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cartographic fonts

10 Best Cartographic Fonts (Expert Picks)

Making maps entail a well-thought-out list of options for cartographic fonts.

It seems simple, but this decision is all too important.

Fonts will tie your whole design together, not to mention, give your map its usefulness because of legible labels.

That’s why we scoured the internet looking to create a comprehensive list of cartographic fonts for novice and experienced cartographers alike.

We have narrowed it down to ten typefaces that will hopefully cover all the needs of map makers.

The fonts we curated would be perfect for map labels and notes.

The second half of the list will consist of free-to-download fonts for cartographers on a budget or people looking to dabble into map making.

However, please keep in mind that though half of these fonts are free for personal use, they may have a licensing cost associated with them.

Licenses are needed if you want to use them for your business or anything commercial.

That being said, we recommend every one of these fonts, and we hope that you’ll find one for your use.


1. Cartograph CF

cartographic font

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The type design studio Connary Fagen created this font.

This foundry has 16 carefully crafted amazing-looking fonts.

Each font has its unique flair and ability to stand out.

Cartograph CF is perfect for that sleek, modern feel text or product with its warm design and simple yet elegant look.

Its distinct italics, which almost look like an entirely different font, can provide enough variety to a design. 

This type of font is seen all over cities.

You will find it in trendy restaurants or bars.

This font is surely suitable for a map.

You can imagine the directions placed on an ad, put in a subway or bus, or even billboards, letting prospective customers know how to get to a place of business. 

This font boasts eight different weights, mono and proportional sets.

It provides support for Latin, Cyrillic, Greek, and many others.

It includes 850 glyphs and is continually updated.

Pros & Benefits:

  • True, expressive italics
  • Provides a considerable amount of versatility with 850 glyphs
  • Offers a clean, modern look that draws the eye and fits in a wide variety of designs
  • Free, continuous updates and additional features
  • Available in an enormous 16 different styles, giving you a sea of choices for your project

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2. Geographica

cartographic fonts

 

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The group, Three Islands Press, crafted this font.

This group specializes in quality historical replicas, ancient map fonts, and recreating modern and old handwriting styles.

The 1700’s maps made by several notable figures, including King George III’s cartographer Thomas Jefferys and Emanuel Brown, inspired this font.

This font takes special care to appear as organic and accurate as possible, featuring long serifs and irregular lines.

Whether you’re a game designer needing that handwritten look to tie your world map together, a themed restaurant owner looking to have an authentic-looking map made for your wall, or just a history aficionado, Geographica has you covered.

This Opentype font comes in 3 styles, Regular, Italic, and our personal favorite: Hand regular.

It supports multiple languages, including all eastern, western, and central European languages.

It offers 898 glyphs.

Pros & Benefits:

  • Carefully and meticulously researched for maximum authenticity
  • Available in three different styles to best fit your needs
  • Includes hand-drawn ornaments, including windmills, trees, churches, boats, and more to decorate your map
  • Has over 900 glyphs, the highest count on this list

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3. Carved in Stone

cartographic fonts

 

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The first typeface comes to us from BurrowsArts.

It’s a relative outsider to the font industry, specializing in stickers and various products aimed at RPG fans and DnD players. 

This fresh perspective has led to some pretty unique font designs, one of them being Carved in Stone.

As the name implies, this unique handwritten font conveys the look of text being forcefully carved into a hard surface.

Its jagged edges and purposeful messiness help convey that feeling.

Despite this, it remains easy to read and aesthetically pleasing.

Carved in Stone is perfect for that “crude” look.

This font suits a project that involves a primitive community.

Alternatively, you can use it to map out an area with a cave in the vicinity.

Moreover, brave adventurers who need to plan out their trek in a primitive forest will find this an apt font.

Regarding technical features, the font’s creators do not share many details that we could find. 

We can deduce, however, that it supports all primary Latin characters at the very least.

Pros & Benefits:

  • Cheap price tag as compared to other fonts on the market
  • Created by designers from outside the usual background, resulting in a lovely unconventional look
  • Made especially for roleplaying fans
  • Very clear, easy to read letters, despite the eccentric style

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4. Show Card Stencil JNL

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Number four on our list is a font from Florida-based designer Jeff Levine, responsible for over 1700 imaginative fonts. 

He’s been creating them ever since grade school and doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.

Coming back from our quick trip to the past (though we’ll be going back soon), this modern, clean, and easy-to-read all-caps font transmits a subtle uneasiness to the reader, the gaps between “strokes” giving it that convincing sprayed on look.

This unique stencil-based typeface would feel right at home on a WARNING label or DANGER sign. 

Still, we feel this could easily translate to an exciting infographic map warning against certain practices or areas in a given country or city.

Show Card Stencil JNL, an OpenType font, comes in 2 variations, Regular and Oblique, each with 213 characters and supporting Latin-based languages.

Pros & Benefits:

  • Clean, professional, easy to read design
  • Supports all of the primary Latin-based languages
  • Available in two versions to suit your needs or to add variation to your design
  • Made by a trusted veteran in the industry

 

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5. Antique Show Card JNL

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Right spot in the middle of our list, we have one more installment from Jeff Levine’s enormous arsenal of 1700+ designs from the same series.

 In contrast to the previous font, this one has a softer, more casual, rounded look. 

However, it’s still equally or more easy to understand and fits a wider variety of designs.

This kind of font works excellent with simplistic map designs. 

It can be viewed as the older sibling to number five on our list, Fountain Avenue.

Antique Show Card JNL is perfect for labeling your map when you’re going for function over form (not to say this font isn’t pretty in its own right) and isn’t going for any particular theme.

Like the other Jeff Levine font we just reviewed, this one comes in 2 variations, Regular and Oblique, each with 213 characters, and supports the basic Latin characters.

Pros & Benefits:

  • Simple, neutral font for any map
  • Very easy on the eyes and comfortable to read
  • Available in two different styles to accommodate your tastes
  • Made by a trusted veteran in the industry

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6. Kentucky Fireplace

cartographic fonts

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We have a different hand-drawn font at number six.

Cumberland Fontworks crafted this font.

It’s a firm that has designed nearly 90 unique free-to-use fonts in a wide range of styles since 1999.

As the name suggests, this typeface screams warm

Just looking at it transports us to a cozy inn, next to a crackling fire, with a blanket over our legs, lute-playing softly in the background.

As stated by its designer, Kentucky Fireplace was made for fantasy, be it for your videogame’s world map or to spice up your next Dungeons and Dragons campaign. 

This font is an excellent choice for labels, footnotes, or whatever you may need.

That being said, we think this font has excellent potential for use in a rustic-looking map, perhaps of a National or State Park, labeling the significant points of interest within, or even for mapping out a zoo and marking each animal exhibit.

This typeface is available in either Truetype, with 104 glyphs and 108 characters, or Postscript, with 108 glyphs and 107 characters, and supports 24 languages.

Pros & Benefits:

  • Stylized yet readable
  • Free to download
  • Available in both Truetype and Postscript

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7. Fountain Avenue

cartographic fonts

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Our font for lucky spot number seven is from Cumberland Fontworks.

It is another handwritten style.

This font transmits a hastily drawn, non-professional feeling that we also need.

Crafted for the more casual map, Fountain Avenue is more geared towards kids. Picture kids mapping out their neighborhood or doing an activity in their exercise book.

Expanding on this, it has an easy on the eyes design.

It could work very well on a map for a theme park, a water park, or any similarly large recreation center that would require a map.

This font has all your basic needs covered with its good 108 glyphs and 113 characters, available in all primary Latin-based languages.

Pros & Benefits:

  • Sets itself apart from other fonts on the list, with its simplistic yet charming look
  • Very easy to read
  • Free to download
  • Perfect for keeping the attention of kids
  • Offers future updates

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8. Treasure Map

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Ahoy!

The first thing people think of when mentioning a map is pirates.

The eighth font on our list by JoannaVu aims to capture that look.

Since 2017, she has designed 71 free-to-use fonts, most of them being based on popular media.

The font has an appealing design, combining sharp and curved shapes with irregular lines that transmit a handwritten look.

As is probably apparent, Treasure Map is excellent for… well, treasure maps.

This font is perfect whether you’re:

  • Developing the next big pirate video game
  • Planning a big family or office scavenger hunt
  • Finishing your pirate board game or a historical art piece

This typeface is one great option for marking those all too important landmarks.

This Opentype font comes in a medium style, with a simplistic 84 characters and 82 glyphs, and supporting 24 languages, all Latin-based.

Pros & Benefits:

  • Free to download for personal (noncommercial) use.
  • Perfect for pirate-themed games, physical or digital
  • Supports 24 Latin based languages

 

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9. BlackPearl

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Can you tell we like pirates? 

Going hand-in-hand with number eight and also made by JoannaVu, this alternate “pirate font” sports a slightly different look.

The font reminds you of the posters of the exciting Disney film Pirates of the Caribbean. 

This font goes further than the previous entry on our list in stylizing and deforming the letters, making certain letters larger than others, and using more curved serifs that, in our opinion, depicts the famous media depiction of pirates quite well.

Not quite going for realism? 

Is Treasure Map not quite your cup of tea?

We have you covered. 

That’s precisely why we had to include Black Pearl for a more “cartoony,” or closer to Hollywood option to consider.

Of course, this font is still aimed at the same groups of people as number eight.

But Black Pearl’s close resemblance to the font used in the popular Disney film’s title makes it inherently more aimed towards children’s toys or room decorations.

With 104 glyphs and 108 characters, Black Pearl gives you slightly more options than its predecessor, supporting 24 languages.

Pros & Benefits:

  • Free to download and use non commercially
  • A more exaggerated alternative to Treasure Map, if that wasn’t pirate-y enough for you
  • Perfect for Pirates of the Caribbean-themed wall art for your children (or you!)

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10. Brausepulver

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And last but not necessarily least is Peter Wiegel’s font Brausepulver.

It’s one of the 110 fonts he has designed.

He’s a seasoned designer active since 2003, responsible for a great variety of fantastic, elegant-looking typefaces.

Brausepulver has a charming, fancy design, with long, curly serifs. 

You can practically smell the ink from the classical cartographer’s plume as he works in his well-furnished workshop. 

This fanciness may turn off some in that this is probably the least immediately easy to read font on the list. 

Still, we wanted as broad a representation of possible cartographic fonts as we could, and this, we feel, is just readable enough to fit great in a map.

A bit similar to Geographica, albeit trying to be more sophisticated, this typeface is great for creating the Classical era feel in maps.

This font is best for short descriptions or footnotes or even labels in maps.

With 219 glyphs and 217 characters, this TrueType font grants you all the options most people would ever need in 48 different supported languages.

Pros & Benefits:

  • Free to download
  • Almost 50 supported languages
  • Very appealing, refined design

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Final Thoughts

Choosing fonts can often be an unexpectedly stressful process. 

Our goal in writing this list is to offer you great fonts to use for your map or guide you into the thought process you should use when selecting one.

Keep in mind this list was not in any particular order, beyond separating free and paid fonts, but having said that, we aren’t entirely without bias or preference.

My personal favorite out of these 10 is Geographica (though Cartograph CF is a close second). 

When I think of a map, what pops in my mind contains almost precisely the lettering that Three Island Press has.

You can’t beat the hard work that went into making it as historically accurate and organic as possible.

Beyond aesthetics, Geographica also has the most technical effort put into it.

However, Cartograph CF is a very close contender or, even better, with many unique glyphs and different styles available.

Do you agree with us?

Let us know down below what your personal favorite is.

No matter your cartography goals, we hope our list helped you at least a bit to make this often overlooked decision.

If you are happening to pass by, we hope you found a new cartographic font to use from our list!

For more helpful articles, do check our list below.

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