and styles, later releasing it as FF Meta, one of the first and truly foundational members of the early FontFont library.

With a clean, cheery and distinctive aesthetic, professional font FF Meta flourished in the early 1990s and has been a firm favourite ever since. In 2011, the Museum of Modern Art in New York added FF Meta to its permanent collection, one of only 23 fonts selected to represent typography of the digital era.

14. Soho

Professional fonts: Soho

Soho has over 40,000 glyphs
  • Price: From $79 per font
  • Format: OTF

Beefy slab serif Soho is the product of renowned type designer Seb Lester. The super-family has over 40,000 glyphs and represents three years' worth of work. 

"As a type designer I'm preoccupied with finding ways in which I can address modern problems like good legibility in modern media, and create fonts that work precisely and efficiently in the most technically demanding of corporate and publishing environments," he comments on the Monotype website.

15. Davison Spencerian

Professional fonts: Davison Spencerian

A tribute font
  • Price: Free for web, $75 for desktop
  • Format: OTF/web font

This font is a tribute to American letter designer Meyer 'Dave' Davison. He was arguably one of the most distinguished lettering artists of the 20th century. With a library of Spencerian designs, Davison Spencerian typeface made its first appearance in Photo-Lettering’s 1946 catalogue and remains a benchmark of the ornamental script genre.

Tireless hours have been spent by Mitja Miklavčič and House Industries designers Ben Barber and Ken Kiel to preserve the poise and precision of Davison’s masterwork in this faithfully-rendered digital incarnation.

The House Industries website states: 'From automotive exhaust accessories and pirate-themed wedding invites to New Orleans sissy bounce hip-hop CD covers and upmarket bivalve ambrosia packaging, Davison Spencerian offers sober sophistication and unparalleled flexibility'.

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