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. This is especially important if you make your living from design; you don’t want to discover after sending artwork to print that the font you chose isn’t licensed for commercial use, or is incompatible with the printer’s systems.
Cursive fonts are especially prevalent on the web, as they’re often a representation of handwriting (although not always), so with a little knowledge in how to scan and map artwork into font-generating software, it’s relatively easy to create a cursive font. The issue is that many people contributing their fonts stop at this point, whereas any type designer would insist that having created the letterforms, the work has only really just begun.
Free for commercial use
With all of this in mind we’ve selected a handful of brilliant cursive fonts. They’re all free to use commercially – not just in personal projects. And they all have at least some degree of type-hinting and/or kerning applied by the type designer. (Well, actually our final choice breaks this rule, but as you’ll see it’s well worth it…)
So read on, check out our list and let us know if you’ve spotted any cool cursive fonts we should add to it!
- Also read: Great free handwriting fonts
One of the best open source cursive 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.
02. 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.
03. Honey Script
This beautifully whimsical script 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.
04. Marketing Script
This is another of Dieter Steffmann’s fonts, demonstrating his versatility as a type designer. What sets Marketing Script 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.
05. 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.
06. 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 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 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.
09. Wisdom Script
A brilliant retro-style script that feels at home in a headline or display, this was created by James T. Edmondson 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.
10. Christopher Hand
This handwritten 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.