Charter was designed by Matthew Carter in 1987 as a body text font that would hold up well on low-resolution output devices of the day—fax machines and 300 dpi laser printers.
Though 300 dpi printing is long gone, most of today’s computer displays operate far below 300 dpi. Charter, unsurprisingly, holds up admirably well as a screen font. (Matthew would go on to design the quintessential screen fonts Verdana and Georgia for Microsoft.)
In 1992, Bitstream contributed PostScript versions of the basic Charter family to the X Consortium. These original files are still available and can be freely downloaded and modified. But they can be hard to find. So I tracked them down and converted them into a new package of OTFs, TTFs, and webfonts.
Why? Because Charter is a great font, and easily one of the best free fonts available. So I’m doing what I can to put more Charter into the world. If your project demands a font without licensing restrictions, consider it.
These fonts can be downloaded & used subject to the original license:
This is a copy of the Charter fonts which Bitstream contributed to the X consortium. This is the original notice included with the fonts:
(c) Copyright 1989-1992, Bitstream Inc., Cambridge, MA. You are hereby granted permission under all Bitstream propriety rights to use, copy, modify, sublicense, sell, and redistribute the 4 Bitstream Charter (r) Type 1 outline fonts and the 4 Courier Type 1 outline fonts for any purpose and without restriction; provided, that this notice is left intact on all copies of such fonts and that Bitstream’s trademark is acknowledged as shown below on all unmodified copies of the 4 Charter Type 1 fonts. BITSTREAM CHARTER is a registered trademark of Bitstream Inc.
I can’t offer any support for these fonts. The extent of my contribution is this page.
Download Charter (900k zip file)
Charter is also available as a full OpenType font family (though not for free).
Charter is the basis of another free font called Charis. Charis has a larger character set, so if you need that, you might prefer it to this version. But if not, stick with this one—Charis includes some questionable design modifications.