The US government has just made its first foray into type design with the newly announced (and aptly named) typeface Public Sans. A bespoke adaptation of Libre Franklin, which is an open-source variation of the classic Franklin Gothic, this web font is a sharper, crisper version of its parent.
Part of the U.S Web Design System, a four-year-old ongoing project being carried out by the General Services Administration (GSA), this second instalment of its design framework for the government’s online presence is now in effect across 200 of its websites.
Having previously utilised several external open-source typefaces such as Source Sans Pro and Roboto, this recent release is part of an effort by the GSA to facilitate the use of custom fonts. Free to download, Public Sans serves as a modern update for the US Government’s “brand identity”. In the past it was largely reliant on Franklin Gothic, a sans-serif typeface that was originally released in 1904 and became the go-to for everything from tax forms to blog posts.
Aesthetically, the only noticeable differences between the two versions are the updated ‘l’ which now features a hooked tail, and other minor structural changes which aid legibility, such as added line spacing. The result, however, is a slick typeface that ranges in weight from an extremely thin 100 through to a generously bold 900, making it a beautifully adaptable option for users, able to meet a range of different design needs.
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