On a personal and professional level, I find Google Fonts to be a valuable and useful resource for finding the best fonts and font pairings for my projects. This post covers my top five favorite sans serif font families provided by Google Fonts. These picks are based on readability, design, styles, and versatility.
Kicking off this list is Exo 2, a complete redrawing of its original font, Exo, designed by Natanael Gama. Exo 2 is a geometric sans serif typeface that focuses on keeping a relatively square shape for each of its characters. According to the designer, Exo 2 is meant to try to convey a technological and futuristic feeling while keeping elegance in its organic design.
Exo 2 has a wide amount of versatility; it can be used in paragraph and header form with equal effectiveness. It supports Latin and Cyrillic languages. It also contains nine different weights (Thin, Extra-Light, Light, Regular, Medium, Semi-Bold, Bold, Extra-Bold, and Black), with an italic variant for each, giving a total of eighteen different styles.
Roboto, designed by Christian Robertson, is known for being the main UI system font for many Google’s applications and the Android operating system. It is currently the most popular web font used on Google Fonts, and for good reason.
“Roboto has a dual nature. It has a mechanical skeleton and the forms are largely geometric. At the same time, the font features friendly and open curves. While some grotesks distort their letterforms to force a rigid rhythm, Roboto doesn’t compromise, allowing letters to be settled into their natural width. This makes for a more natural reading rhythm more commonly found in humanist and serif types.”
– About section from Google Fonts
In 2014, the Roboto font was given a transformation, addressing many issues with the original version, and giving the entire typeface a less serious and more relaxed feel. The image below clarifies how the font was transformed. Blue strokes represent the original fonts while red represents the transformed. The most distinctive letter changes are the letters ‘K’, ‘R’, ‘i’, and ‘j.’
Roboto works extremely well in paragraph and header form, and is versatile with other font families. It supports Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, and Vietnamese languages. Roboto also contains six different font weights (Thin, Light, Regular, Medium, Bold, and Black), with an italic variant for each, giving a total of twelve different styles.
Libre Franklin, according to the designer, Pablo Impallari, is an interpretation and expansion of Franklin Gothic, designed and released in 1903 by Morris Fuller Benton. This revival font proves that typefaces that have been used throughout history can not only live forever, but can be improved in design and functionality. Libre Franklin, like Franklin Gothic, works extremely well in paragraph and header form, and is versatile with other font families.
Currently, it only supports Latin languages, but contains nine different weights (Thin, Extra-Light, Light, Regular, Medium, Semi-Bold, Bold, Extra-Bold, and Black), with an italic variant for each, giving a total of eighteen different styles.
Open Sans, created by veteran designer Steve Matteson, is currently the 2nd most popular typeface provided by Google Fonts. Its design gives friendly, neutral, but tight-stressed character faces that are extremely distinguishable and legible with one another. Open Sans is optimized for print, web, and mobile interfaces, and is also popular in flat art design.
In web design, Open Sans served as the UI font for WordPress, the most popular content management system for creating websites, including this one. However, it has been relinquished in WordPress 4.6, released in August 16, 2016, in favor of native fonts used in operating systems.
Open Sans supports the Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, and Vietnamese languages. It contains five different weights (Light, Regular, Semi-Bold, Bold, and Extra-Bold), with an italic variant of each. On top of that, it also contains three condensed forms (Light, Light Italic, and Bold), giving a total of thirteen different styles.
Raleway, initially designed by Matt McInerney, expanded by Pablo Impallari, Rodrigo Fuenzalida, and Igino Marini, is an elegant, geometric sans-serif font that was initially intended for headers and large size usage. However, it has proved to be one of the most versatile families in the entire Google Fonts library, being paired with itself and other sans-serif, serif, display, and handwritten fonts. Raleway is also the main font family used in this website!
Raleway currently only supports Latin languages, but it also contains nine different weights (Thin, Extra-Light, Light, Regular, Medium, Semi-Bold, Bold, Extra-Bold, and Black), giving a total of eighteen different styles. A display variant, Raleway Dots, can also be found on Google Fonts.
Thanks for reading!