New Fonts For Documents

month, I introduced Segoe UI
, the new user interface font for Office 12 and
Windows Vista.

Of course, you spend most of your time in Office not looking at the user
interface, but working with documents.  Times New Roman has been Word’s
default font since Word 6.0 introduced support for TrueType fonts.  Although there are numerous other options available, most documents today
are produced in Times New Roman, Arial, or more recently the Web-friendly choice Verdana.

Office 12 ships with six brand new fonts designed for use with the content in
your document.  Each of the fonts is optimized for ClearType and suitable
for use both on-screen and in printed documents.

Below, courtesy of Microsoft’s Advanced Reading Technology team, are pictures of
the six new fonts along with brief descriptions of each font.

Consolas is aimed for use in programming environments and other
circumstances where a monospaced font is specified. All characters have the
same width, like old typewriters, making it a good choice for personal and
business correspondence. The improved Windows font display allowed a design
with proportions closer to normal text than traditional monospaced fonts
like Courier. This allows for more comfortably reading of extended text on
screen. OpenType features include hanging or lining numerals; slashed,
dotted and normal zeros; and alternative shapes for a number of lowercase
letters. The look of text can be tuned to personal taste by varying the
number of bars and waves.

Calibri is a modern sans serif family with subtle roundings on stems
and corners. It features real italics, small caps, and multiple numeral
sets. Its proportions allow high impact in tightly set lines of big and
small text alike. Calibri’s many curves and the new rasteriser team up in
bigger sizes to reveal a warm and soft character.

Cambria has been designed for on-screen reading and to look good when
printed at small sizes. It has very even spacing and proportions. Diagonal
and vertical hairlines and serifs are relatively strong, while horizontal
serifs are small and intend to emphasize stroke endings rather than stand
out themselves. This principle is most noticeable in the italics where the
lowercase characters are subdued in style to be at their best as elements of
word-images. When Cambria is used for captions at sizes over 20 point, the
inter-character spacing should be slightly reduced for best results. The
design isn’t just intended for business documents: The regular weight has
been extended with a large set of math and science symbols. The Greek and
Cyrillic has been designed under close supervision of an international team
of experts, who aimed to set a historical new standard in multi-script type

Constantia is a modulated wedge-serif typeface designed primarily for
continuous text in both electronic and paper publishing. The design responds
to the recent narrowing of the gap between screen readability and
traditional print media, exploiting specific aspects of the most recent
advances in ClearType rendering, such as sub-pixel positioning. The classic
proportions of relatively small x-height and long extenders make Constantia
ideal for book and journal publishing, while the slight squareness and open
counters ensure that it remains legible even at small sizes.

Corbel is designed to give an uncluttered and clean appearance on
screen. The letter forms are open with soft, flowing curves. It is legible,
clear and functional at small sizes. At larger sizes the detailing and style
of the shapes is more apparent resulting in a modern sans serif type with a
wide range of possible uses.

Candara is a casual humanist sans with verticals showing a graceful
entasis on stems, high-branching arcades in the lowercase, large apertures
in all open forms, and unique ogee curves on diagonals. The resultant
texture is lively but not intrusive, and makes for a friendly and readable

Comments (61)

  1. tzagotta says:

    1. Is the default font changing from Times New Roman to one of these?

    2. Is it just a coincidence that all these font names start with ‘C’?

  2. Andreas Lann says:

    But is Times new roman still going to be the default font?

  3. jojjo says:

    Giving all the fonts such similar names seems like bad usability design to me. "What font have you used?" "You know, the one… that starts with a C… Can-, Com-, Cal-something."

    Wasn’t O12 supposed to be the new kid in town regarding usability?

  4. ChrisC says:

    Cool: Consolas ~= Console.

    That I can remember, thanks!

    Two questions:

    1) features include… slashed, dotted and normal zeros

    Q: Which of these zeros is the default?

    2) The look of text can be tuned to personal taste by varying the number of bars and waves.

    Q: And this means what? Is there an additional setting so I can have zeroes displayed as slashed and my ‘mainframe background’ cube-mate can have them displayed as dotted?

    (I didn’t notice anything relevant in the blog you referenced – if there is, just say where)

  5. Having published a few newsletters, I’m looking forward to using these new fonts. They are quite friendly.

    At the same time, the font descriptions remind me of some wine reviews…"it has an open, friendly design with just a hint of broccoli. The T’s are assertive, while the I’s are impetuous. All in all, the paragraph ends cleanly and leaves a fruity, apricot feeling."

    But I will never, ever try the Merlot font! No, No, No!!!

  6. Sherrod Segraves says:

    The Cambria and Constantia samples scream for ffi ligatures. I hope Office 12 will finally have automatic support for ligatures.

    I love the lowercase (old style) numerals in the samples. I also hope Office 12 makes lowercase numerals easy to use.

    Consolas is very readable for a monospace font, but there really isn’t much point for using monospace with programming. Garamond is attractive, reasonably compact, and its small x-height makes camel case code easy to read.

    Some of the newer fonts that Microsoft releases (like Verdana and Calibri) look very open and inviting at first glance. But I find the extra spacing between letters makes them tiring for more than a paragraph or so. Is it just me?

  7. anon says:

    Since fonts are not embedded within the documents, is it the same bogus fallback scenario all non-Office 2006 users will have to deal with? The bogus implementation is that older versions of Office don’t warn that they are not able to properly render the document, but that does not stop the UI from showing the font names although random (some people would say similar, but I don’t buy it) fonts are used in place.

    Aren’t fonts inherently an operating system thing? What has that anything to do with Office?

  8. Dan McCarty says:

    BTW, does anyone know how to pronounce "Segoe"? Is the e on the end silent?

    Calibri, Cambria, Candara, Consolas, Constantina and Corbel. All these new fonts start with either Co* or Ca*. That’s going to be real fun for people who use Ctrl+Shift+F to type the name of the font they want. Also, with the exception of Consolas, in my experience most users won’t be able to remember which font looks like what because the names are too indistinct.

    Walter: that was hilarious!

  9. orcmid says:

    OK, I wondered about this before when I read about Candara, and I’ll ask it here. What makes Candara and any other font a "humanist font?"

    Can people who object to being associated with humanists find a fundamentalist font in the O12 support? Will there be a mono-fundamentalist regime, or is there multi-fundamentalist support?

    Kidding aside, I really do want to understand the use of the term applied to fonts.

  10. barrkel says:

    I still see no evidence of ligatures.

    Historically, documents produced by WinWord are obvious by their ugliness compared to TeX output, due to lack of fi / ffi etc. ligatures.

    As a complete non-expert looking in, it would seem that the ligature problem could be solved in a similar way to the way the Arabic combining system works.

  11. Colin Nicholls says:

    >> there really isn’t much point for using monospace with programming.<<

    I, and many of my programmer peers, would beg to differ with you.

    I use Bitstream Vera Sans Mono for programming. It rocks. Consolas seems very similar, worth a look.

  12. Orion Adrian says:

    I’ve been using Consolas for several months now in Visual Studio and I love it. It’s a great font for all your monospace needs.

    I have to concur with the thing about them all starting with C. I know the logic was that would put them all in the same place in the selection screen, but I feel it hurts memory.

    And finally, did you write the comments on each one. They sound like something that would come from the font authors or some other expert on fonts. I don’t know if you are or not; just curious.

  13. jensenh says:

    Yes, one of these will be the new default font. We’re still in the process of determining which one.

  14. Chris Nahr says:

    Consolas? Bah, Lucida Console is still prettier… :p

    Just kidding, the new fonts do look good. I’m just a little confused… do we really desperately need six new fonts? It’s not like Windows and especially Office didn’t already have a bunch, and it’s not as if Microsoft was the only font foundry.

    Meanwhile, the Font selection list in our word processors grow longer and less usable with every new Windows font. How about setting some of these font designers to work on a built-in font manager instead, so that we can hide the fonts we don’t want?

    (Outright uninstalling a font is tricky because something might break, and an update installation or MSI repair might re-install the font…)

    barrkel: While the TeX is perpetually stuck in 1970, smart people have invented Unicode which defines code points for ligatures. They’re not shown in such small samples, but most Unicode fonts have fi and fl, and "expert" fonts have a full set. You need a typesetting application like Adobe InDesign to use them automatically, or you can enter them manually via Character Map in Word.

  15. jensenh says:

    Segoe is pronounced SEE-go as I understand it. Silent e at the end, emphasis on the first syllable.

    I’m known to incorrectly pronounce it with the emphasis on the second syllable…

  16. jensenh says:


    Nah, I didn’t write the font descriptions. As I mentioned in the article, they’re courtesy of the Advanced Reading Technology team, which has a blog here:

  17. jensenh says:


    I’m not sure how they all ended up with all ‘C’ names. I agree it could be confusing.

    Maybe the font guys can stop by and explain the story of how they all ended up with ‘C’ names…

  18. Brian says:

    I just tried Consolas in VS2005. I’ll never do that again. It appears that a quarter of the letters (M, w, v–pretty much any with diagonal lines) are ghosted, and the rest bold, both on a LCD and CRT at point sizes 8 and 9. I’ll stick with Courier New or Lucinda, thanks. Comfortably Readable? Absolutely not. 🙁 I was looking forward to it, too.

  19. jensenh says:

    anon (if that is your real name):

    Office has always installed a number of fonts; this is not really something new.

    In this case, the fonts were designed to complement the new facilities in Office 12 to create great looking documents, so they’re really part of the user experience. (You’ll see how this is so as I introduce a number of other features in this area.)

    Plus, the default font in Word/Excel/PowerPoint will be updated to be one of these…

  20. jensenh says:


    Do you have ClearType on or off? Consolas is designed to be used if you use ClearType.

  21. Si says:

    >I’ll never do that again.

    Before you give up, please turn on ClearType, make sure your LCD panel is running at its native resolution and tune your ClearType settings…

    Cheers, Si

  22. Boris Yankov says:

    I tried Consolas in Delphi, ClearType on.

    It rocks!

    Brian, I have no idea why you tested it at 8 and 9 sizes. It seems the font is smaller than my previous one. You should try 11.

    In fact I am using it at 13 right now. It fits 100 characters per line at my 1792×1344 display and looks cool.

    Btw Janses, I think it was you that said Segoe UI will be allowed to be available to older Windows version? Can you elaborate on this?

  23. anon says:

    "Office has always installed a number of fonts; this is not really something new. "

    You’ve missed the entire point. There are three bugs (or three end user frustrations depending on how you call these) :

    – the publisher creates a document, shares it, and receives feedback from recipient that the document looks like crap, i.e. the publisher used special fonts that were part of his own install (just like those new 2006 fonts you refer to).

    – older versions of Word don’t even warn when opening a document that they won’t render the text with the proper font anytime the font is not there.

    – the Word UI, for instance, puts the font in the UI controls related to the font even though the text is not rendered with that font. This is not only misleading, it does not make sense at all.

    And again, fonts are an operating system thing, not an application thing. I’d expect the new fonts to be part of a service pack, not an application, no matter how many users you’ll have by 2008. And don’t forget, Office 2006 begins with a 0-user install base the day it ships.

    Sorry for being a bit technical. I guess that’s not the point of your post. But this shocked me.

  24. Si says:

    >Btw Janses, I think it was you that said Segoe UI will be allowed to be available to older Windows version? Can you elaborate on this?

    The Windows MSX team are working on a plan. There are various complexities that still need to be thought through.

  25. tzagotta says:

    anon, If MS Office ships with these fonts, eventually they’ll be on everyone’s machine, including XP users, as folks upgrade to O12.

    I don’t think it has been said yet, but I’ll bet the plan is also to ship these (and other) new fonts with Vista.

    So, really both angles are covered – the new fonts are deployed with both the OS and with Vista. But your point is well-taken, that non-Vista, non-O12 users should also have access to these fonts so they can view other folks’ documents.

  26. Mo says:

    Jensen – Thanks for providing so much insight. I’ve often wondered what purpose certain fonts are meant to serve. I poked around the font blog you referenced, but I haven’t found a resource online (or in the word help) that gives descriptions for all existing fonts. Do you know if one exists?



  27. Ti says:

    May be people here don’t realize they can include fonts with the documents???

  28. Anon2 says:

    Is cleartype requried for these new fonts? I don’t use it because I find it makes things harder to see, and the edges are blurry (and I’m not using a CRT).

  29. Si says:

    >What makes Candara and any other font a "humanist font?"

    This wiki provides a good overview of the different sans-serif styles. Basically you have three styles – the industrial (AKA grotesques), the geometric, and the humanist style. "Humanist sans typefaces more directly mimic the forms and structures of calligraphy, and generally have somewhat eccentric, more classical shapes. Humanist sans faces have more modulated strokes, and their italics are frequently more directly based on cursive writing."

  30. Si says:

    >but I haven’t found a resource online (or in the word help) that gives descriptions for all existing fonts.

    Many of the fonts we ship include embedded descriptions – use this tool to get at them easily.

  31. Si says:

    >Is cleartype requried for these new fonts?

    While no font "requires" ClearType these fonts were designed to take advantage of it. Under regular antialiasing or bi-level aliased rendering the fonts don’t look as good. See this post for side-by-sides…

    >I don’t use it because I find it makes things harder to see, and the edges are blurry

    The most important things to do here are make sure the LCD panel is set to its native resolution, and then run the tuner…

  32. Malcolm says:

    > While no font "requires" ClearType these fonts were designed to take advantage of it. Under regular antialiasing or bi-level aliased rendering the fonts don’t look as good.

    So what about us dinosaurs still using CRTs? Are we stuck with ugly looking fonts?

  33. Si says:

    >So what about us dinosaurs still using CRTs? Are we stuck with ugly looking fonts?

    The ClearType tuner may help somewhat.

  34. professional web design says:

    what’s with the c?

  35. Dave Solimini says:

    as a fontaholic (1124 and counting), i have to say i like these fonts. they feel open, which is important when considering the UI goals of Windows Vista… but i have to echo the sentiment that having them all start with C is a problem for remembering which is being used.


  36. Brian says:

    Oddly, I knew about ClearType, but for some reason thought it was on by default in XP–I even looked in my control panel and display settings for ClearType settings. I never found them. Once I downloaded the powertoy and tuned it, it (8pt Consolas) looks great on BOTH the CRT (21" 1600×1200) and the LCD (19" 1280×1024).

    In response to Boris: I have no idea where you got an LCD monitor that could display 1792×1344, but let me assure you that if your max resolution is 1280×1024, 13pt type is NOT an option.

    Now that it’s working properly I’m very happy to be using it… thinner monotype is always a blessing.

  37. Mario Goebbels says:

    What do you mean by "multiple numeral sets" on Calibri? I’ve been complaining because the old style lining numerals were removed from the newer version in Office. Now this multiple sets thing makes me think they’re still in the font somewhere. If that’s the case, how can I make Office use one of the others sets than the default?

  38. Dan McCarty says:

    Si, re:

    I’m glad you posted a screenshot of Candara/Calibri without ClearType. Take a look at the em’s in the grayscale sample. Why do they all have so much trailing space after them? It’s very distracting. (And it’s even worse than plain b/w.)

    We use Win2K here at work, so ClearType-tuned fonts leave something to be desired at the moment.

  39. Si says:

    >Take a look at the em’s in the grayscale sample.

    The fontblog blog uses IE’s embedded fonts feature to deliver content displayed using the fonts mentioned – these are rendered depending on the user settings. The fonts being used are pre-release versions, and I know that efforts are underway to improve the rendering quality under grayscale.

  40. Peter says:

    >The Greek and Cyrillic has been designed under close supervision of an international team of experts

    Nice to hear this. Cyrillic letters (especially small "be") looked terrible in Times New Roman; I hope, new fonts will improve the situation.

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