IBM Plex

IBM Plex is an open source typeface superfamily conceptually designed and developed by Mike Abbink at IBM in collaboration with Bold Monday to reflect the brand spirit, beliefs and design principles of IBM and to be used for all brand experiences across the company internationally. Plex will replace Helvetica as the IBM corporate typeface after more than fifty years, freeing the company from extensive license payments in the process.[1]

IBM Plex Sans
Designer(s)Mike Abbink, et al.
FoundryIBM, Bold Monday
LicenseSIL OFL
Latest release version3.1
Latest release date14 December 2018 (2018-12-14)
IBM Plex Sans Condensed
Designer(s)Mike Abbink, et al.
FoundryIBM, Bold Monday
LicenseSIL OFL
Latest release version1.1
Latest release date18 February 2018 (2018-02-18)
IBM Plex Mono
Designer(s)Mike Abbink, et al.
FoundryIBM, Bold Monday
LicenseSIL OFL
Latest release version2.0
IBM Plex Serif
Designer(s)Mike Abbink, et al.
FoundryIBM, Bold Monday
LicenseSIL OFL
Latest release version2.5
Latest release date15 October 2018 (2018-10-15)

Version 1.0 of the font family had four typefaces, each with 8 weights (Thin, Extra Light, Light, Regular, Text, Medium, Semi-bold, Bold) and true italics to complement them.[2]

  • IBM Plex Sans – A grotesque sans-serif typeface with a design that was inspired by Franklin Gothic. Other sans-serif classifications were rejected on the basis of being too soft (humanist), inefficient (geometric) and overly perfected (neo-grotesque). Some of Franklin Gothic's features such as the angled terminals, a double-storey g and a horizontal line at the baseline of the 1 are used in IBM Plex Sans. On 7 April 2019, IBM Plex Sans Variable, a variable counterpart to IBM Plex Sans was released.
  • IBM Plex Sans Condensed – A condensed variant of IBM Plex Sans.
  • IBM Plex Mono – A monospaced typeface based on IBM Plex Sans. The italic design was inspired by the Italic 12 typeface used on the IBM Selectric typewriter; this is particularly evident with the italicised i, j, t and x letters.
  • IBM Plex Serif – A transitional serif typeface with a design that was inspired by Bodoni and Janson. Other serif classifications were rejected for being too humanist and outdated (old-style) and too clunky and unrefined for long text (slab-serif). Some of Bodoni's features such as ball terminals and rectangular serifs are used in IBM Plex Serif.

Unicode coverage

As of version 1.0 the IBM Plex typefaces support over 100 languages with most that use the Latin alphabet (including Vietnamese), as well as Cyrillic (except in IBM Plex Sans Condensed). In version 3.0 of IBM Plex Sans, support for monotonic Greek was added.[3] For other writing systems separate fonts were made without italics:

  • IBM Plex Sans Hebrew – Adding support for the Hebrew writing system.
  • IBM Plex Sans Thai – Adding support for the informal loopless Thai script, released on 15 October 2018.[4]
  • IBM Plex Sans Thai Looped – Adding support for the formal looped Thai script, on 5 April 2019.[5]
  • IBM Plex Sans Devanagari – Added support for the Devanagari writing system, released on 14 December 2018.[6]
  • IBM Plex Sans Arabic – Added support for Arabic script, released on 13 March 2019.[7]

In addition, both Mike Abbink and Bold Monday have confirmed to be working on support for CJK, Bengali, Tamil and Kannada.[8][9][10]

There is also support for common mathematical and currency symbols (including Bitcoin (₿) #U+20BF which was ratified into Unicode in 2017) as well as ligatures such as fi and fl, along with stylistic alternates for a, g and 0.

There are a few unreleased symbols for IBM Plex Sans Condensed, IBM Plex Mono and IBM Plex Serif such as the generic currency sign (¤), prime symbol (′) and double prime symbol (″). In addition Mike Abbink has confirmed support for the Mathematical Operators block and support for the symbols used in the APL programming language in 2019.[11][12]

The FCC #ECE0 and CE marking #EFCC logos are encoded as glyphs within the Private Use Area.[13] Prior to version 1.0, five IBM logos (solid and 8-bar logos, and the I-Bee-M logo) #EBE1 to #EBE7 were also encoded as glyphs.


IBM has licensed the font files only under the SIL Open Font License (SIL OFL).[14] Although between 9 August 2018 and 21 August 2018, the fonts were additionally dual-licensed under the Apache License. This dual-licensing arrangement was rescinded due to concerns that the Apache License is unsuitable for fonts.[15] The SIL OFL license is free and open-source; however, FontLab Studio which is proprietary software is required in order to build the fonts from source.[16]

Bold Monday also provide web development code in CSS, SCSS and JavaScript that is related to the fonts under the Apache License.[17]

IBM Plex's name is reserved, as allowed by the SIL OFL and trademarked as of December 2017.[18][19]

See also


  1. Quito, Anne. "IBM has freed itself from the tyranny of Helvetica". Quartz. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  2. "IBM Plex - 03 Plexness". IBM. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  3. "Add support for (modern) Greek. #179". GitHub. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  4. "". GitHub. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  5. "v1.4.1 – Add IBM Plex Thai Looped support". GitHub. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  6. "v1.2.3 - Davanagari support". GitHub. 14 December 2018. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  7. "Arabic support". GitHub. 13 March 2019. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  8. "IBM Plex editable sources? #68". GitHub. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  9. "IBM Plex – 05 Specs". IBM. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  10. "Kannada typeface #257". GitHub. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  11. "Suggestion: ≔ and ≝ #122". GitHub. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  12. "APL Glyphs Absent #176". GitHub. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  13. "IBM Plex". Font Squirrel. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  14. "LICENSE.txt". GitHub. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  15. "Add Apache license into all font folders (This will live as a dual license with the OFL) #190". GitHub. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  16. "Please allow building from source with a free toolchain #98". GitHub. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  17. "README - Building the fonts from source". GitHub. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  18. "Trade mark number UK00003255123". Intellectual Property Office (United Kingdom). Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  19. "IBM Plex – Trademark Electronic Search System". United States Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
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