Free Font Alternatives to Times New Roman for Commercial Use

While most graphic designers hate Times New Roman because they consider it dull and dated, a lot of readers and writers love its simplicity and readability. Whether you’re publishing a 300,000-page book or need to fit a lot of information into a tri-fold brochure, sometimes a project calls for a classy but compact font. But, despite its ubiquity, Times New Roman is copyrighted. In most instances, if you are using a full version (i.e., not the student or “home use” editions) of Microsoft Word, you can use Times New Roman in any project, including commercial. (I’m not a lawyer, so don’t quote me on this.) But that’s not the case if you use other software such as Affinity Publisher or Canva that doesn’t come bundled with a font license.

The usual suggestions are to use one of the many serif alternatives available, such as Crimson, EB Garamond, Heuristica, Linux Libertine, or PT Serif, each of which is quite similar to Times New Roman. (Why Times New Roman is boring but these are refreshing is beyond me.) These are all good fonts and solid choices, but three other fonts – Nimbus Roman No9 L, TeX Gyre Termes, and Tinos – imitate Times New Roman much more closely. Nimbus Roman No9 L is the most similar stylistically, and all three are metrically compatible, meaning that when you switch between them, the position of a document’s text does not change. (In the sample PDF, the font is 12pt and the leading/line spacing is 14pt.) They are one-hundred-percent free for use in any personal or commercial project and can be downloaded from Font Squirrel, which has hundreds of other freeware fonts.

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