Aptos is Microsoft’s new default font, named for the Santa Cruz County community

Aptos is Microsoft’s new default font, named for the Santa Cruz County community

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For the first time in over 15 years, Microsoft is changing its default font. On Thursday, the Redmond, Washington, tech giant revealed the name of its new typeface, a word that will be familiar across Santa Cruz County: Aptos.

Font designer Steve Matteson designed the font and named it Aptos, “after his favorite unincorporated city of Santa Cruz, California, whose landscape and climate broadly epitomize the font’s diversity,” Microsoft wrote in blog post Thursday.

Aptos is an Ohlone word meaning “people”.

“The mist, beaches, redwood trees, and Aptos Mountains summed up everything he loved about California,” C. Daniels, Microsoft’s principal program manager, wrote in the post. “Getting away from digital content and evoking the outdoors was like going back to using paper and pencil. Lettering by hand will play a pivotal role in Steve’s creative process.”

Microsoft has used Calibri as the default font for Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and Outlook email since 2007.

The company announced for the first time that it would replace Calibri in April 2021 It said it would select from five new dedicated lines commissioned for the purpose. At the time, Matteson named the line Bierstadt after a peak in Colorado, where he lives. Its design competed with four other line designs: the Tenoret, Scina, Seaford, and Grandview.

Microsoft said Bierstadt (now renamed Aptos) resonated the most. The font will be rolled out as the default typeface to hundreds of millions of Microsoft 365 users over the next few months.

Change comes at a time when The Aptos name is competing with four others in a very different contest in Santa Cruz County—the renaming of Cabrillo College.

On August 7, the Cabrillo College Board of Trustees will vote on a new name from among five options: Seacliff College, Costa Vista College, Santa Cruz Coast College, Cagastaka College, and Aptos College.

The Community Task Force narrowed down the list of suggested names from about 350 names down to five options. A name recommendation will be made to the board before the August meeting, but the board will ultimately decide on the new name.

According to Microsoft, Aptos is a sans font, designed to be easy to read and feature simpler characters, with fewer flourishes. Microsoft said Aptos is clean cut and made with different geometries in order to work in many different languages ​​and to be easy to read on the smaller, high-resolution screens common in today’s electronic devices.

Microsoft said Matteson designed the font with a “slight human touch”.

“He wanted Aptos to have the universal appeal of the late NPR anchor Carl Kasell and the witty tone of The Late Show host Stephen Colbert,” wrote Microsoft program director Daniels. “Steve said the line has such a simple personality that it can’t be ‘overtly’ neutral. There has to be some warmth.”

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“It’s kind of like listening to a GPS voice versus a human voice,” Matteson told Microsoft. “People would rather listen to a human than have a robot tell you to turn left, this is my soul that I put into the design.”

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