Next year, Microsoft will change the default Office font, and everyone is invited to help choose the new default. While Word has over 700 font options, Microsoft has commissioned five new custom fonts for Office, marking a departure from the Calibri font, which has been the default for nearly 15 years.
Traditional, modern, and even one inspired by German road and railway signs are among the five new sans-serif fonts. Microsoft is collecting feedback on these five new fonts now, with the goal of announcing one as the new Office default font in 2022.
Tenorite is the more traditional of the five styles, created by Erin McLaughlin and Wei Huang. With wide characters, accents, and clear punctuation, it almost looks like a more modern version of the default Times New Roman font from decades ago.
Skeena, designed by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow, is influenced by a variety of font design eras. It has a lot of thickness and thinness variation in its letters and very distinct curves on letters like S, A, and J.
Steve Mattison’s Bierstadt is inspired by mid-century Swiss typography. Although the stroke endings are clearly cut off, there is some subtle softening to avoid the rigid grid-based typography that is typical of this type of font. Mattison has also attempted to contrast Microsoft’s Arial font with Helvetica, the most famous example of this type of “grotesque san serif” font. The font is named after a rocky mountain in Colorado that reminds Mattison of the Swiss Alps.
Tobias Frere-Jones, Nina Stössinger, and Fred Shallcrass’ Seaford are the most instantly recognizable of the bunch, evoking classic old-style serif text typefaces. The designers were inspired by old armchairs to come up with a practical way to reintroduce a beloved font without the serifs. I’ve been trying out all of Word’s new fonts, and this one seems to be the most comfortable for reading long documents.
The most striking of the five new fonts is Grandview. It was designed by Aaron Bell and is based on classic German road and railway signage. This font is designed to be highly legible, similar to the signs, with some tweaks to make it more comfortable for long-form reading. Grandview appears to be a good fit for PowerPoint slides, based on the spirit of the German industrial standard.
Microsoft is now making these five new fonts available in Microsoft 365 so that everyone can try them out before deciding on a new default. Microsoft will use polls and feedback to determine the winner, and the company will spend the next few months evaluating the new fonts and determining which ones are popular. The new default font will appear in Microsoft Office apps in 2022 once a decision has been made.