written by: Thursday Bram•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 8/2/2009
Stencil fonts can add a certain feeling to a desktop publishing project: depending on just what typeface you choose, a stencil font can either make your project look very official or entirely the opposite. There are hundreds of free stencil fonts available, but these four can give you a good start.
slide 1 of 9
slide 2 of 9
When it comes to official stencils, no one does it better than the Army. The Army font actually is available in ten different varieties, in such options as outlined, thin and bold versions. Each of these different versions is a complete typeface: They provide only capital letters — not unexpectedly in a stencil — but each one has a full set of symbols and even accented letters. This stencil font can be used to create an official feel to a document, with crisp clean letters that are easy to read.
slide 3 of 9
slide 4 of 9
Boston Traffic is a slightly distressed font, meaning that it has purposely been made to appear distorted — just as letters stenciled on a wall might be. Over all the font is fairly easy to read, giving the feeling of a renegade stenciling words wherever he pleases. However, both the appearance of the letters and the limited character set of the font (it offers only letters, numerals and a few punctuation marks) mean that it is primarily useful for headlines and other short pieces of text.
slide 5 of 9
slide 6 of 9
With Barrio 30, you can recreate the feeling of graffiti stencils along with a certain rebel attitude. The letters are more rounded than many stencil fonts, and they are distressed in such a way as to appear spray-painted on to your document. The typeface is somewhat limited, offering upper case letters and numerals with just a handful of punctuation marks. However, you would generally not rely on Barrio 30 for larger pieces of text simply because it would be harder to read more than a line at a time set in this font.
slide 7 of 9
slide 8 of 9
If you need to make sure your readers understand the sensitive nature of your project, Top Secret is a perfect font for you. The typeface comes not only the standard letters and numerals but also a fairly complete symbol set. With this font, you can create an official-looking document, giving a certain governmental feeling to your desktop publishing projects.
slide 9 of 9
More Stencil Fonts
Many font directories set aside a full category of stencil fonts. Some may also refer to this group of fonts as army fonts. Dafont, a particularly extensive font database, uses both terms and lists approximately 100 stencil fonts. If you don't find what you're looking for in this list, Dafont may have something that fits your project better.