What is the best way to find an open source alternative to a commercial font? I was thinking as some service as alternativeto.net or a whatthefont.com that would spit out fonts that are similar to the one uploaded.

For example: What is the open source font that looks most similar to Scala Sans? (see picture) What would be the criteria and tools to identify similarity?enter image description here

  • Do you mind if I use this question in regards to why we should have a typography board? This question is a perfect example.
    – user9447
    Mar 14, 2013 at 15:14
  • @graphicsman Sure, go ahead!
    – mcbetz
    Mar 14, 2013 at 15:54
  • 2
    @graphicsman isn't typography an essential component of graphic design?
    – DA01
    Mar 14, 2013 at 19:27
  • It is but it can be it's own entity. Graphic Design is also essential for web design and app development but we have dedicated areas for those so why not typography?
    – user9447
    Mar 14, 2013 at 19:35
  • 2
    @graphicsman This has been discussed many times before. The typography proposal was dismissed by SE because all of their questions overlapped with GD. For some reason, those interested in the first site don't come to this one, where there are plenty of questions to be answered. We seem to be stuck in beta because we don't have enough activity. Dividing this site into smaller pieces will only make each piece weaker. Yes, in theory there could be a site for every subject, but if those sites have 2/3 questions a day they won't succeed.
    – Yisela
    Mar 14, 2013 at 19:53

5 Answers 5


Whatfontis.com is an alternative to whatthefont.com, but you have the option to just display free fonts.

However, when uploading my example, I could not find anything suitable.

A manually found alternative, in my opinion, would be Source Sans Pro, Semibold. As the width differs, I tweaked kerning manually:

enter image description here

  • That site is a pain to use, but it helped :)
    – cytofu
    Sep 3, 2014 at 1:03

I use alternatype.net it shows the most similar fonts to a commercial one from Google Fonts and Font Squirrel. The database is not too big but I think the project is growing everyday.


The best way to find fonts right now is to ask people who know. I'm not aware of a service; any font-identification service is typically created to drive sales, so there's not really an incentive to make version that drives you to FOSS typography.

So, you're in the right place :) Font identification happens often here, and there are a lot of people who can make font recommendations.

I'm not the best at this sort of thing, but when I saw the 'u', the 'n', and the proportions of Scala, I immediately thought of Junction, by the League of Moveable Type:

Screenshot of Junction

It's certainly different and there is no bold variant yet, but it might serve your purposes well enough.


Here is a good resource for open source fonts.



I use dafont . IT's nice, organised and has commercial and free fonts.

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