Typography is an important component of the new NPS graphic identity standards. The standards specify two typefaces: NPS Rawlinson and Frutiger. Our license for NPS Rawlinson is unrestricted, which means that the NPS, or any entity working with or for the NPS, may use the typeface on any project benefiting the agency. Our license for Frutiger, however, is restricted—we may use it within the agency, but transferring it to others is governed by specific restrictions.
NPS Rawlinson was designed in 2000 by James Montalbano of Terminal Design based on requirements established by the National Park Service. Rawlinson is considered to be both elegant and versatile. Its old-style letterforms, which are based on classic European typefaces, help to reinforce the National Park Service's rich graphic traditions. NPS Rawlinson works well in a wide range of applications, from park newspapers and other publications to outdoor signs.
Adobe Frutiger is a sans serif type family named for its designer Adrian Frutiger, who originally developed it for outdoor signs at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. The type's open letterforms make it ideal for long-range viewing, but it also works well in print, especially at small sizes. Frutiger's clean and straightforward forms make it an attractive and versatile modern typeface. When paired with NPS Rawlinson, Frutiger helps project an NPS identity that is fresh and lively, but mindful of the past. Frutiger is available for purchase.
Frequently Asked Questions
Please note, there are some restrictions on the use of NPS Rawlinson as it is licensed to the National Park Service for unrestricted and unlimited use by NPS employees, contractors, vendors, and partners who are engaged in NPS business. Note that contractors, vendors, and most NPS partners do not have access to this website. When transmitting the type to contractors, vendors or partners for use on NPS work, please remind them that NPS Rawlinson may not be used for any other purpose. NPS Rawlinson fonts may not be transmitted to anyone else.
NPS employees can download NPS Rawlinson here.
These files are for internal access only - employees must be connected to the VPN to access these files or the album will appear empty. Non-NPS users will encounter a "Page Not Found" error.
Frutiger is licensed to the National Park Service by Adobe Systems for internal use by NPS employees while engaged in NPS work.
NPS employees can download Frutiger here.
Under standard industry practice contractors, vendors or partners must purchase their own license to use Frutiger from Adobe here.
Hawaiian diacritical marks, the ʻōkina (left single quote) and kahakō (line over the vowel) are included in NPS Rawlinson. A custom Hawaiian version of Frutiger (HFrutiger 2) is available here for NPS Employees. Contractors or partners can request HFrutiger 2 from their park contact as long as they have a Frutiger License.
There are two methods for creating the ‘ōkina and kahakō
1. Select the appropriate character with the kahakō from the glyphs panel in InDesign. This method requires manual selection of the character instead of typing it on the keyboard.
2. Enable the Hawaiian keyboard
Go to System Preferences - Keyboard - Input Sources, then click on + in the lower left, select Hawaiian and add. Before exiting keyboard preference, click on show input menu in the menu bar for easier language switching.
Start - Settings - Time & Language. Select Region & Language and click Add a Language. Find and add Hawai‘i. A keyboard icon will now appear in the lower right with abbreviation ENG. Click to change to HAW for Hawaiian.
Once the Hawaiian keyboard has been selected:
'Ōkina - type the single quote mark next to return key
Kahakō - Option (alt) + character, include shift for a capital letter
A team drawn from the National Park Service, National Park Foundation, and Ogilvy Public Relations found that among the barriers to a greater public understanding of the breadth and depth of our agency was a lack of consistency in the content and appearance of visual materials presented to the public. Consequently, Harpers Ferry Center was tasked to develop graphic standards that would establish a unique organizational identity that could be expressed through the full range of communication materials used by the National Park Service.
A clear and strong graphic identity for an organization is achieved through a careful mix of visual elements. These typically include a logo (the Arrowhead), a limited palette of colors, a limited set of typefaces (usually a serif and sans serif typeface), and a number of distinctive graphic devices (like the black band), all carefully orchestrated to achieve a distinctive look. None of these elements alone can create a strong identity. But when used together, the combination serves to create a visual impression (both consciously and subconsciously) that is unique to that organization.
Typography is one important way to bind together such disparate media as printed materials, films and videos, indoor and outdoor exhibits, vehicle markings, uniforms, and signs. Road signs, for instance, are one of the most pervasive ways the Park Service communicates with park visitors. Finding typefaces that work effectively in all of these media types was no easy task. A team of HFC designers, working with Meeker & Associates (a leading environmental graphic design firm), the Dennis Konetzka Design Group, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Pennsylvania Traffic Institute at Penn State University looked at a variety of typefaces to satisfy the broad needs of the National Park Service.
The team finally settled on two typefaces: Frutiger and NPS Rawlinson. Frutiger is a sans serif typeface developed in 1968 by Adrian Frutiger for signage at the Charles de Gaulle Airport outside Paris. In contrast to Helvetica (or its Microsoft Windows counterpart Arial), Frutiger is characterized by "open" letterforms, which means, for example, that there is less chance for confusion between a "c", an "e" or an "o" on a small map or brochure, or on a road sign viewed from a distance.
The design team found that, in addition to the functional advantage of improved legibility, the distinctive letterforms of both Frutiger and NPS Rawlinson set them apart visually from the more common typeface varieties found on typical office computers. This distinctiveness, when applied across the many forms of media used by the NPS, contributed subtly but effectively to the team's overall goal to "establish a unique organizational identity that could be expressed through the full range of communication materials used by the National Park Service."
Last updated: February 11, 2022