The 1980s was a unique style decade. Filled with neon signs, deco and big hair. The time period brought us big shoulder pads, acid-washed jeans and valley girls. The movie titles and advertising of the time have a distinctive feel one can only achieve by seleting 80s style font choices.
If your client wants a retro look, adding in a heading or choosing a logo design that screams sans serif with some angles and curves is the right option for your project.
If you search for 80s style fonts, you’ll pull up dozens of options. Some are better than others. We’ve taken the time to look at what is reminiscent of the Decade of Decadence and picked a few favorites to share.
The 1980s meant going to the movies, some drive-ins were still around and renting a VHS tape from Blockbuster. Many movies of the era used big, thick lettering and had an almost futuristic look. Overdrive Avenue comes with sans serif and script styles, including an italics. The set also comes with an outline option.
The font is available on Envato Elements. You’ll need a membership to download it. For $16.50 per month, you get commercial licensing and can use the font on promotional materials without problem.
2. Knight Brush
Knight Brush has a fancy, 1980s script feel to it that offers a unique appearance excellent for retro projects. Although it is script, it is still readable with the straight lines and added angles that give it that 80s vibe. The font comes with more than 570 glyphs for a handpainted look. The font supports multiple languages, including English, Albanian, Tetum, Pangasinan and Walloon.
This 1980s style font runs $15 for one-time, basic use. Be sure to read the licensing limitations as they are unique to Creative Market. If you plan to use the style on a book cover, for example, you’ll need an extended license that may run a bit more.
If you’re looking for a font that isn’t quite as thick but still has the 80s retro vibe, look no further than Hadfield. The font was initially released in the 1980s and made it to the number one font. It is a script-based rendering.
Hadfield is often seen on posters, logo and product packaging. Other fonts published around the same time include AG Book, Formata and Baskerville. One way you can get a 1980s style font look while still taking advantage of the modern advantages of today’s designs is by using a retro font in the heading and more current fonts in the body text.
The pricing on Hadfield is a bit unusual. It is typically free for personal use but you may need a license for commercial needs, depending upon how you’re using the font.
Neon signs and bright, bold colors were a staple of the 80s. Rodagear Script offers a slightly more sophisticated look with a tall x-height and swoops and swirls. In the image example, they’ve made the font look like a sign. The colors and accents you use can turn this option more into an 80s style font or something a bit more modern.
Some ideas for colors to use include neon pink, illuminated looks and electric blue. Rodagear is also part of Envato Elements. You’ll need to subscribe to them in order to download and use this font.
Don Johnson had a distinctive 80s beach look in the show Miami Vice. Orlando font gives that same feel as the show set out to capture. It’s an edgy, somewhat futuristic but casual look that pulls the user in and makes them feel awed and comfortable at the same time.
Orlando is a multi-line font that looks handdrawn. Add the right background and other elements and you have a Miami Vice look alike that those who loved the decade will recognize.
If you do any of your design work in Canva, you’ll want to check out their font titled Neoneon. The outline font has some interesting quirks. First, some of the lines and angles intersect one another to create an almost script-like look.
The uniqueness and fun edge to the font scream 1980s style. Utilize the right colors and you have a look that brings back the time period of “gag me with a spoon” and parachute pants.
Teens in the 1980s went to movies and hung out at football games and made arcades a way of life. If you’re looking for a font that evokes a 1980s arcade, check out Arcade Machine. It looks like the lettering on many games and music albums of the decade. You can layer different bright colors for more interest.
Also part of Envato Elements, you can download this font along with dozens of other 80s fonts, combine them and come up with some perfect designs. The cost of monthly subscription is $16.50 but covers most licensing requirements.
This beautiful font reminds one of fast cars and fast times in high school. It is the epitome of an 80s style font thanks to the swoops and swirls seen on various movie posters of the time. It reminds one of movies such as “License to Drive” and “Footloose.”
Utilize 1980s colors such as neon-blue, vivid purple or brilliant hot pink for the right vibe. Layer the letters to give the look a lifted effect and it looks even more 80s.
License the font for around $17. You will need to pay a bit more for use on a book cover or other distributed material.
Best 80s Style Fonts
You can give almost any font an 80s look with the right details and shades. The ones listed above are an excellent place to start. However, don’t feel limited in choices as you can still get a retro vibe with modern font options.
The 1980s were a relaxed, intense and exciting time all at once. Capturing the feel of the decade requires understanding the personalities of the people driving pop culture and studying what designers of the decade focused most on. With a little practive, you’ll be able to mimic the attitudes of the 80s without losing today’s more advanced design skills.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.