Haters of official Microsoft Office font Calibri finally have their wish – the infuriatingly 11-point default typeface has been chucked to the bin in favor of Aptos, the new official font to be used in all the Microsoft Office apps. For font nerds, Aptos is the static font formerly known as Bierstadt, part of the same neo- …
The traditional word processor font was Times Roman: a serif font both elegant and compact. Then people started moaning about "boring Times Roman", so in Office 2007 and 2010 the default became Cambria. The sans options were Arial with Times, and Calibri with Cambria.
Then, to my regret, the default in 2013 became Calibri.
After Germany abolished the old gothic (fraktur) fonts in 1941, Germany preferred the sans serif fonts. But Britain prefers serif fonts.
Oh spit, I guess we shall have to set up our own styles with our own preferences.
Calibri and Cambria are both totally soulless. Times New Roman looks elegant on paper but on 72dpi old school monitors was really tiring to read. Ironic it was replaced just in time for true HDMI monitors coming in.
Well, I'm sure we'll all have to suffer another terrible Microsoft typeface for the next five years, until it's again replaced by something even more awful.
Corbel is another one I can't stand. Tahoma was OK, but it's one of those that's tuned entirely for ClearType and looks awful unless you use only a specific point size and have MS' proprietary* font blurring turned on.
* although I seem to remember Steve Gibson did it first. Oh well.
Indeed. I prefer sans serif for its modernity and symmetry; serif on paper implies 'Olde Fashioned' to my eyes, not a look I prefer transmitting (I also have full block formatting set to default for the entire office).
It's the 21st Century and I prefer to communicate those expectations.
Times was designed to be read in a narrow column format on decent quality paper, i.e. The Times Of London
Once they started to use it in wider format, such as books it becomes much harder to read.
Sans Serif are better to read where there is more text and, most crucially, is much easy to skim read.
I personally HATE ariel...Is that an I or an l
Is it Ian or lan?.
I'm dyslexic, and I find Serif fonts very hard to process. Also, a lot of my work with computer documentation means that I am continually working with fixed width Courier, which I am very happy with. Proportional spacing is for the highfalutin nobs of this world.
[ Note to El Reg editors - very disappointed that there was no effort to have every paragraph in a different font. ]
Sans Serif are better to read where there is more text
In my graduate Visual Rhetoric course we read a couple of studies1 debunking this and other myths regarding typography and readability. Readability of various typeface features and families varies widely by reader, and generalizations about the superiority of sans-serif, for example, don't appear to hold under scrutiny.
1Reasonably methodologically sound, though N was not particularly large.
Back in the day, it was considered (by IBM?) that Times was "authoritative", Arial/Helvetica were considered "friendly" and Courier was typewriter/techie. In digital correspondence I tend to use Arial, as it can be almost guaranteed to look the same on many devices. Interestingly it was thought that Times was easier for older people to read - Perhaps initially because it was thought that "they were used to it", but later (Anglophone) work suggested that the bottom serifs could make it easier for older readers to scan along baselines.
When did everything become harder? When presbyopia kicked in, or when kids started designing documents with darkish grey fonts on greyish pastel grounds?
But Britain prefers serif fonts.
Really? I disagree, since everywhere I look I see mainly Gill or Johnston (like) fonts. And what about the Motorway font, designed specially for what it says on the tin? (Didn't that have its anniversary something like last year?) So yeah, maybe you were referring to dead tree communication exclusively, but just going on with life, I see a lot of naked letters...
That “Motorway font” is officially called Transport and it’s used on all UK road signage. While there is actually another face called “Motorway”, it only defines the narrower digits 0-9, M,N,S,W,E and parentheses as used on motorway route numbers.
One really nice, but subtle, feature of UK signage is that there are two different typeface weights used: Transport Heavy is used on white-backed signage, and Transport Medium is used on dark-backed signage (such as A-roads and Motorways). The reason for using two weights is to compensate for a visual phenomenon known as halation, where very bright areas appear bleed into surrounding dark areas, so on a reflective white signboard, the background appears to glow, making the black type seem thinner; on a reflective dark-background sign, it is the type that glows, making it seem thicker.
El Reg is posting bullshit there. It might be true is you run 4k on a 24" or 27" screen. But if you use 4k on a 42" or bigger screen, so you don't have to use OS-Zoom and see every pixel when working with Photoshop, you WANT Cleartype.
While we are on that topic: Better Cleartype Tuner has an explicit labeled Grayscale/RGB/BGR option. The builtin Windows tool is missing that option, or to be precise: not telling what option control that (It is the first screen, non obviously).
For 27" an office monitor is usually 2560x1440, a higher resolution makes everything too small. Especially since a lot of programs still can't handle windows zoom well, even though Windows 10/11 do a very good job at it.
There are offices using 42" or 43" monitors for some, but I "only" have two 27" with 2560x1440 + Laptop screen. Though, my home office has an even larger 4k screen, so I can have a comfy distance of 1.2 meter or more (4 feet or more for leftpondians) - programmers heaven since you can have a lot more code on the screen without scrolling around. And no, landscape does not work that well due to cleartype. And many monitors have bad angle dependent colors in landscape...
Bullshit has been used to describe "humanist" grotesque typefaces since they were first invented. Probably used to describe most other typefaces too, for that matter, but the humanist-grotesque designers seem particularly prone to it for some reason.
I suppose the designers of geometric-grotesques have other justifications they can trumpet ("simplicity!" "geometry!"), so they don't need to handwave in the direction of abstractions like "trust". And serif-typeface designers can just look smug.
Verdana has to be the worst of Microsoft's typeface disasters. Arial was used, I believe to avoid licensing costs, so it's a deliberately broken copy of Helvetica. Helvetica requires proprietary rendering which is why it still looks different on Mac than it does on Windows, and it's really shit on phones, which is why I stick with Lucida Grande which was developed for screen use.
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Sans serif fonts are the triumph of form (for some values of form) over function. The requirement of a font must be to unambiguously indicate the character to the reader. Any font which includes a single vertical stroke as one of its glyphs is apt to be ambiguous between lower case L, upper case i and possibly number one*. A font which has this for two characters is really problematical even if they're differentiated by slightly different lengths and if there are two equal in length you end up with with the worst case which is Arial.
* The way I, and the article, had to convey this surely stands as condemnation.
> My handwriting(*) doesn't contain serifs
But when you carve on stone, your strokes look unfinished until you tart-up the ends with serifs.
For some people, some papers, some inks..... serifs read better at the small sizes and can be more impressive at the large size (see New York Tines masthead).
Also a lot of handwritten "digit ones", especially it seems around Germany, have a huge top serif, sometimes an upside down V.
As anyone in Germany who lives at an address with especially a 7 in and receives letters from English-speaking countries will testify. German posties tend to interpret the un-crossed 7 as a 1.
On a related matter, it does make me wonder that Germans manage to cope with computer and print typefaces that do not have crossed 7s and heavily-seriphed 1s when they apparently cannot for handwriting.
Being in pharmaceuticals, we're strongly discouraged from crossing 7s or Zs, as it can be confused with attempting to cross out/correct the character. (Corrections are done by drawing a single line through the erroneous text, writing the correct text if applicable, writing a reason for the correction, and initialing and dating the correction.)
I dunno: the practice of writing a bar above a "u" to distinguish it from an "n" can easily be mistaken for the diaresis of an umlaut. German road signage is awful. In fact, a lot of rules (and DIN norms like the one for telephone numbers) are defended to the death in the face evidence that they're over thought and often impractical.
I'm dyslexic and cannot write anything legible in cursive script. I can only use capitals for written communication, except my signature (also illegible). Anything approaching a cursive/serif script is panful for me to read. I don't hear of anyone complaining that sans serif is unreadable to them.
Yep. This one is Apple’s fault. The original Macintosh first exposed the general public to the idea of typefaces, and its early applications had a “Font” menu for faces, with a “Style” menu beside it for style and sizes. This made people think that the word for a typeface was “font”.
“Font” itself was an Americanised spelling of the British “fount”, with the same pronunciation, which ultimately came from the German “Fond” in its meaning of “a stock or supply of something” - in this case, the typesetter’s stock of letterforms of a given style at a given size.
On a more ephemeral note (break out the incense) the software vendor also claimed the font had a more "humanist" touch as it had to "induce trust."
Missed understanding error. "Humanist" typefaces have an oblique axis to the letter forms (eg. the crossbar in an "e" is not horizontal and aligns with the weight variation in the stokes).
(I'll get my coat: it has The Elements of Typographic Style in the pocket.)
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It appears they're pulling an Adobe to again create a perceived incompatibility.
Let's add it up:
- documents made by other (less costly and far safer) office suites will look different, and we all know that presentation is far more important than actual usable content the higher up the food chain you go (read: the people who take the decidion to buy Microsoft without any of the skills required to identify the problems they're thus buying alongside);
- Microsoft commissioned the font, so it's not publicly available other than via a bit of creativity. Yes, it will probably become available online about 3msec after someone downloads the first copy of O365 (assuming their cloudy stuff works), but it will not be legal to use if you don't pay the Microsoft tithe;
- they're using the web to distribute this font, so (a) will this work on the ever decreasing number of days that their cloud stuff works and (b) what metrics and tracking for you and others are you so enbedding, and (c) who has access to those? Will they pull a Google/Adobe by only making fonts available via their services instead of a downloadable font you can stick on your website (read: more tracking)?
So, maybe typograph specialists will be impressed. Security people should not be - observe that you have to open up a firewall hole to yet another microsoft site (https://fs.microsoft.com, which IMHO should be https://ffs.microsoft.com, but I digress) - I assume the hope is that you just set a *.microsoft.com and stop looking what else they get up to..
Font design in the modern age consists largely of adding eccentricities and making tweaks, not always pleasing, intended to render long existing fonts more quirky and appealing to modern folk. Some of this "design" consists of outright theft and renaming. The best font designs were created centuries ago and retain the qualities that have caused them to persist for so long. Technology does sometimes require certain changes and refinements, but this might more accurately be called "font editing."
Lovely - a new typeface and font. I assume accessibility studies have been conducted - it's appropriate for dyslexia, neurodiversity. It's available in every Latin language and for shaping glyphs in CJKV?
If not, go away again, Microsoft. If it's inappropriate for dyslexics and is a default, expect actions under s504 / s508 ADA at the very least. Have you run it past WCAG 2.1 AAA standards?
The use of sizes under 12pt means that they clearly haven't, since 12pt is considered the minimum accessible font size in every accessibility guide I've seen.
First thing I do when working on someone else's document is boost the size to 12pt for the main body of text so that I can read it on my screen.
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I've always felt Microsoft defaulted to a font a touch too small. Every time, I've increased it to 12pt and found the size much more accessible to me. Over the years, I've found that people took the "12pt" default, clearly thought px == pt (they aren't) and set all web fonts to 12px, which is generally 9pt.
My main use of stylus has been to fix websites to force minimum font sizes of 12pt in everything. I'm also hardly alone in desiring reasonable standard sizes. If we could get away from the era of shrinking letters, that'd be nice. The only good news? Most people seem to agree that 4pt fonts are too small. (I remember a time when T&Cs were often printed below 6pt in size on websites and on paper, even when there was no space reason to suggest such except to discourage reading.)
I just did a comparison of a few fonts. Calibri, Times New Roman, Bierstadt, Bierstadt Display and Roboto. I used the same text and 12pt size
Interestingly, Bierstadt was the widest of the fonts, with Calibri being the narrowest. None of the fonts passed the capital o vs zero test of being able to readily identify which it is without them being next to each other in a case where either would make sense.
Bierstadt and Bierstadt Display's lower case L was awkward and the tail bled into the next letter, especially apparent when the next letter was vertical as well.
None of the sans serif fonts knew how to differentiate a pipe character | from others except making the pipe a bit longer than the capital i.
Roboto "appears" to be the largest visually. Bierstadt Display and Calibri were easily the two smallest. I could not readily decide which of the two was smaller.
Times New Roman, despite being on the smaller side for apparent height, had the largest apparent spacing between words, causing (for me) the least bleeding of words into each other. The difference may not be real, but it looked that way to me.
Obviously, everyone has different preferences, mine tend to wider spacing between letters and words to make each letter easier to distinguish, as well as a more distinct visual display between each letter, but none of the "chunkiness" I find in some fonts.
My testing was similar to an eye doctor saying "is this larger/clearer, or is this one?" Looking at two lines first one, then the other, reading the whole text as well as examining selected letters commonly hard to distinguish.