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Helvetica Now and Public Sans

Excitement in the world of typography!

Monotype’s marketing text for Helvetica Now:

Helvetica Now is a new chapter in the story of perhaps the best-known typeface of all time. Available in three optical sizes—Micro, Text, and Display—every character in Helvetica Now has been redrawn and refit; with a variety of useful alternates added. It has everything we love about Helvetica and everything we need for typography today. This is not a revival. This is not a restoration.

From an interview with Charles Nix, type designer at Monotype:

If I had to put them in order of what we wanted to change, the first thing — from the customer’s point of view, the user’s point of view, the designer’s point of view — are those alternate characters because they’re the most visible change. The second most important thing to us and to designers is the optical sizing. It’s super important to me because it’s just, it’s one of those things when you say a new Helvetica, I mean, I would shrug. “Does there need to be a new Helvetica?” But then when you see it and you use it, because of the optical sizing, it’s like being reintroduced to an old friend. It’s amazing. I thought I knew Helvetica. I thought I didn’t need Helvetica. And then I see this Helvetica Now and I suddenly realize that’s it not what I thought it was.

Public Sans was released as part of the the US Web Design System announcement of USWDS 2.0:

USWDS 2.0 adds built-in support for custom typefaces, and sometimes you need one that’s simple, neutral, and isn’t Helvetica. Public Sans is an open source, free license typeface (SIL Open Font License 1.1) designed and maintained by USWDS, adapted from Libre Franklin. Just as with our components, we intend Public Sans to be an example of how to design an accessible open source typeface with contributions and feedback from the public — to deliver a useful, neutral, sans serif and continuously improve it.