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Free Fonts: Slab Serif Typefaces

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In this serie of articles about Typefaces, I would like to show you the various categories of typefaces. First category, the Slab serif fonts, are getting more and more attention nowadays due to their elegance and strength, combined with high contrasts makes them perfect for headlines.

In typography, a slab serif (also called mechanisticsquare serif or Egyptian) typeface is a type of serif typeface characterized by thick, block-like serifs. Serif terminals may be either blunt and angular (Rockwell), or rounded (Courier).

Slab serif typefaces generally have no bracket[1] (feature connecting the strokes to the serifs). Some people consider this type of typefaces as a sub-category of modern serif typefaces.

Source Wiki: Serif Typeface

Slab Serif typefaces are seldom used in body text, the only exception are the monospaced Slab Serifs, because of their usage in typewriters (although the usage of this is declining as electronic publishing has become more common). Another recent exception is the typeface designed for The Guardian newspaper in the UK which is an Egyptian used through the paper as body text.

In general, there are four subgroups of slab serif typefaces:

Clarendon model

Clarendon typefaces, unlike other slab serifs, actually have some bracketing and some contrast in size in the actual serif (stroke transition). Typeface examples of this model are: Clarendon and Egyptienne.

Neo-grotesque model

The Neo-grotesque[2] model is currently the most popular type of slab serif type, these typefaces have no bracketing and evenly weighted stems[3] and serifs. The letterforms are similar to neo-grotesque or realist sans-serif fonts. Examples include Rockwell and Memphis.

Italienne model

In the Italienne model, the serifs are even heavier than the stems, forging a dramatic, attention-drawing effect. Some Italienne slab serifs, such as Playbill, have a characteristic Western appearance, likely as a result of their frequent use in western-era posters.

Typewriter typefaces

Typewriter slab serif typefaces are named for their use in strike-on typewriting. These faces originated in monospaced format with fixed-width, meaning that every character takes up exactly the same amount of horizontal space. This feature is necessitated by the nature of the typewriter apparatus.

Examples include Courier and Courier New (both Neo-grotesque model) and Prestige Elite (Along with Courier, it was extremely popular for use in electric typewriters, especially the IBM Selectric. Unlike Courier, however, its popularity has not extended into the computer age).

Free Slab Serifs to Download

There are a lot of commercial Slab Serifs out there, and a lot of them are pure classic typefaces. You’ve already heard Clarendon and Rockwell, for me personally  2 of the most gorgeous Slab Serifs available! But typefaces like ITC Officina Serif, Archer, Chaparral, Ziggurat, PMN Caecilia, Lucida Fax and FF Unit Slab are great examples of other great commercial Slab Serifs.

The problem with free fonts is they’re always missing some character, style or symbol and some have really issues problems like the kerning (you know, around every ‘A’ and ‘Y’). But here are some beautifully designed and crafted free Slab Serif typefaces you can use in your commercial work and even some of these you can use on screen (by using @font-face, Cúfon or Typekit).

Nilland

This slab serif font is by Manfred Klein. Manfred’s fonts are free for private, charity use and for commercial use. The family consists of 6 weights, regular, bold, extra bold, black, small caps and small caps bold, making this typeface very useful as a corporate typeface.

Designed by: Manfred Klein

Download

AW Conqueror Slab

AW Conqueror Slab draws inspiration from geometrical slab serifs of the 1930s, of which Rockwell is a perfect example.. This slab serif font is part of the Conqueror free family of fonts designed by award-winning type designer, Jean François Porchez. The font family was inspired by the 60-70’s spirit. I have contacted AW Conqueror Paper because I really didn’t understand the EULA (licenses), their reply you can read here.

Designed by: Jean François Porchez

Download (registration required for more styles)

Hefty (regular)

This particular font called “Hefty Regular” was actually made as a copy-cat of the “Hellenic Wide” font. I’ve tried to do some research and figure out its origin but I didn’t have a lot of luck. Hefty has a distinct mid-century modern poster aesthetic that is almost cartoonish – I use this font in my Tumblr blog.

Designed by: Unknown

Download

Chunk

Chunk (Five) is an ultra-bold slab serif typeface that is reminiscent of old American Western woodcuts, broadsides, and newspaper headlines. Used mainly for display, the fat block lettering is unreserved yet refined for contemporary use. Chunk is bold & confident, set this type at larger sizes to maximize potential (exactly the reason why I use this font in my corporate website, see gonzodesign.nl).

Designed by: Meredith Mandel

Download

Adelle

Adelle Bold and Bold Italic can be downloaded free of charge at TypeTogether’s website. While Adelle is conceived specifically for intensive editorial use, its personality and flexibility make it a real multiple-purpose typeface. The intermediate weights deliver a very legible and neutral look when used in text sizes.

Designed by: Veronika Burian and José Scaglione

Download (registration required)

Museo

A well-designed Slab Serif made by Jos Buivenga, from the Dutch typefoundry exljbris. The use of Museo Slab has exploded in popularity, and with good reason – it’s a unique & usable typeface with character. Museo Slab 500 is a boxy and affectionate slab serif font.

Designed by: Jos Buivenga

Download

BodoniXT

Bodoni is invariably stylish, original, and designed by Manfred Klein. Manfred Klein looks at type as an essential part of visual communication, and that theme unifies his work. It gives his typefaces a unique cachet.

Designed by: Manfred Klein Fonteria

Download

Kontrapunkt

Kontrapunkt is an independent brand and design agency, that also developed a new slab serif called, .. Kontrapunkt (Who could have thought of that, brilliant name!). The aim was to develop a distinct font, with regards to both the inidividual character and the overall image as such. The typeface has so far been developed in a light, light italic and bold version.

design by: Bo Linnemann

Download

St Marie Thin

Sascha Timplan is a graphic and type designer based in Trier, Germany. Sascha wants to offer typefaces that are in some way unique and not blending in, but also classic typefaces. St Marie (thin version is for free) are glyphs with an elegant and playful character, there is also a @font-face variant that you can download.

Designed by: Sascha Timplan

Download (also web variant)

Mido

A medium-bold Egyptian face, Mido Medium (2007) is a contemporary font by Swedish designer Eva Wilsson Grinder. Taking inspiration from the delicate stems, leafs, and joints of plants and flowers, Eva’s goal with Mido was to create a typeface “with friendliness of the Egyptians but to eliminate the heaviness.”

Designed by: Eva Wilsson Grinder

Download

Typo Slab Serif

The Typo Slab Serif typeface wouldn’t be available without the great work of the Manfred Klein. A beautiful light slab serif typeface, and it’s one of the more condensed versions of the shown Slab Serifs.

Designed by: Manfred Klein Fonteria

Download

Nadia Serif

This serif typeface is available for free download; the only requirement for using it is to send a PDF or any other copy of the work using this typefaces to its designers. Designed by Switzerland-based graphic designer, Nadia Knechtle, Nadia Serif is a clean, thin but strong slab serif font.

Designed by: Nadia Knechtle

Download

Tertre Extra Bold

Tertre is a display/short text typeface with a wide range of applications from signage or posters to menus and pricelists; branding, packaging or publishing. The letters have no overhangs and the stroke thickness of capitals and lower case letters is identical, making hinting or anti-aliasing more uniform at any point size and zoom combination. Two weights, Extra Bold and Extra Bold Italic are available for free download and use.

Designed by: Paragraph (no link found)

Download

Fette Egyptienne

Beautiful bold slab serif typeface, just great for headtitles, gives a uber-vintage look. Combined with a nice serif and it’s pure magic. This free typeface is designed by the German Typographer Dieter Steffman.


Designed by: Dieter Steffmann

Download

Slab Tall X

And again a tall and condensed Slab Serif designed by Manfred Klein, very much like Typo Slab Serif (also from the same designer) only here the X-height is even taller.

Designed by: Manfred Klein

Download

Alexandria

Alexandria is a serif font typeface created by Hank Gillete. It corresponds to the neo-grotesque sub-classification.

Designed by: Hank Gillette (made also a copy-cat from Playbill Regular OT from fontshop)

Download

Conclusion

The possibility to upload free fonts on your website by using @font-face or Google API Fonts makes free fonts a great replacement for some of the commercial fonts. In an earlier article, The Best Free Typefaces (‘fontfamilies’), I already wrote about a couple of free fonts with a big(ger) typeface family, meaning more styles and weights you can use (even as a corporate typeface).

Free Fonts versus Commercial Fonts? The question which to use will always stay among graphic and web designers. But the possibility to have a choice in different styles, loads of characters and symbols extra and no (well, almost none) license issues means that you probably choose for a commercial typeface? What’s your opinion about this, I’ld love to hear it ..

Footnotes

[1] ~ The bracket (also known as fillet) is a curved or wedge-like connection between the stem and serif of some fonts. Brackets can have different shapes with deep or gentle curves. Brackets may taper all the way to the end of the serif or attach at a midpoint before the serif ends.

[2] ~ Lineale typefaces , they have less stroke contrast and are more regular in design

[3] ~ Not all letters have a stem, such as C or S. The vertical, non-curved portions of L, l, d, B, and p are examples of stems. H, N, and M have two stems each. Some letterforms such as y and A may have a sloped or diagonal stem.

 

Author: Jan Rajtoral

Jan Rajtoral AKA Gonzo the Great is the Founder of and Designer at gonzodesign, providing design services across the full spectrum of Brand Identity, Graphic Design, Print and Advertising Design & Website Design.

27 comments

on this article: “Free Fonts: Slab Serif Typefaces”
  1. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I do not know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already ;) Cheers!

    • Hi Kristofer,

      I hope you’ve got this site bookmarked from now, so you can find me easily next time ;-P Thanks for the compliment, but I’m still waiting to be a famous blogger, haha!

      Hope to see you a next time? Cheers & Ciao ..

  2. Kudos for posting this sort of useful weblog. Your internet site isn’t only informative and also very artistic too. You can find typically very several individuals that can write less than simple articles that creatively. Retain the favorable writing !!

  3. I’ve been looking around the web taking a look at site designs, when I ran across this website. I like your theme, did you buy or modify this theme? I have a site also and my theme appears kinda poor as a result people do not stay on my site very long.

    • Hi Orpha,

      Thanks for commenting, much appreciated .. I made this site completely out of scratch, I handcoded, tweaked and pushed some pixels around ;-P This theme is a result of this last year, where I redesigned my theme and still am BTW. But I’m thinking of making another theme for the gonzoblog.nl (when I’ll have some spare time?). This current theme will then be divided in 2 sorts: a free theme and a premium theme (the one you see here).

      So stay tuned, Cheers & Ciao ..

  4. These are great fonts! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Hi website design,

    Thanks man, really appreciate it! Cheers & Ciao ..

  6. Very good blog post we have to spread the word about this site.You deserve to have a lot more attention .

  7. Hi Carisa,

    first of all sorry for my late respons, been busy doing other things during these blessed days ;-P

    Thanks for your comment, I’ll just keep on doing the things I do, okay?

    Hi hitadori,

    Thank you soooooo much for your comment! You also have hit the nail on the head, haha, cause I think a blog should not only be entertaining but also educative!

    It’s so easy to only put in just some fonts and pictures into a post, .. and no extra information at all! Not even credits for the designers of these types, I find that very strange?

    Probably those other blogs need to post articles for their pageviews and number of visits to get some advertisement on their blog? Ads may never be a reason to post an article, not if you want to have a quality blog!

    Thank you both for your sweet comments and of course the best wishes for 2011! Cheers & Ciao ..

  8. Hi Joel,

    Chunk5 is one of my favorites (because it has a lot Rockwell in it, and Rockwell is my absolute favorite Slab Serif!), that’s why I have used it in my corporate website for the titles/headings.

    The Museo-family is a gorgeous and well-designed set of typefaces (by one of my favorite type-designers, our Dutch Jos Buivenga), but my problem with it is that it’s overused on the internet .. The new arial of the web ;-P

    I hope you’ll enjoy the ‘new’ ones, let me know, okay? Thanks again for your comment, Cheers & Ciao ..

    P.S.: in the new year you can expect the articles about the sans-serif, script and decorative/exotic typefaces. So stay tuned ..!

  9. Jan, another great collection of typefaces. I have a book on press right now with the jacket in Chunk5 and it’s gorgeous. Also using Museo Slab quite a bit, but there are several here new to me, thanks!
    .-= Joel Friedlander´s last blog ..New- Self-Publisher’s Quick &amp Easy Guides =-.

  10. Hi Nicole,

    thanks for sharing this font-site, and all free download! I know my readers LOVE this link, cheers!

    BTW: I’ll be checking that site for my upcoming articles about the ‘other’ typeface categories!

    .. and a warm Cheers & Ciao to you!

  11. Are you looking for some great collection of free fonts?
    Here you can explore and Download Free Fonts for Windows and Mac OS.

  12. Hi JPop,

    thanks for commenting, nice to know I have returning visitors ;-P

    Stay tuned, cause there will be more free-font-series here on the gonzoblog.

    Cheers mate, ciao ..

  13. Great fonts! Thanks for all those free resources :D
    .-= JPop´s last blog ..Hitomi Shimatani – Shirou muno no You ni =-.

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