Change time(s): The State Department chooses a new official typeface

Change time(s): The State Department chooses a new official typeface

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Official correspondence from US diplomats will increase somewhat next month. Starting February 6, the US State Department will adopt Microsoft’s 14-point sans serif Calibri “for all papers submitted to the Executive Secretariat,” according to Washington Post diplomatic correspondent John Hudson.

The move sparked a somewhat biased discussion in the Ars Virtual Office earlier today. In the cable, the State Department refers to Times New Roman and Calibri as fonts. But the technical teeit should have indicated Times New Roman and Calibri as typefaces. A font is, rather, how you treat that font—change the size or weight, or the spacing of the letters, or make it italic, for example.

“If we’re being pedantic (and am I!), then a font is a pile of typeface, I guess? And yes, while switching typefaces might mean that you’re also switching the style of text you’re using, it’s not a meaningful phrase,” said a somewhat pedantic fellow. linguistically”.

But as a less shrewd colleague pointed out, “This is one of those spectacles pushing things that people who work with them all ignore on a regular basis.”

A third blamed the confusion on early word processors, “which listed various shapes as ‘lines’ and fonts as ‘line patterns.'”

Other parts of the federal government have previously expressed preferences regarding typefaces. If you are making a grant to the National Institutes of Health, for example, There are some rules and guidelines on how to format this application.

Nothing smaller than 11 points, no more than 15 characters per linear inch, and no more than six lines per vertical inch, is allowed to prevent chatty investigators from trying to fit a dissertation into R01. For fonts, Arial, Georgia, Helvetica, and Palatino Linotype are recommended but not required—our country’s leading biomedical research funding agency is ambivalent about serifs versus sans serifs, it seems.

Aesthetics were not the main reason for this change. In The Washington PostHudson wrote that “[t]A senior State Department official familiar with the change said the secretary’s decision was motivated by issues of accessibility, not aesthetics. To create problems for people who need to use optical character recognition and text-to-speech tools.

Calibri is a relatively new typeface, arriving at the turn of the century from Dutch designer Lucas de Groot. In 2007, it replaced Times New Roman as the default typeface for Microsoft Word in the realization that, from now on, most documents would be read on screens rather than printed.

In January, Secretary Anthony Blinken He directed his employees to find an accessible typefaceAnd, as the default sans serif typeface in Microsoft Office, Calibri was clearly attractive. Calibri may not be the default Microsoft Word font forever. In 2021 we learned That the company was already looking for alternatives.

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