Goodbye, Calibri: Microsoft to choose new default font from five options

After almost 15 years as the default font for all-things Microsoft, Calibri will be retired as the go-to typeface after taking over from Times New Roman in 2007

For the past 14 years, Calibri has been the default font for all things Microsoft, after it replaced Times New Roman as the go-to in Microsoft Office in 2007.

The typeface has shown up in Word documents, PowerPoint presentations and Excel sheets since then.

“Default fonts are perhaps most notable in the absence of the impression they make. We seldom give them much thought, and therein lies their greatest gift," say the Microsoft design team in a recent blog post.

Scroll through our gallery above to see the font nominees and what their creators have to say about them.

"When a font blends into the background of a user experience, people can jump right into the creative process and stay grounded in their thoughts rather than thinking about the form those thoughts take."

However, the blog states that it's now time to move on; the company plans to retire Calibri as the default style and pick one of five newly commissioned fonts. Microsoft has announced a shortlist, which features fonts Tenorite, Bierstadt, Skeena, Seaford and Grandview.

What will Microsoft's new font be? Courtesy Microsoft
What will Microsoft's new font be? Courtesy Microsoft

"To help us set a new direction, we’ve commissioned five original, custom fonts to eventually replace Calibri as the default. We’re excited to share these brand-new fonts with you and would love your input ... And don’t worry if the font you love best isn’t chosen as the next default; all of them will be available in the font menu, alongside Calibri and your other favourite fonts," Microsoft said.

So, without further ado, here are the five fonts in the running to become the new Microsoft default typeface:

Tenorite by Erin McLaughlin and Wei Huang

Microsoft describes the font as a “traditional workhorse sans serif (a font without a serif, or a stroke at the ends, like Times New Roman), but with a warmer, more friendly style".

It also has elements such as large dots, accents and punctuation that not only make it comfortable to read at small sizes on screen, but also features crisp-looking shapes and wide characters to create a generally open feeling.

Bierstadt by Steve Matteson

The new front was inspired by mid-20th-century Swiss typography. It’s described as precise and contemporary with Microsoft saying it’s a versatile typeface that “expresses simplicity and rationality in a highly readable form, Bierstadt is also notably clear-cut with stroke endings that emphasise order and restraint.”

Skeena by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow

The font is “based on the shapes of traditional serif text typefaces” with modulated strokes that feature a “noticeable contrast between thick and thin and a distinctive slice applied to the ends of many of its strokes".

Microsoft says the font is ideal for body text in long documents as well as shorter passages in presentations, brochures and reports.

Seaford by Tobias Frere-Jones, Nina Stossinger and Fred Shallcrass

Microsoft says this front is rooted in the design of old-style serif text typefaces and thus evokes a comfortable familiarity. “Its gently organic and asymmetric forms help reading by emphasising the differences between letters, thus creating more recognisable word shapes.”

Grandview by Aaron Bell

The front is derived from classic German road and railway signage and was designed to be readable from a distance and under poor conditions. “Grandview is designed for use in body text but retains the same qualities of high legibility, with subtle adjustments made for long-form reading,” says Microsoft.

The five fonts in the running to become the new Microsoft default font:

  1. Tenorite by Eric McLaughlin and Wei Huang
  2. Bierstadt by Steve Matteson
  3. Skeena by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow
  4. Seaford by Tobias Frere-Jones, Nina Stossinger and Fred Shallcrass
  5. Grandview by Aaron Bell

Updated: May 2, 2021 05:33 PM

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