As with most system fonts, the design world seems quite negative on Calibri. And I get it, but many of the recommended alternatives are impractical for those of us that need to produce a lot of content in Excel, at a pace that makes it impossible to redo every table in another app.

So can anyone recommend other sans options that

  1. work at small point sizes for
  2. dense, tabular, mostly numeric content,
  3. both on screen and in print, and
  4. have tabular and lining figures turned on by default

The last one is critical (since Excel does not support OpenType options) and I don't even know how to filter for it at foundry/catalog websites.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

  • 1
    Calibri is installed with Office though. If the goal is to have files transferable between systems, I've found it's always wise to just stick with the defaults whatever the Microsoft app wants to use. The more you customize fonts, the less transferable files are between systems/users. MS is pretty horrible at maintaining custom font choices. It's not about "Excel friendly" it's about "what won't the MS app mess up".
    – Scott
    Dec 7, 2021 at 19:01
  • @Scott Agreed, but sometimes I don't need the files to be transferable between systems or users.
    – Peter
    Dec 7, 2021 at 19:09
  • So to be clear you are asking for the use-case of pre-baked presentation (not inter-operability); you need fonts where lining and tabular numerals are the default set (like Calibri); cannot be Type1 (no Office support)
    – Yorik
    Dec 7, 2021 at 19:36
  • 1
    @Scott - just tested. Excel thinks I'm typing in Calibri, but it's still not activated in FontExplorer & copy/paste tells me it's actually Helvetica. [/me jumps up & down like a small child, crying 'Ya boo sucks, Microsoft. You lose"] [sorry]
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 7, 2021 at 19:46
  • 1
    @Tetsujin That sincerely made me lol, thanks XD
    – Vincent
    Dec 8, 2021 at 11:01

1 Answer 1


Definitely recommend Hoefler/Monotype's Office Fonts. Among other things, they're tweaked so the space between lines is quite narrow and the x-height quite high, so they'll feel right in charts.

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