New default font, Aptos, in Microsoft 365 and Word

Microsoft is releasing a new range of fonts called ‘Aptos’ that will become the new default fonts in Microsoft 365.  Here’s what we know and don’t know about the upcoming change.

Firstly – as Douglas Adams (much missed) reminded us: DON’T PANIC. Despite what you may have read, your documents should not change before your eyes to a different font.  Even the fonts are switched, most people won’t notice a lot of difference between Aptos and Calibri.

The existing default fonts (Calibri and Calibri Light) will remain installed. It seems the Aptos range will be cloud fonts, only available in Microsoft 365, not in Windows or Mac generally.

Microsoft’s announcement has been full of overblown phrases and references.  For example, we’re supposed to believe that the new font has been, in part, inspired in part by TV host, Stephen Colbert?  Gimme strength.

On Insiders Microsoft 365 releases, Aptos fonts have now appeared.  As well as the usual variations (Black, Light, Narrow etc) there are monospace and serif versions.

Side-by-side comparisons

We’ve made side-by-side or slider comparison pages for both the body text defaults (Calibri vs Aptos) and heading text (Aptos Light vs Calibri Light).

What’s missing

What’s missing is hard information that Microsoft’s customers need, if only for reassurance.

For example, currently “Calibri” is the default text font and “Calibri Light” is the default Heading font.  

The Bierstadt font (now called Aptos) had two variants “Bierstadt” for text and “Bierstadt Display” for headings. All the new font candidates had “… Display” variants for headings.

“Aptos” has both “Display” and “Light” versions but no indication from Microsoft about which will be the new Heading default.  We suspect the Heading default will be “Aptos Light” because it’s very similar to “Calibri Light” but customers should not have to guess, Microsoft should inform the people who pay them.

Bierstadt has been on the M365 font list for a few years. The two Bierstadt’s are still available.


Aptos is the new name for the Bierstadt font.

“Aptos” is the name of a town in Santa Cruz, California from an Ohlone word meaning “the people.” .

To me it sounds like a name from the Greek Myths i.e. “Aptos was helped by Ares and Apollo in his attack on Troy” but alas it’s not.

What’s the point?

Personally, not a big fan of Aptos.  For all of Microsoft’s gushing hype, it’s not that different to Calibri.

There are technical differences and a much wider range of options (including serif and monospace). Has Microsoft made the choice for commercial reasons rather than aesthetics?

If the Aptos fonts are installed via Office as cloud fonts (as they are now) that will limit full document compatibility to other Microsoft 365 users.  Other Office, Windows and Mac users would be shut out. Perhaps selling more Microsoft 365 licenses to organizations is one reason for this change.

What remains to be seen is how and when this change of defaults will be done.  Probably for new installs only.

Two ways to change document defaults in Microsoft Word
Two ways to change the default font and more in Word