In the ecosystem of typography, Times New Roman has enjoyed being on top of the font chain for some time. Because of its ubiquitous nature, Times New Roman has been influential in the subsequent development of a number of serif typefaces both before and after the start of the digital-font era.
Originally designed for The Times newspaper by Stanley Morrison, it has survived several stages of evolution. When hot metal was replaced by photo-mechanical typesetting and when that was replaced by desktop publishing, Times New Roman was always there. It has shipped free with every copy of Microsoft Windows since version 3.1 and is the default font in many applications, meaning that it’s the default typeface for amongst others – lost pet signs, the first web pages, Newsletters and Government documents.
Finally, Microsoft realized that Times New Roman is not that good to read on screen. It was the default font on Word and other platforms so far. Although Calibri will be the default font starting from Office 2007, I don’t think Microsoft is dropping Times. Just that it will be merely using Calibri as the default font in Office.
Calibri is a more legible screen font. In addition, the font prints out very nicely as well. It’s a nice, clean font with soft rounded corners. It has a warm, friendly personality that isn’t found in fonts like Arial and Helvetica. It is also the one typeface in the collection that is appropriate for use both in text sizes and larger headline sizes.
In Microsoft’s promotional booklet, ‘Now Read This’, Calibri’s designer Lucas de Groot says, “Its proportions allow high impact in tightly set lines of big and small type alike.”
He adds, “This font is suitable for documents, e-mail, Web design, and magazines.” Calibri set in regular, bold, or italic is a pleasure to read. The rounded corners create a smooth reading experience. As de Groot says, “The family has a generous width that makes reading easier by emphasizing the reading direction.”
I expect Times New Roman will always be with us, but we’ll probably be seeing a lot less of it and a lot more of Calibri. And who knows, maybe years down the road we might be able to tell who uses what OS just by looking at their printed text!