WordPress 4.6 to Drop Open Sans in the Admin in Favor of System Fonts


WordPress 4.6 will bid farewell to Open Sans in the admin in favor of using system fonts. Open Sans, which loads from Google Fonts as an external resource, has been in use in the admin since 2013.

“At the time of introduction in 3.8, there were not good system fonts common to all platforms at the time,” WordPress lead developer Helen Hou-Sandí said in her commit message. “In the years since, Windows, Android, OS X, iOS, Firefox OS, and various flavors of Linux have all gotten their own (good) system UI fonts.”

Now that the admin doesn’t have to load fonts from Google, it should feel faster and will provide a better experience for developers who are working offline.

Dropping Open Sans originated as part of the Font Natively feature project led by WordPress designer Matt Miklic, Mark Uraine, and Helen Hou-Sandí. The project page provides screenshots for the WP admin with Open Sans in Firefox on OSX vs the admin with system fonts, but the team noted that they are in need of more screenshots from different environments.

Anytime that WordPress can shed a third-party dependency while improving the experience in the admin is a win for everyone. The commit comes early in the release cycle in order to get more people testing for misalignments and any other issues. Feel free to report any bugs you experience with the change, as work is still ongoing on the ticket.


17 responses to “WordPress 4.6 to Drop Open Sans in the Admin in Favor of System Fonts”

  1. Thanks for posting this news! I’ve been wondering all day why my local copy of trunk has been showing the Apple system font.

    Honestly not sure how I feel about this move yet. Fonts are often a staple for brands, and a key part of their style guidelines. Something about going dynamic with that doesn’t quite sit right with me (yet). I’m willing to try it out :-)

  2. I think relying on system fonts makes perfect sense. I have been using a plugin to remove Open Sans for some time. So I really want to like this proposal.

    But I’m confused by what it actually involves. In its current form, it doesn’t revert to the user’s choice of system font. That, surely, would just means specifying the generic sans-serif font. Instead, this proposal currently specifies a long list of fonts first, before resorting to sans-serif.

    I don’t see the point of that at all. If a user has chosen his or her system font, then that should be used, and that’s what sans-serif does.

    What this proposal does, by contrast, is force upon the user a font for the admin just because it happens to be installed on the particular device that the user happens to be using at the time.

    So it seems that I will now either have to install another plugin to undo the new stylesheet, or else I will have to uninstall particular fonts from my devices just to make sure that they won’t be used on the WP admin pages. Bizarre!

    • I think when they say “system font”, they mean fonts that are native to the OS, not necessarily the users chosen font. I imagine they do this for a couple of reasons.

      One being that if a user sets their system font to Georgia at 24px, that would probably screw up all sorts of spacing issues within WordPress, thus potentially making WordPress look bad, even though it was the users fault for choosing such a weird configuration.

      Two, because it helps keep the experience more consistent across devices. It’s not the exact same (like it is now with Open Sans) but it’s close enough that people shouldn’t get confused when switching devices.

      Also, you can still load your plugin and override those CSS rules. It might not need any tweaking at all! Check it out against the development version. :)

      • @Daron, all they mean is a font that’s installed on the device accessing the site.

        So, because they list Roboto as one the fonts and I have it installed on my PC, that’s the font showing on the admin pages, as if I were using my Android phone!

        I actually use Linux Mint as my OS, so have the Ubuntu font installed, but that doesn’t show up because Roboto is listed ahead of it. As I said, bizarre!

        So, yes, I have tweaked this so that the only font specified is sans-serif. But tweaking it like is no better than the tweak I had to apply before to remove Open Sans.

  3. I for one am appalled that core would have the gall to remove a remote http request from every page in the admin and speed up my site. What if I like it slower? Besides, my system font is webdings sans-serif, how am I going to use the wp-admin now?!

  4. That is great news! No more need for a VPN on my local install (Google fonts are blocked in China) or use a plugin.
    Pity that I’m leaving China soon, but nevertheless great news as cutting the fluff out of the WP Dashboard is a step in the right direction!


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