The U.S. State Department Officially Cancels Times New Roman Font After Nearly 20 Years. Here's Why. It's not the first typeface to be dismissed — the last big shake-up took place in 2004.
"The Times (New Roman) are A-Changin," U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken quipped in a message to staff on Tuesday.
That's right: According to the cable and a series of tweets from a reporter for The Washington Post, the U.S. State Department is retiring Times New Roman after nearly two decades, citing "issues for individuals with disabilities" that come with serif fonts. Calibri will be the new standard.
big news for font freaks: Times New Roman is being phased out at the State Department & replaced by Calibri. Secretary Blinken sent a cable to all embassies today directing staff not to send him any more papers with Times New Roman. Subject: "The Times (New Roman) are a-Changin" pic.twitter.com/HENLbRH3UQ— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) January 17, 2023
Nearly 20 years ago, in late January 2004, Times New Roman 14 was the "new" font on the scene — replacing Courier New 12, which Slate likened to "an aging, elegant diplomat whose crisp, cream-colored linen suit and genteel demeanor now seem winningly old-fashioned."
But Times New Roman itself was hardly modern at that point: It was created by the British typographer Stanley Morison for the Times of London in 1932, according to the New York Public Library.
Serif fonts have ornamental lines or tapers (also known as "tails" or "feet") that can cause accessibility issues for people with disabilities who use Optical Character Recognition technology or screen readers. Additionally, it can introduce visual recognition problems for those with learning disabilities.
Calibri is a digital sans-serif typeface ("without" those decorative appendages) in the human or modernist style.
The new font is also the default on Microsoft products, and per the tweeted screenshot, was recommended as an accessibility best practice by the Secretary's Office of Diversity and Inclusion in collaboration with other departments.