Is there a free 'Helvetica Neue' alternative?

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Does anyone know any other fonts similar to Helvetica Neue (free for commercial use)?

I'm working on a big website project where 'Helvetica Neue' is used heavily. I need a font that looks almost the same, is free for personal and commercial use, and looks good even when used with copytext (e.g. fontsize for copytext = 11px, for headlines = 16px).

Also there should be a condensed-font style included (if possible).

drpelz

Posted 2013-01-29T02:35:01.007

Reputation: 542

Answers

65

I still think that for web, the best free option out there is Liberation Sans. It renders perfectly with @font-face.

enter image description here

But you can get Helvetica Neue for web from Fonts.com for web use for a fair price too. I would probably use font-family:"Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, Liberation Sans, Arial, sans-serif"; so those pcs with the font installed can see it, and those who don't have it can see a replacement.

Yisela

Posted 2013-01-29T02:35:01.007

Reputation: 22 835

2@Questioner Liberation fonts now use the SIL Open Font License, not the GPL, so that should be a non-issue now.Scribblemacher 2016-08-17T15:29:44.603

7

Personally I like Open Sans a lot, which is available in many weights and is available on Google Fonts: http://www.google.com/fonts/specimen/Open+Sans

Tim S. 2014-04-27T21:31:20.480

3According to the Wikipedia entry on Liberation fonts, "...documents embedding these fonts do not automatically fall under the GNU GPL, but will still likely cause problems with commercial software." I'm not a lawyer, but it seems that if you use Liberarion fonts in a software product, you may be obligated to apply a GPL license to that product, which may not be what you want. Again, stressing that I'm no expert in licensing, but I had to give up using Liberation on one project because of concerns over licensing.Questioner 2014-05-19T05:06:12.330

2

Yes, I've used Liberation Sans and TeXGyreHeros (mentioned in Capiedge's answer). Note that Google's web font "Arimo" is identical to Liberation Sans: http://graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/a/9054/9127

Gavin R. Putland 2014-05-25T13:04:16.313

46

Roboto is a good neo-grotesque sans that can replace Helvetica. Commissioned by Google and released for free. Used as Android's default font.

Google re-designed Roboto in July 2014. The above sample has now been updated.

More about Roboto's (pre-redesign) similarity to Helvetica here. I wouldn't overstate its similarity, but I would say it's a good free alternative. Since the 2014 redesign, some of its most Helvetica-like aspects have actually been removed.

I also agree with Yisela's recommendation of Liberation Sans, which is also a good font albeit available in fewer weights.

thomasrutter

Posted 2013-01-29T02:35:01.007

Reputation: 5 236

Is a Fudgedicle the non-trademarked version?Eric Mickelsen 2016-04-11T22:48:16.807

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Roboto on Google webfonts here: https://www.google.com/fonts#UsePlace:use/Collection:Roboto

Simon East 2014-03-13T07:08:13.560

1Note: Google in their infinite wisdom have decided to totally redesign Roboto as of July 2014 - among other things it no longer has the Helvetica-like "R", and other letters like the "g" and "e", "k" and "K" have a different design. As of now the version on Google web fonts is still the old version but that is unlikely to remain the case.thomasrutter 2014-07-08T23:45:31.483

18

Tex-Gyre-Heros is for me the best one. Enjoy it!

Tex-Gyre-Heros

Capiedge

Posted 2013-01-29T02:35:01.007

Reputation: 289

2That font is actually derived from a URW++ font. It's still mentioned in the copyrights.Andrew Leach 2014-04-28T16:12:18.730

1@AndrewLeach what's that mean as far as copyrights are concerned? Haven't heard of that abbreviation before.Vincent 2014-04-28T16:59:25.527

5URW++ is a font foundry. This font is a derivative work, and probably unlicensed for free distribution. URW++ fonts are very expensive.Andrew Leach 2014-04-28T17:35:04.050

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You can find an abstract of the lincese in this link http://www.fontsquirrel.com/license/TeX-Gyre-Heros Reading it, I have not seen any restriction to say that this is a free font. Don't you think?

Capiedge 2014-04-29T17:03:09.520

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@AndrewLeach it's good to be on the lookout for that, as there are a lot of questionable 'free fonts' out there. That said, FontSquirrel, I feel, is one of the more legitimate sources for free typefaces. Also, URW++ has released or helped release typefaces to Open Source projects. An example is their version of Garamond: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garamond#URW.2B.2B_Garamond_No._8

DA01 2014-07-23T04:32:44.440

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Specifically, the TEX families were realeased by URW under the GPL http://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/107877/why-did-the-gyre-project-fork-the-urw-fonts-rather-than-just-extending-them

spiral 2015-06-17T15:01:14.523

8

The closest open source licensed font to Helvetica Neue I have found is surprisingly GNU FreeSans. Below is a sample from Inkscape, with FreeSans at the top and Helvetica Neue at the bottom. The glyphs are nearly identical, some are a little closer to original Helvetica. The spacing varies slightly (at least in Inkscape). The biggest difference I can see is FreeSans has ligatures between certain characters, note the 'fl' combination. It is an excellent font and is works well with the GNU font family of FreeSerif and FreeMono. top FreeSans, bottom Helvetica Neue,application inkscape

Brad Johnson

Posted 2013-01-29T02:35:01.007

Reputation: 81

7

For a Helvetica Neue Condensed, you can have a look at the webfont Archivo Narrow:

https://www.google.com/fonts/specimen/Archivo+Narrow

Archivo Condensed Webfont Google

For the Helvetica Neue Black version, this version of Archivo Black is not bad either:

https://www.google.com/fonts/specimen/Archivo+Black

Archivo Black Webfonts Google

For the other Helvetica Neue like the standard one, other answers have been posted and they're pretty good.

If you want to only stick to the Google WebFonts, Droid Sans, Open Sans and Roboto are not perfect but could work.

go-junta

Posted 2013-01-29T02:35:01.007

Reputation: 11 952

6

Ferdi Çıldız

Posted 2013-01-29T02:35:01.007

Reputation: 798

1Please make sure to include screenshots on font recommendations.DᴀʀᴛʜVᴀᴅᴇʀ 2016-12-20T23:52:57.030

2

Everyone's been giving you names of fonts that look similar to Helvetica (some more than others) but depending on what kind of project it is that you're working on you might not need any of those.

Unless you need something that looks almost exactly like Helvetica, Arial might be an option you should consider. It comes pre-installed in (almost?) every Windows version and also Apple devices. Unfortunately Arial Narrow isn't included in iOS but, since both Helvetica and Helvetica Neue come pre-installed in all Apple devices, you wouldn't have to worry too much about it.

Your font stack could be something like font-family: "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; and you'd be covering the most common devices and operating systems (except for Android which I think doesn't come with any of those two font families).

Keep in mind this is far from ideal in most cases but would allow you to avoid licensing costs and reduce the time it takes for your website to load (since it will not be downloading fonts). This will also take some load off you server even though serving fonts isn't such a big deal.

Here's a link to a site with some of the fonts that come pre-installed with different operating systems: http://www.cssfontstack.com. And here's another one to a Wikipedia article about the usage share of the different operating systems: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_operating_systems.

hack_nug

Posted 2013-01-29T02:35:01.007

Reputation: 56

1Hi hack_nug, welcome to GDSE and thanks for your answer. If you have any questions, please see the [help] or ping one of us in the [chat] once your reputation is sufficient (20). Keep contributing and enjoy the site!Vincent 2016-06-26T11:05:49.703

1

This may not resemble Helvetica that much, but I did find a font called Montserrat which you can download from FontSquirrel.

enter image description here

user64338

Posted 2013-01-29T02:35:01.007

Reputation: 11

1If it doesn't resemble it then why would you post it as an answer?Zach Saucier 2016-04-09T15:22:58.027

The person asking the question may find this helpful.user64338 2016-04-09T15:24:16.560

0

The closest I've found so far is "Raleway" on Google Fonts (http://www.google.com/fonts). I usually use the light 300, 200 or 100. Not exact, but as close as I can find at the the moment.

Erik

Posted 2013-01-29T02:35:01.007

Reputation: 1

0

For Uppercase, Oswald seems good option available at Google Fonts http://www.google.com/fonts/specimen/Oswald

Himanshu Saini

Posted 2013-01-29T02:35:01.007

Reputation: 101

Please make sure to include screenshot(s) of the font when recommending it. It provides a comparison for others and a font screenshot will also improve your answer.DᴀʀᴛʜVᴀᴅᴇʀ 2016-12-20T23:56:41.363

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Anna Susanna

Posted 2013-01-29T02:35:01.007

Reputation: 1

1

Welcome to Graphic Design! Whilst this answer the question, it would be preferable to edit your answer to include images of the fonts, and provide the link for reference. Also your second link is broken.

Luciano 2016-06-15T08:01:34.543