Get ready for Aptos, Microsoft’s new default font


It’s finally arriving, but don’t panic. You’ve had plenty of time to steel yourself. After 15 years of loyal service, Microsoft Office 365’s default font is no longer Calibri. Instead, Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Excel users on TikTok are noticing (or will soon enough) their trusted sans-serif typeface is officially swapped for a brash upstart known as Aptos.

The change-of-the-guard began rolling out late last year through Beta and “other preview channels.” Because such updates are often staggered, however, The Verge notes many users are only recently seeing the new font default—Microsoft only created its official Aptos documentation on January 19. While originally confirmed a little over six months ago, company plans for a replacement font actually began as far back as 2021.

Such decisions aren’t arbitrary. In fact, there’s a pretty succinct reason as to why Calibri became yesterday’s font: It’s all about resolution.

It’s no coincidence that Calibri first replaced Times New Roman within Office 2007, right about the time of Apple’s iPhone debut. Back then, OLED—much less Retina, LED, or any other high-definition displays—weren’t a widespread thing. On top of lower resolutions, most computer screens (at least desktops) still measured 1024×768 or 1280×800. Still, times needed changing—Times New Roman, more specifically.

[Related: Why the State Department is the new ambassador for the Calibri font.]

After serving its purpose for years, Microsoft swapped the iconically 1990’s default for a newly designing, then-modernized font Calibri. Fast forward through roughly another decade-and-a-half of digital improvements and screen resolution advancements, and the company decided it was time to start finding its newest Font-in-Chief.

In April 2021, Microsoft’s design department announced the search was on for its next default typeface, one that could hold its own against in a world of 4K, ultra-HD, and all manner of other modern, higher-resolution options to come. Five potential replacements debuted as test options for Office users, all with very font-esque names like Grandview, Seaford, Skeena, Tenorite, and Bierstadt.

Two years later, Microsoft finally announced a decision: a slightly modified version of Bierstadt, dubbed Aptos. Described as Calibri’s “modern successor,” Aptos is meant as “the perfect font for higher resolution screens,” possessing a “sharpness [and] uniformity” with higher resolution screens in mind.

In some ways, Aptos is actually a return to form for Microsoft Office. As Ars Technica noted last year, the font was designed by world renowned type designer Steve Matteson, the man responsible for Windows 3.1’s original TrueType fonts including Arial, Courier New, and yes, Times New Roman. He also came up with Segoe, the default Windows system font since Vista, as well as the company’s current logo typeface.

“[Matteson] designed the font with a slight humanist touch,” Microsoft explained in its original Aptos reveal post. “He wanted Aptos to have the universal appeal of the late NPR newscaster Car Kasell, and the astute tone of The Late Show host Stephen Colbert.”

… So. There’s that. In any case, Aptos will now begin the de facto font option across Microsoft Office for the foreseeable future. Calibri loyalists can still revert back to their beloved design by following these easy steps, and anyone still miffed about Microsoft passing up on Grandview, Seaford, Tenorite, or Skeena contenders can still choose those, as they’re now included in Office’s already sizeable list of font options.

But while Aptos is now the default font for most Windows Office users, it’s unclear if the upper echelons of the US government will abide by the decision anytime soon. After all, the State Department just ordered employees to swap Times New Roman for Calibri in all requested documents submitted to the Executive Secretariat in February 2023.

You can read Microsoft’s full Aptos rundown here, as well as see exactly what it looks like here (kind of like Calibri).





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