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207. Microsoft's Cleartype.

Microsoft first released their Cleartype system back in 1998. So they've been around for awhile, but for mac-based professionals, there hasn't been much to talk about until a new set of font families were included in the somewhat-recent Office 2008. (Our agency just updated this week.) I have to admit, I don't know too much about Cleartype (besides what I can read here) and all that it can do. But, I can comment on the new font families, with a little more authority.


Microsoft partnered with the Ascender Corporation and several type designers to improve the default fonts in the Office suite, and i think overall, it's a definite improvement. From the Ascender website: "each typeface family in the Microsoft ClearType Font Collection has its own personality and flair that are the hallmark of their particular designer:"

  • Calibri, designed by Luc(as) de Groot, is a sans serif design with a rich soft character that makes the font suitable for documents, email and Web design. Calibri is the new default sans serif font in Microsoft Office 2007.
  • Cambria, designed by Jelle Bosma with Steve Matteson & Robin Nicholas, is a serif design suitable for business documents. Cambria Math, designed by Jelle Bosma with Ross Mills, features an extensive character set for mathematical, scientific and technical publications. Cambria is the new default serif font in Microsoft Office 2007.
  • Candara, designed by Gary Munch, is a lively but not intrusive sans serif design suitable for email, Web design and informal settings.
  • Consolas, designed by Luc(as) de Groot, is a monospaced font (like an old typewriter) and good for programmers setting code (its core purpose).
  • Constantia, designed by John Hudson, is a modulated wedge-serif design ideal for e-book and journal publishing both online and in print.
  • Corbel, designed by Jeremy Tankard, was designed to give an uncluttered and clean appearance on screen.
  • Cariadings, designed by Geraldine Wade, is a new decorative symbol font with typographic ornaments that can be used as watermarks, border enhancements or icons.

You can download a pdf - not quite a type specimen, but still interesting - about the new releases at the Ascender link above. (Look toward the bottom of the page.) The best place to test-drive the families are here.

At first blush, Calibri looks to be the most useful and is set as the default sans. It is similar to Computer Modern Sans, but is a nice substitute. Looks to have been rendered with expert hands. I am happy they put a lot of energy in the monospace font, Consolas. Monospace fonts oftentimes get half the attention they deserve. Constantia will be used a lot, no doubt for long copy formats - though I have yet to view anything set in this face. It has a chiseled feel, with it's wedge serifs. I am hoping to work with these fonts and see how well they are taking advantage of OpenType features, how well the ligatures are rendered and substitute glyphs and such. If you have done a project using any of these faces, please share. 

From the Ascender PDF:

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