Update on our typeface choice: IBM Plex – EMBL Communications

EMBL Communications

Informing, inspiring, and engaging society with EMBL’s research, services and training

Update on our typeface choice: IBM Plex

Earlier last year I documented how we approached selecting a new typeface for EMBL. We’ve come pretty far with testing and would like to thank our digital team as well as the web development team at EMBL-EBI for their feedback.

During the intense testing phase, we realised that Fira had some limits in terms of its sustainable digital applications and font expansions. At the same time IBM Plex had its ‘big bang’, holding all the promise the company had communicated.

IBM Plex was designed by Mike Abbink at IBM in collaboration with Bold Monday. It conveys the story well from a tech-driven, machine look-and-feel to a humanistic touch and user-friendly application.

Following our design principles (user-centric, simple, sustainable) we started testing IBM Plex Sans and IBM Plex Mono. In sum, this typeface meets all our needs:

  • Open source, no licence complications
  • Good legibility
  • Screen optimised
  • Available on Google Docs
  • Large range of handsets
  • Many widths, all have italic styles
  • Monospaced variant
  • Wide variety of glyphs

With the strong belief that the main goal of our corporate design is to make our templates functional, easy to use, quick to understand and at the same time serving the EMBL brand, the decision was quickly made. All our current prototypes have IBM Plex implemented, alongside the new colour scheme and graphical elements.

As IBM Plex is not yet incorporated in Microsoft Office Suite, we’re now testing a fall-back font for PowerPoint presentations, Excel sheets and Word documents. You can be sure we’ll keep you posted!