Abstract We show that the fiber axis orientation in sputtered aluminum nitride (AlN) responds strongly to deposition angle as compared with pure metal films. Fiber axis tilt was measured in films deposited at angles from 0° to 68° from the substrate normal. For pure metal films of Al and Ag, the strong (111) texture has a fiber axis tilt of < 10° from the substrate normal. For pure Nb films, the strong (110) texture also has a tilt of < 10°. In contrast, for films of the compound AlN, the distinct c-axis texture responds strongly to the deposition direction, with the fiber axis tilt almost following the deposition angle.