CalibWHY?

Uncategorized Posted Dec 15, 2014 by chenpr

In November of 2006 Microsoft released Microsoft Office 2007. There were a lot of new and heavily endorsed features added to the ’07 addition of Office but they stayed pretty quiet about one thing—the move to Calibri as the default font. Prior to the release of Office ‘07, Times New Roman dominated the MS landscape.

Times New Roman was first introduced in 1931 for use in the British newspaper The Times. It subsequently became a popular typeface in all kinds of publications—from newspaper to novels. But in the early 1990s, when Microsoft made it the default typeface in their word processors, Times New Roman reached new heights. With the increasing popularity of personal computers and the near universal adoption of Microsoft Word as the word processor of choice, Times New Roman was everywhere. One can’t help but notice the irony in the fact that the digital revolution that helped make Times New Roman such a ubiquitous typeface is also what later caused it to fall out of favor.

times new pic

In a pre-iPhone, tablet, and broadband WiFi world the primary function of Microsoft Office was to lay out documents in a way that could ultimately be printed onto the page, and to that end Times New Roman served as a simple and easily readable choice. But the world is a different place now. We create content that is only meant to exist digitally, and in the digital realm sans-serif typefaces win the day. Digitally we seem to prefer clean, clear and minimalist design, and that has led to a movement away from antiquated serif based typefaces like Times New Roman.

Joe Friend, Sr. Program Manager at Microsoft at the time of the development of Office ‘07 said of the change, “We believed that more and more documents would never be printed but would solely be consumed on a digital device… To support digital consumption the new fonts were created to improve screen readability.” And the font they chose to replace Times New Roman was Calibri.

I’m still not sure how I feel about the change. I hate to sound like a 25 year old Luddite, but I still prefer my Word documents avec serif. Gentle and innocuous peer pressure has pushed me into primarily using Calibri, but the instructions in hundreds of syllabi still nag at me to keep it in 12-point Times New Roman.

I wonder, though. Am I the only one that feels this way? How do you feel about the change? Do you prefer it? Hate it? Did you even notice?