Historic change at the State Department on how to write official documentation
The Department of State of the US ordered its employees to phase out the source Times New Roman and replace it with Calibri in all the official documents and communications to help those with visual impairments or other reading difficultiesreported the newspaper The Washington Post.
According to information from the aforementioned media, the secretary of state Anthony Blinken asked to use a larger typeface in high-level or classified internal documents and gave a deadline until the next February 6th for all department offices to adopt the measure and use Calibri as standard font.
According to an internal communication sent by Blinken, this change will make it easier for people with disabilities who use some type of technology such as screen readers to read documents. According to the washington post, this decision was recommended by the Secretary’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion and caused discomfort to older employees who have been writing in Times New Roman all communications and memoranda of the institution.
Several sources consulted by the mentioned American newspaper described the measure as a “sacrilege” and foresee an internal revolt since the Department of State is using the source Times New Roman as a standard font since 2004.
Experts in writing this type of document with high levels of classification ensure that fonts that have added strokes (such as Times New Roman) are more difficult to read on both computer and mobile phone screens. However, they indicated that this type of letters is much easier to read when the material is printed.
For the University of Edinburgh it is much more practical to use a 14 point typeface and avoid writing in capital letters, underlining or italicizing a text. “Fonts like Times New Roman are much less accessible,” says a peer-reviewed guide. The Washington Post.
However, the changes in typefaces could help some but make it difficult to read others, according to Jack Llewellyn, London designer specializing in typography.
There are also other factors to take into account if you want a text to reach as many people as possible. The design, alignment, spacing, color contrast between the text and the background must also be taken into account, more than the size or font.
“Choose a good default font, use line and a half line spacing, consider a white background with black text, and then guide readers to increase or decrease contrast or font size based on what works best for them. comfortable”, indicated the researcher associated with the Cambridge University Center for Engineering Design, Ian Hosking.
“Increasing the line spacing, for example, lengthens the document. For institutions like the State Department, which values succinct and standardized memos, that can be a problem,” she added.
In 2021, Microsoft announced that it would eliminate Calibri as the default font in favor of one of the five new fonts sans serif personalized.
“Calibri has been the default font for all things Microsoft since 2007, when it replaced Times New Roman in Microsoft Office,” the company said in a note. “It has served us all well, but we think it is time to evolve.”
(With information from The Washington Post)