Among the typefaces, some are really popular by designers, and some are used extensively in everyday documents. Arial is a commercial font which fits in the second group. Although you need to pay for it to be able to use all the weights and styles which Arial covers, but here you can download typefaces which are almost identical to Arial for free. These Arial-alternatives have been used to write the word “Arial” in the above image and also the famous “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” sentence in the image below to make the comparison easier. I should warn you though, because of the similarities between Arial and these typefaces, it would be hard to pick a favorite! If you are interested to know a little bit more about Arial, read on, otherwise go to the bottom of the page for the download links.
Arial is a Sans Serif font which was designed in 1982 by a team under supervision of Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders for Monotype Typography. The original purpose for creating Arial was to be used in IBM’s early laser printers as part of a contract between the two companies. A few years later, Microsoft chose Arial to be included in their Windows 3.1 operating system. Some of the styles of Arial have been part of Windows software package since then. Some styles have been bundled with Apple computers as well. As you can imagine, because of this Arial is one of the most widespread fonts ever. It is available on more than a billion computers. It should be noted that, just a few of many Arial weights and styles come as part of operating systems. Arial covers weights from light to black and everything in between. It comprises regular and italic slopes for all the weights as well. The widespread styles of Arial include regular, narrow, bold and black for both normal and italicized version and not the whole font family.
Many think of Arial as a clone of Helvetica typeface. If you look at the two typefaces side by side, it is hard to find any differences between them, unless written in large font sizes. Although from the beginning Arial was designed to be a descent competitor for the ever popular Helvetica, but their origins are different. Arial was designed base on Monotype Grotesque. Helvetica on the other hand is inspired by Akzidenz Grotesk. With a closer look at all of the Arial glyphs in general and ‘R’, ‘a’,‘t’, and ‘G’ in particular, it can be observed that Arial letters are generally more rounded and the horizontal end strokes seen in Helvetica are replaced by strokes with a softer angle in Arial.
The fonts introduced here are all well designed typefaces. Bitstream Vera Sans has normal bold and italic variations and is developed by Bitstream Inc. Liberation Sans is developed by Ascender Corp. and is published and used by Red Hat. Swansea is designed by by Roger White and like Bitstream comes in four different variations. Tex Gyre Heros is a property of Gust Group. The family includes eight variations. All of these typeface families are in public domain but Swansea which is only free for personal use. Before using the fonts, please read the included license files.