Goodbye, Calibri: Microsoft rolls out new default font Aptos

After 15 years, there's a new typeface for Outlook and Word on the way

Designer Steve Matteson's Aptos was selected for 'simplicity and rationality'. Photo: Microsoft
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Microsoft has selected its new default font.

After 15 years of Calibri, which replaced Times New Roman in 2007, a new font called Aptos (formerly known as Bierstadt) will be rolled out as the default typeface in the next few months on Microsoft programmes.

“We begin the final phase of this major change where Aptos will start appearing as the new default font across Word, Outlook, PowerPoint and Excel for hundreds of millions of users,” said Si Daniels, a principal programme manager at Microsoft, in a blog post on Thursday. “And, over the next few months, it will roll out to be the default for all our customers.”

Daniels described Aptos as a "bold, well-defined, directive and constrained" font that "embodies professionalism, adaptability, subtle flourishes of expression and more clarity". Despite the change, users can also still choose to set any other font as the default such as Calibri, Times New Roman, Helvetica or Arial in their settings.

In May 2021, Microsoft announced it was on the search for a new default typeface. Five commissioned fonts were then shortlisted: Tenorite, Aptos (then known as Bierstadt), Skeena, Seaford and Grandview.

The five fonts that were in contention in 2021 to be the new Microsoft default font. Photo: Microsoft 

The winner, by font designer Steve Matteson, is inspired by mid-20th-century Swiss typography.

At the time of its shortlist, Microsoft described Aptos as precise and contemporary. The company also noted it was a versatile typeface that expressed "simplicity and rationality in a highly readable form” with "notably clear-cut with stroke endings that emphasise order and restraint.”

The other four fonts will still be available in Office, and Microsoft is even keeping the Bierstadt font name around in the drop-down menu for those who have already become familiar with it. Matteson said that while he is happy Aptos was selected, he didn't think there needed to be a new default font.

“I can understand Microsoft wanting to make a change, but I don’t think there’s ever been anything wrong with Calibri,” Matteson told CNBC.

In addition to the new typeface, Daniels revealed more changes are coming that will allow users to have more personalisation.

“Aptos is part of a broader wave of features coming to Microsoft 365. We’re pushing to make the software more expressive and inclusive,” said Daniels. “There’s a newly designed font picker experience, along with new themes, colours, and backgrounds.”

Updated: July 15, 2023, 10:07 AM