A new Font for Microsoft Word 2007 and the World


you better get used to it…

In Microsoft Word 2007, the default font is no longer Times New Roman. A fresh install gives us Cambria for our default. This is not just a change in the toolbar arrangement of MS Word–but an underhanded introduction of a new default for the majority of people who write words on computers. Do you write words on computers?

It’s not a bad font, and only looks slightly more rounded than Times New Roman. I’m not concerned that Cambria will be anything negative once we begin to see it a lot more, I just think this moment (font re-defaulting) will slip by if no one stops for a minute to thinks about what a new MS Word default really means.
We live in a Windows-centric world, but more importantly, we live in an MS Word-dominated world. If Cambria becomes the default for Word–poof: it becomes the default for the world.

Microsoft Word’s default is ‘our’ font in the sense that it is what kids will unwittingly use to write their first sentence and what UN diplomats will compose memos with. In a strange way, Cambria is the new invisible hand of Microsoft Word forcing itself on the aesthetic field of the written word.

The flavor of Cambria.
It’s not very different, but there’s something less formal about it:


Times New Roman has solidity, and retains some gothic flourishes from olde British sensibilities embedded in the land of its birth.

And larger, Cambria’s softness really comes through.

Cambria (top), Times New Roman (bottom) [size 48 pt]

So how does a font spread across the world? Slowly… I first found it in the preview section of JSTOR, an academic database that many colleges and universities subscribe to. All the pdfs generated by the preview section are titled with Cambria:


Does this mean JSTOR pdf’s are generated on Microsoft Word? Probably not–it’s more likely that in the preview redesign, the titling system was similarly redesigned to the next generation generic font: Cambria.

We don’t even need to get ready for it, because it’s already here

As people update Microsoft Word, architects, marketers, politicians, and dog-walkers will all be confronted with a decision: Should I take the effort to change my default font back to Times New Roman, or will I let Microsoft (once again) tell me that Cambria is the flavor of the decade?

On Microsoft’s Developer Network Fontblog, the exuberance of ‘cleartype’ technology overshadows what changing the default font means. Mike with no last name writes:

Now that Vista and Office 2007 have shipped, we would like to send out a pointer to some online typographic samples of the ClearType font collection. All of these brand new fonts ship with Vista, and Office 2007. Calibri and Cambria are included in Office as the new defaults.

In total, Microsoft has added six new fonts: Calibri, Cambria, Candara, Consolas, Constantia, Corbel.

Here’s some particulars about Cambria [from ascendors corp]:

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 design.

Cambria was tuned for ClearType rendering environment and will be included with Windows Vista and Office 2007. Type Designer: Jelle Bosma, with Steve Matteson and Robin Nicholas

So it appears we can make a timeline for default fonts:
1981-2007: Times New Roman
2007-20XX: Cambria
What’s to come?

And this new interface is a whole new story:

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