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When I typeset text, I love to be able to choose from a large array of different weights (and, if possible, expansions). Having light and semi-bold variants in addition to the regular and bold weights really help broaden one's choices for setting type elegantly. For long-running text, I am quite partial to old-style serifs, and to Arno Pro and Minion Pro in particular.

However, those two are commercial fonts. I am thus looking for a good set of free old-style serif fonts including three or four weights. (Free as is free beer or free speech, I'm trying not to set the bar too high!).

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"freely available" is the sticker. Most type designers won't do all that work and then give it away. :) –  Scott Dec 3 '12 at 0:11
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@Skaught I know, but there is a growing number of available such fonts… and at least one (Libertine) has multiple weights –  F'x Dec 3 '12 at 7:04

4 Answers 4

DaFont.com has many free fonts, and will list by category. For example, all the serif fonts are at:

http://www.dafont.com/theme.php?cat=502

From there, you can list only the free ones by clicking "more options" in the bar between "Basic>Serif" and the actual fonts, and checking the appropriate boxes.

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From there, finding one with many weights is a matter of trial and error. You're going to have to download a handful and see. –  baudot Dec 2 '12 at 20:48
    
Regarding weights, I scrolled over 30 fonts and only found 1 that matches my criteria: Linux Libertine :( –  F'x Dec 2 '12 at 20:53

Some other sources of free (and sometimes good) fonts:

http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/ and http://www.searchfreefonts.com/

Few examples: ALEGREYA, CARDO, CAUDEX, CRIMSON ...

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Check out Merriweather on Google's webfonts. It is not strictly "old style" in the Venetian/Garalde tradition but I think it will do what you're after.

Obviously, you can use it for web, but you can also download for comps and print work. It is not a thoroughly programmed OpenType font like you would expect when handing over cash but you're not handing over cash.

For the price, you will not find a finer piece of type design.

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Metafont is Donald Knuth's font description language supporting obscene numbers of parameters, including multiple weights ("asking an artist to become enough of a mathematician to understand how to write a font with 60 parameters is too much"). The most-widely-used Metafont font is Computer Modern, which, unsurprisingly, is Modern rather than old-style.

However, there are apparently some old-style Metafont fonts available. Looking through one old list (1997), I see one called Pandora described as "a little like Palatino", which is old-style. More information on this font: CTAN, LaTeX font catalogue.

See also http://www.math.utah.edu/~beebe/fonts/metafont.html, which lists some Metafont fonts, and the LaTeX font catalogue list of fonts (most probably not Metafont).


Gentium is definitely old-style, and its Gentium Basic variant comes in 4 weights (regular, book, bold, book bold), where the Book weights are slightly heavier:

Gentium Basic Gentium Book Basic

The Basic fonts have a reduced character repertoire, but the project plans to support book weights for the entire font:

The main Gentium family will eventually have a complete matching Book weight, along with matching italics.

Our next major effort is completing bold and bold italic weights of Gentium Plus alongside a new Gentium Book Plus family. These new weights are currently available for Gentium Basic/Gentium Book Basic.")

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