Microsoft is auditioning for a new default font and has already shortlisted five

Calibri’s time in the sun is almost over as the global behemoth that is Microsoft is casting about for a new font to become its go-to for new documents created within its ubiquitous productivity suite, Office.

Say no to squiggly 8 gs

If you don’t think this is a big deal, then… well… Just believe me it’s a big deal – as communication geeks like us know very well to never mention religion, politics or fonts in polite company.

Calibri has been the default font in Microsoft’s Office suite since 2007 when serif fonts became unpopular and Times New Roman got the golden handshake.

I will mention at this stage that a serif is the small stroke at the ends of letters, although I am sure everybody already knows that.

Default fonts are the workhorses of office productivity suites. There are few users that bother to change them for new documents, and default fonts quickly become typeface traditions across the world.

Microsoft go so far to state: “[Default fonts] communicate a distinct personality in their own quiet way – a personality that by extension becomes our personality as well.”

This may be a bit of pish and posh but it is true that font choices are one of the first things communicated by a document, despite the reader rarely recognising the way such choices affect them.

This is move far from a random act of font-based terrorism by a bored executive. Microsoft has commissioned five original, custom fonts from different type designers to vie for the winner’s title – and typophiles will be relieved to know not a single serif can be found amongst the shortlisted five.

These final five are: Tenorite, Bierstadt, Skeena, Seaford, and Grandview.

Samples of the five fonts shortlisted by Microsoft

“Tenorite,” says Microsoft, “has the overall look of a traditional workhorse sans serif, but with a warmer, more friendly style.” It features large dots, accents, and punctuation to make it readable on small screens.

“Bierstadt is a precise, contemporary sans serif typeface inspired by mid-20th-century Swiss typography,” it extolls. It is designed for simplicity and a high level of readability through its clear-cut design “with stroke endings that emphasize order and restraint”.

“Skeena is a humanist sans serif based on the shapes of traditional serif text typefaces,” says Redmond, adding that its contrasting thick and thin shapes and many-sliced stroke ends makes it ideal for body text.

Microsoft waxes lyrically about Seaford being “a sans serif typeface that is rooted in the design of old-style serif text typefaces and evokes their comfortable familiarity.” It says: “Its gently organic and asymmetric forms help reading by emphasizing the differences between letters, thus creating more recognizable word shapes.”

And finally, it says: “Grandview is a sans serif typeface derived from classic German road and railway signage, which was designed to be legible at a distance and under poor conditions.”

We at Real Press think this is all very well, but our money goes on either of the two that offer lower case Gs shaped the way everyone in the whole wide world writes them – not as (annoyingly) this web page presents them 😉. No-one in the history of learning and writing has ever written a G as a squiggly eight, and so it’s Tenorite or Grandview all the way for us.

The final five candidates may have already appeared on your Microsoft 365 app, but more information and instructions can be found on the organisation’s Cloud Fonts portal.

Microsoft is calling for feedback on the final five via its Microsoft 365 Twitter feed, and we are confident you will take this opportunity to extol the virtues of properly formed Gs.

You can read more on this blog post.