Designed by typographer Luc(as) De Groot, the Calibri® font family was commissioned by Microsoft in 2002 to accentuate the strengths of their ClearType technology. It is the default typeface in several of Microsoft’s applications. It is a humanist sans serif typeface, known for its warmth and rounded lines.
Stemming from advancements made during the development of e-book technology, Microsoft found itself in the early 2000s with a unique software-based system for improving the resolution and display quality of fonts on any hardware. With that in mind, Microsoft assembled a group of designers in 2002 to design a font collection that would accentuate the strengths of the new rasterizer in a wide array of languages, including Greek and Mandarin.
One of the members of this worldwide, virtual team was Luc(as) de Groot, a German typographer and the head of font foundry, fontfabrik. Tasked with developing a sans serif font, de Groot sourced material he had developed for an earlier project for television broadcasting. The result subtly rounded and curved; however, since de Groot did not have access to the improved ClearType technology, he was concerned that the subtle curves of his new typeface would not translate to the screen. He then designed a less rounded second option and submitted both to Microsoft for approval.
Microsoft, seeing that the rounded version of the Calibri design worked astonishingly well with the ClearType technology, approved de Groot’s original version. They quickly deployed it to their flagship product, the Office® suite of solutions. Since then, the Calibri design has become one of the most prominent typefaces in current use.
The tight layout of Calibri gives it a flexibility that allows it to work in a wide range of text sizes. Like its sister fonts in the humanist sans serif category, it has two-story a’s and g’s and has a high legibility. Another marked characteristic is the foreshortened tail of the “y”.
Microsoft’s release of Calibri and its implementation as the default font in many of their applications was met with general approval. The ClearType collection, in tandem with the improved rasterizer technology, was seen as an important step in developing fonts primarily for digital media and screen display. The Calibri design’s warmth and roundedness fit well with the new millennium and the shift in business practices across the globe, reflecting the flexibility and open-mindedness of the new digital age.
Calibri has been the default font for all versions of Microsoft Office since Office 2007. It is also used by Microsoft as the default typeface on all other software in the Office suite – including PowerPoint, Outlook, and Excel. It was also adopted by Google Docs, one of Microsoft Office’s competitors, in September of 2010.