Most people I know are content to use the fonts that came with their computer, and thus the ubiquity of Times and Verdana. Occasionally you come across a Mac user who cannot let go of Palatino. There are people, like me, who can’t quite seem to give up Helvetica, which I use on this blog if only because one can be fairly certain that almost every computer in the world has it or the Microsoft equivalent, Arial.
Most Macs also come with a few nice looking faces like Gil Sans, Hoefler, and Garamond. Over the years, I have also invested in a few faces that I regard as basic: Adobe’s Minion Pro, for a change of serif face, and Myriad Pro, because it is a nice sans serif alternative to Helvetica and is in widespread use on signs and diagrams: people respond to it well.
Too many people I know take type faces for granted or, perhaps worse, don’t realize that type faces are not necessarily to be shared liberally. There is a way around this: acquire and use quality free type faces. And since you asked, I do have some recommendations:
* **[Gentium][gt]** is an open source font — using something called the SIL license — that allows for a wide range of uses, including commercial applications, that comes in both a a face that contains a full range of glyphs as well as *Gentium Basic* which has the most commonly used glyphs found in Western European alphabets. There is also a slightly heavier version of the latter, *Gentium Basic Book*. Download it. Use it.
* Another open source font collection is **[Bitstream’s Vera][bv]**. It comes with a full range of faces, including a monospaced face that I use on my Macs while working in Textmate. Here’s the Bitstream sampler graphic:
Bitstream’s Sampler of the Open Source Vera Type Face
In addition to these, what I could consider *core*, faces, I also recommend checking out the following sites or pages:
* *Smashing Magazine’s* list of [free quality fonts](http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2006/10/11/17-more-free-quality-fonts/).
* Web Developer Vitaly Friedman’s list of [25 free best quality fonts](http://www.alvit.de/blog/article/20-best-license-free-official-fonts).
* [The Font Diner](http://www.fontdiner.com/) has a number of free fonts as well as great deals on a few collections.
And, of course, you can always [make your own free font](http://www.yourfonts.com/complete.html).