A clear typographic system is critical to the effective communication of the SBA brand. Type treatments should reflect SBA as an approachable, friendly organization. The SBA recommends a font system that uses two open-source font families: Source Sans Pro and Merriweather, both of which are designed for legibility and can beautifully adapt to a variety of visual styles.
Source Sans Pro
Source Sans Pro is an open-source sans serif typeface created for legibility in UI design. With a variety of weights that read easily at all sizes, Source Sans Pro provides clear headers as well as highly-readable body text.
Inspired by twentieth-century American gothic typeface design, its slender but open letters offer a clean and friendly simplicity. Advanced hinting allows Source Sans Pro to render well on Windows systems which run Cleartype, and across browsers and devices. Moreover, it supports a variety of languages and alphabets, including Western and European language, Vietnamese, pinyin Romanization of Chinese, and Navajo.
Merriweather is an open-source serif typeface designed for on-screen reading. This font is ideal for text-dense design: the letterforms have a tall x-height but remain relatively small, making for excellent readability across screen sizes while not occupying extra horizontal space.
The combination of light, regular, and bold weights gives the font family stylistic range, while conveying a desirable mix of classic, yet modern simplicity. Merriweather communicates warmth and credibility at both large and smaller font sizes.
Helvetica Neue is a reworking of the typeface Helvetica with a more structurally unified set of heights and widths. The font has a synthesis of aesthetic and technical refinements that result in improved appearance, legibility and usefulness.
In certain instances that Source Sans Pro may be unavailable, Helvetica Neue may be used if you have it installed on your computer system. This typeface may also be used in special circumstances, approved by the SBA Office of Communications and Public Liaison (OCPL).
Georgia is a typeface intended as a serif font that would appear elegant but legible printed small or on low-resolution screens. As a transitional serif design, Georgia shows a number of traditional features of 'rational' serif typefaces from around the early 19th century, such as alternating thick and thin strokes, ball terminals and a vertical axis.
If Merriweather is unavailable to use, Georgia (which is one of the most common system fonts available) may be used in its place. Use of Georgia over Merriweather must be approved by SBA OCPL.
Font pairings and styles
To support a more contemporary web and print design aesthetics, please adhere to the following font pairings.
Heading 1 - Source Sans Pro Regular or Semibold
Heading 2 - Source Sans Pro Regular or Semibold
Heading 3 - Source Sans Pro Semibold
Heading 4 - Source Sans Pro Semibold
Lede paragraph - Merriweather Regular or Light Italic
Body copy - Source Sans Pro Regular
Readability and accessibility
Readable text allows users to efficiently read and take in textual information. Text that is not readable turns off readers or makes it challenging for them to stay focused. The following guidelines promote good readability and 508 accessibility compliance:
- Text should never be smaller than 13pt.
- Make sure there is a big enough size contrast between headings and main text (i.e. Headings can be 27pt and main text can be 14pt).
- Only use colors #002e6d (sba-blue), #1b1e29 (black), or #686868 (dark-gray) to for main text. Inversely, you can use white text on a sba-blue, black, or dark-gray backrounds.
- Do not use #969696 (palette-gray) for text or as a background behind white text.