MS Office 2007 Fonts – Do they look good on the Web?

More and more I’m seeing MS Office 2007 fonts like Calibri used as the first choice font on Web sites. These fonts, released with Office 2007, are seeing a wider and wider distribution as desktops are updated to Windows 7 and are seen as a good alternative to the tired old fonts we’ve come to know and be bored with.

But are they really compatible with the Web?

While I don’t fault designers for wanting to use a new and different font, there are some caveats to the use of these new choices from Microsoft.MS font examples

First, their X size (base size compared to other fonts) is skewed toward a smaller size, especially in headers. This can throw the whole look of a page off when viewed in other fonts.

Second, while touted as “ClearType” fonts,  Calibri and Corbel aren’t so clear at smaller sizes, at least on non-windows machines. This example is at 12px and the MS Fonts aren’t as clear as their Web safe cohorts.

Third, the header font weight is a bit light compared to the fonts they might be replacing. A header with a certain impact when viewed in Calibri will have a completely different feel when seen in Arial.

None of this would make a difference if we were all looking at Web pages in Internet Explorer on Windows 7, but that’s hardly the case. More and more browsing is done on Apple and Android mobile devices which don’t have Microsoft fonts installed and will be viewing the sites in other fonts like Arial or Helvetica.

I celebrate the use of these new fonts. Finally we’re getting some new base fonts that can take the hum drum out of Web design. These new fonts can be useful as long as their differences, when compared with the rest of the font family they’ll be pared with, are considered.

All apologies to Lewis Carroll


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