back to article Microsoft kicks Calibri to the curb for Aptos as default font

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- …

  1. Mockup1974 Bronze badge

    >Bierstadt

    SOUL

    >Aptos

    SOULLESS

  2. jonha
    Pint

    Wow, I'd never have thought to read anything about Bierstadt (the WI suburb) in El Reg. Lived there many years ago for a while before moving to Frauenstadt.

    Never say never.

    1. abend0c4 Silver badge

      The path from Bier to Frauen is well-trodden.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well trodden whilst wearing bierstiefel, that is.

    2. davoy

      Know what's even weirder ? Getting a comment from someone who is currently living there !!! Crazy. So you moved to Frauenstein ?

  3. Primus Secundus Tertius

    I like serifs

    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.

    1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Re: I like serifs

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I like serifs

        Try Constantia. It's sans serif but 1, I and l are all easily distinguishable without the whole font feeling like you're using a browser made by the Daily Telegraph.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: I like serifs

          Are you sure you got the name right? Every reference I can fint to Constantia says it's a serif font.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I like serifs

            You're right. I was mixing it up with Corbel. There is Tahoma which solves the matching glyphs but it feels similarly dead like Calibri.

            1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

              Re: I like serifs

              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.

    2. Snake Silver badge

      Re: set our own preferences

      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.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: set our own preferences

        Yea for modernity and symmetry. Who needs legibility and unambiguity?

        1. LionelB Silver badge

          Re: set our own preferences

          Or... actual books?

          1. Matthew 25

            Re: set our own preferences

            Me. I need books. Reading from a screen can be really hard. Much prefer paper.

            1. ThatOne Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: set our own preferences

              Books are wasteful: You can't switch them off.

            2. LionelB Silver badge

              Re: set our own preferences

              Did I set the irony bar too high?

    3. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: I like serifs

      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?.

      1. MrBanana

        Re: I like serifs

        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. ]

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: I like serifs

        Sans Serif are better to read where there is more text

        Citation needed.

        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.

    4. Tim99 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: I like serifs

      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?

    5. NATTtrash
      Stop

      Re: I like serifs

      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...

      1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

        Re: I like serifs

        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.

  4. Georgski

    > Cleartype, neat software trickery that won't stand up to today's 4K screens

    Anyone know why this is so?

    I would have thought a super high res screen makes it “unnecessary but harmless”

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Joke

      Let's give the font nerds a Bottle of Ginger

    2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      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).

      1. Anonymous Cowpilot

        42"

        I am pretty sure most office users are not using 42" or above displays. I which case "it may be true if your using a 27" display" means it's mostly true.

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Re: 42"

          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...

  5. ske1fr
    Mushroom

    Trust?

    Microsoft? Does this font do some kind of subliminal messaging? No. Not now not ever. And I say that as somone who did thst MCSE bollocks back in the day.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Trust?

      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.

  6. gormful

    So the lower-case "l" doesn't look like a capital "I". Instead, it looks just like the digit "1".

    Such progress. Much wow.

    1. Falmari Silver badge

      Lower case L does not look like the digit 1 in Aptos. It has a short tail, it does not have a preceding inclined line at the top of the vertical line like 1 does.

      Also in Aptos the 1 looks the same as a 1 in Arial as it has no bottom bar.

  7. rmacd

    Goodbye, good riddance

    Genuinely think Calibri is among one of the worst mainstream fonts out there. Not sorry to see it go. Can’t put a finger on it. Just ugly, looks bloated. Arial all the way.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Goodbye, good riddance

      I prefer Helvetica then, because that works across all platforms.

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Goodbye, good riddance

        Although it comes with the constant danger of The Helvetica Scenario.

      2. Porco Rosso

        Re: Goodbye, good riddance

        Helvetica is a big yes but my favorite is " Nokia Pure "

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Goodbye, good riddance

      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.

  8. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    I really like Calibri. I wish I could get it for Ubuntu.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Search and ye shall find. There seem to be several sites offering downloads. Alternatively Carlito is pretty close.

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    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.

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      "Sans serif fonts are the triumph of form (for some values of form) over function."

      My handwriting(*) doesn't contain serifs, and I don't think adding them would ameliorate the readability one bit.

      (* it's more Comic Sans, really)

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Your cursive writing probably joins l (or is that I) on to other letters. But do you, like myself, put cross bars at the top and bottom on I (or is that l)? I doubt you use cursive writing for numbers.

      2. PRR Silver badge

        > 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.

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          > Also a lot of handwritten "digit ones", especially it seems around Germany, have a huge top serif, sometimes an upside down V.

          Confirmed. We love to have clear numbers/characters which cannot be misread.

          1. DCdave

            Misread is a matter of perspective

            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.

            1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

              Re: Misread is a matter of perspective

              > it does make me wonder

              Computer are not as sloppy as humans at font rendering. Therefore we manage fine with computers no crossing out the 7.

            2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

              Re: Misread is a matter of perspective

              I write sevens with a bar but ones without a cross and I've gone back to English 9s but I use Dutch 8s, becuse they're pretty symmetrical. The cross actually comes from the arabic form but I do think it's redundant.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Misread is a matter of perspective

              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.)

          2. Charlie Clark Silver badge
            Stop

            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.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        My handwriting is completely illegible anyway, so such confusion can't occur as nobody has any idea which glyphs were intended.

        Not even me.

    2. MrBanana

      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.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        I'm very pleased that my Kobo readers have always come with an option for a dyslexic typeface. Though I'm not dyslexic myself, I do frequently misread and it's nice to be able to switch it on to force myself to read more carefully.

  10. Wade Burchette

    I don't care about this new font. I will stick with Courier New any day of the week!

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Stay away with that newfangled nonsense

      Sadly El Reg does not allow <p style="font-family:'DOS','Fixedsys';"></p>

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Fortunately, renders as Monaco on my machine. And that's the beauty of letting the user decide.

  11. Gordon 11

    It's actually picking a typeface.

    A font is a typeface at one point size.

    The article actually starts by getting this right, then wanders off curse in the same sentence.

    1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      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.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Isn't the font also the style? Italic, bold, condensed, etc.

      At the end of the day I don't think it's really much of a problem: people are invariably referring to speicific fonts and use a perfectly sensible collective "familly" for grouping.

  12. Walt Dismal

    your fate

    In the future, you will own nothing, eat bugs, and only use Aptos. Any deviations and you will be tattoed all over your peasant body with Comic Sans and given to the dogs for sport. Microsoft is uber alles.

  13. Alumoi Silver badge

    ...Segoe, the font of the Windows 11 system UI

    Damn it man, when were you born?

    That fugly monstrosity was baked in Windows 7. You know, the last usable OS Microsoft released?

    1. Primus Secundus Tertius

      Re: ...Segoe, the font of the Windows 11 system UI

      Segoe script is a useful font if you are printing a document and you don't want it copied by OCR. Its joined up characters defeat all the OCR programs I have tried.

    2. Sandtitz Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: ...Segoe, the font of the Windows 11 system UI

      "That fugly monstrosity was baked in Windows 7."

      Damn it man, when were you born?

      That fine font was baked in Windows Vista.

      1. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: ...Segoe, the font of the Windows 11 system UI

        Sorry, I've skipped THAT fulgy monstrosity.

  14. richardcox13
    Coat

    "Hu8manisr" is a Term de Jour in Typography

    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.)

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: "Hu8manisr" is a Term de Jour in Typography

      I was going to say that as well.

      Examples of Humanist fonts include

      Frutiger - used for signs in many airports around the world, and in NHS England

      Johnson - used by Transport for London in its signs

      1. Roj Blake Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: "Hu8manisr" is a Term de Jour in Typography

        It's Johnston that TfL uses, not Johnson.

        As such, we can all rest assured that it has nothing to do with Alexander Boris de Pfeffel.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is most likely a new incompatibility ploy.

    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..

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: This is most likely a new incompatibility ploy.

      "so it's not publicly available other than via a bit of creativity"

      It was already available under the previous moniker along with the other candidates. I downloaded it. It's just another meh sans serif.

  17. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

    Finally l and I don't look so somilar any more.

    Helevita/Arial/Calibri - and MANY others - hat the same issue:

    I looks like l which looks like | - when design has higher priority than function.

    The 6 and 8 thingy may be specifically for Xerox-friendly :D.

  18. Arezzo

    Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

    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."

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

      The best font designs were created centuries ago

      Aptos[Apophis]

  19. amacater

    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?

    1. mmccul

      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.

  20. aerogems Silver badge

    As far as I'm concerned, as long as I can easily tell the difference between say a lower-case "L" and an upper-case "I" I'm reasonably happy.

  21. CAPS LOCK

    Eurostile bold extended...

    ... for future-proofing...

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Eurostile bold extended...

      That won't be acceptable to Brexiteers

  22. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Well, That's Ugly

    Both Blocky, and Flat.

  23. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Linux

    Sustainability

    Which consumes less power to render?

    Taken at a global level, say over one year, it could be a significant figure.

    icon: Melting antarctic glaciers

  24. FatGerman

    I wonder how this will affect those of us who run Office 365 in a browser on a system where this font isn't available? Hope they've set a good fallback... probably Calibri.

  25. navarac Silver badge

    Renaming

    Microsoft seems to have a penchant for renaming everything. Even fonts. Haven't they got anything better to deal with? FFS!

  26. Binraider Silver badge

    Dealing with the I / L issue is most welcome. I have lost count the number of borked spreadsheets with it.

  27. david 12 Silver badge

    8, 9 or 11 point ?

    Just dropped in to point out that 'point' is not a fixed size. Different type foundries -- and hence different publishers -- use different absolute sizes (mm) for a 'point'. For example MS and Apple.

  28. markr555

    What is a curb??

    The word you're looking for is kerb, you need to curb your lack of enthusiasm for proof-reading!

  29. This post has been deleted by its author

  30. mmccul

    Too small

    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.)

  31. mmccul

    Compared and found lacking

    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.

  32. jlturriff

    All I have to say is, "a plague upon software developers who force sans-serif fonts on their users."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That was nicely written in sans-serif ....

      All I have to say is, "a plague upon software developers who force serif fonts on their users."

  33. Bitbeisser

    Well, looks like a new fresh wind is blowing through Microsoft. After all the previous product updates featuring always new icons and/or emojis as the headliner, looks like they come up with something new and vaguely more relevant...

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like