12 Google Web Font Alternatives to Helvetica.

Written by on Monday, July 2nd, 2012 in Fonts, Techniques.

As Google Web Fonts continues to grow the range of fonts is getting better and better. It continues to be my tool of choice when it comes to web fonts mainly because it is free but also because it is so easy to use. I may try Typekit in the future but for the time being I’m very happy!

There have been a number of posts related to Google Web Fonts recently but I thought I’d put together a collection of my personal favourites that I like to use instead of Helvetica.

Here are a few links to posts or websites I’ve enjoyed recently:

If you haven’t used Google Web Fonts before, now is the perfect time as they just surpassed 500 600 which is pretty sweet for a free service.

Thanks to Sacha Greif’s article(s) I was able to stumble across Soma Design’s collection of Google Web Font Families which currently displays 167 font families within Google Web Fonts!





Droid Sans



Open Sans


PT Sans

Quattrocento Sans


Since I wrote this post there have been more than a hundred additions to the Google Web Font Library so here are some more alternatives to Helvetica for the web!

Source Sans Pro

Source Sans Pro





Average Sans

Average Sans



Have I missed any that you think should be in here? Let me know in the comments below :)

  • Laura

    Thanks for these Alex! I agree, this has to be the best free font resource around! I especially have a thing for Droid Sans and Muli :-)

  • russoland

    Great post.
    Thanks for your tips. I put all this kiand of types on a site, and the combination was fantastic!
    Helvetica it´s the best type for me, but…


  • Vit Brunner

    They’re nice fonts, sure. But how do they relate to Helvetica?

    • Alex Leeson-Brown

      They’re just alternatives that I recommend in place of Helvetica when you want to use something a little different!

  • Sukoi Nga

    You cannot really go past Helvetica. Helvetica or a very close approximation is built into every user’s browser with no need to download anything.

    You might not be aware of some privacy implications of using Google Web Fonts. By using a Google Web Fonts font, you are unknowingly leaking information back to Google (leaking the referrer url (the page url the user is on) and the user’s IP address). Google then forwards the referrer information into their crawler. In many circumstances this is fine and helps get a page crawled. However, stop and think about your client’s privacy. What if you are developing a private web for a client. You don’t want to have Google index the pages on your client’s lprivate network.

    You had better make sure that any private page on which you are deploying the Google Web Fonts is secure (password protected) otherwise Google will crawl it.

    • Alex Leeson-Brown

      As the title suggests, they’ve just fonts that I recommend that people could use in place on Helvetica if you’d like to use something a little different.

      I did know about the crawling but thankfully none of my clients sites are private so that’s not an issue but I’ll definitely add a note to the blog post letting people know. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

    • Coupdag

      However, google cannot index private protected websites, unless no password is granted. So if you are using private websites, remember to do so.

    • krolholio

      Sorry, but Helvetica doesn’t render correctly in Google products (Drive, and you can’t even get it to gmail).

    • Martin

      I can’t see any problem with privacy. You can also download the font-package and include it directly on your server.

    • Christian Cruz

      Nonsense: a site MUST use Google Analitycs to be seen anyway

      • Nerdly

        Rubbish. There’s absolutely no need to use GA “to be seen”. You use GA to *measure analytical data from your site*. Stop spreading false information.

  • Home Design Ideas

    thanks so much

  • Sarah

    What font have you used for your headings? Thanks!

    • Resource Guru

      font-family: ‘Montserrat’,”Helvetica Neue”,”Helvetica”,Arial,Verdana,sans-serif;

  • 00gpowe

    not helvetica at all. you disapoint me

    • webx

      what an AH!

      • 00gpowe

        truth hurts doesn’t it, webx? You are lonely aren’t you?

  • Arva Larva

    Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you. We are saved!

  • Elmo Allén

    Chivo. Very good alternative. Same grotesque shapes, but the endings to a bit further down the curve (see e.g. ‘r’). This one is much much closer than any of those listed above. For instance, Lato is much closer to Gill Sans than Helvetica, and Varela is obvious Verdana copycat. And e.g. Abezee is very far away from Helvetica’s design, although it belongs to the same classification.