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Recently I've been seeing many pages and blogs with some sour distaste for Microsoft's Calibri typeface, mashing it as if it was the new Comic Sans or something. At first I tought the problem was because it was Microsoft's default font for MS Office, but I've seen people saying to avoid it even in office-related works.

I particularly don't see nothing totally wrong with it, i mean, it works well, it looks nice, the roundish stems give it a refreshing "not-so-formal" look while still seeming elegant and somewhat professional.

The only "problem" I'd say about it is that said round stems aren't very neat within bigger body sizes, but that is my personal opinion.

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I agree with some of the other answers here that there really isn't a problem per se and that visually, Calibri can hold it's own as a default system font. Here are some of the problems I've had with Calibri and why I try avoiding it.


Availabilty / Compatibility

Since this typeface was originally commissioned by Microsoft for the Microsoft Office Suite products that specifically utilized their ClearType technology, Calibri's versatility with products outside of the Suite were less than optimal for quite some time. For example, Calibri was released in 2002 and only just found it's way into the Mac version Office Suite in 2011. Google docs only adopted the font as an option in 2010. I've constantly run into issues in which Adobe Creative Suite has a hard time recognizing Calibri and will often populate files with uneditable, broken font links (which are practically useless). The bottom line, Calibri doesn't always play nice with applications outside of the Microsoft OS. As you can see in the image below, Calibri doesn't appear as an installed font on my own computer (Mac OS) even though it is indeed installed and available in my Office Suite:

enter image description here


Printing

There are some known issues documented with printing Calibri in various operating systems. In particular, when updating to a newer version of Microsoft Office. Errors include, not printing certain pieces of letters (e.g.; diacritic dots on is or js), not printing random full letters or blocks of text, and not printing at all. The solution is usually updating the printer driver but in some instances you'll have to jump through some major hoops to get it working properly. Here's one example of a more complex fix:

To work around this issue, install the Complex Script support files. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, and then click Run

  2. Type intl.cpl, and then click OK.

  3. Click the Languages tab.

  4. Under Supplemental language support, click to select the Install files for complex script and right-to-left languages (including Thai) check box.

  5. When you receive the following message, click OK to close the message:

You chose to install the Arabic, Armenian, Georgian, Hebrew, Indic, Thai and Vietnamese language files. This will require 10 MB or more of available disk space. The files will be installed after you click OK or Apply on the Regional and Language Options dialog box.

  1. Click OK to close the Regional and Language Options dialog box.

This fixed the problem we were having with the calbri font not printing correctly in office 2010.


Better Options

Subjectively speaking, there are many other typefaces readily available that will achieve the clean, sans-serif look that aren't the default. As mentioned in some of the other answers to this post, many designers most likely have a distaste for Calibri because it's simply chosen for them. If you want to get away from using Calibri here are a few alternatives that might sooth the palette.

Open Sans:

enter image description here

Roboto is another nice alternative Google font: enter image description here ^ Open Sans and Roboto are free Google fonts. They're both versatile, close to the look of Calibri, and, did I mention, free?

If all else fails, you can always go with good old Helvetica Neue: enter image description here ^ Helvetica Neue may put you back a few dollars, but it's a classic that's always in style and comes in many weights

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This seems like a trend thing. since calibri is packed with microsoft office since 2007 on, it is getting a bit overused and people are grabbing it to put it in stuff not office-related. Calibri is also a clear type optimised font, so it is not exactly adequated for print i guess.

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    Yea, this is what I was going to say. It's not that there is anything wrong with it, per se, it's just the fact that no one ever seems to change it so it's everywhere – Manly Oct 28 '16 at 16:23
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    indeed, overuse is one of the most common font death responsible, even though i dont really see Calibri that much out of office situations. I also wonder why Helvetica didnt have the same fate since it is way TOO hype-y . – Lucas Flicky Oct 28 '16 at 16:43
  • @LucasFlicky Helvetica comes in many many flawours which means there is greater flexibility for the font in use. This also means that it is less likely to become stale. Calibri is ok for its intended purpose. But yes helvetica is not suited for everything, although it has a wider usability. – joojaa Oct 29 '16 at 9:21
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I think the main factor at work here is the fact that it's default.

Just like Arial before it, Calibri is the default typeface in Microsoft Office. Hence, anyone who doesn't care about typeface will automatically use Calibri. This makes anything that actually uses Calibri look amateur, as if no attention was spent on choosing a typeface.

If you use the same typeface that every amateur uses in their word processor and spreadsheet, you are going to look amateur.

Times New Roman, the default font in way more applications for a way longer time, has been described succinctly as 'the absence of a font choice' for the very same reason.

Calibri is not a bad typeface. It's just its regular users that give it a bad name, at least among designers.

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A few thoughts. Well, there's nothing wrong with it technically - it's legible, it's designed by an expert and it has a very full character set, so it can handle any challenge like obscure currencies, languages and math symbols. But printed out or on a good screen the rather high x-height (tall/wide lower-case) looks dreary - the lower-case looks a bit too big and there's not enough contrast between lower-case and capitals. (I find Adobe Garamond's x-height more or less perfect in the 12pt range - compared to that Calibri looks clunky.)

Also, the rounded stems do look a bit sickly-sweet. I also find the italic too cute for its own good with the soft curvy 'e'. For some reason I prefer it in light and bold to the regular weight. In bold it has a nice bulk to it and looks almost a little like Berthold Block.

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I'm sorry, I don't recommend the use of Calibri font. It looks great, but it has a fatal problem. The capital letter i looks the same as the small letter L. You'll have problem when you type words like "Illusion".

  • The upper case I and lower case L also look the same in Helvetica, and many other sans serif fonts. It's not a problem generally because we can tell which letter is which from context. – Billy Kerr Apr 11 at 9:08

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