Microsoft is changing the default Office font next year and wants everyone to help choose the new one. While Word has over 700 font options, Microsoft has commissioned five new custom fonts for Office, a defection from the Calibri font that has been the default in Microsoft Office for nearly 15 years.
The five new sans-serif fonts come in a variety of styles, such as traditional, modern, and one inspired by German road and railway signs. Microsoft is starting to collect feedback on these five new fonts today, intending to make one of them the new Office default font in 2022.
Tenorite is the most 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.
Steve Matteson's Bierstadt is inspired by mid-century Swiss typography. The stroke endings are cut off, but there is some subtle softening to avoid the rigid grid-based typography that is typical of a font like this. Matteson has attempted to contrast Microsoft's Arial font with Helvetica, the most famous example of this type of "grotesque san serif" font.
Skeena, designed by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow, is influenced by various eras of font design. It has a lot of variation in the thickness and width of its letters and very distinct curves on letters like S, A, and J.
Seaford, designed by Tobias Frere-Jones, Nina Stössinger, and Fred Shallcrass, is 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 bring a classic, valued font back to life without the serifs.
Grandview is the most eye-catching of the five new fonts. Aaron Bell designed it with inspiration from classic German road and railway signage. This font, like the signs, is intended to be highly legible, with some modifications to make it more comfortable for long-form reading.
Once Microsoft has handpicked a winner, and the company will spend the next few months evaluating these new fonts and determining which ones are popular. After a decision is made, the new default font will be available in Microsoft Office apps in 2022.