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A mandatory font change in Calibri is causing unrest within the US State Department

The looming possibility that the country will default on its debts(Opens in a new window) could have far-reaching and dire consequences, but a second crisis has shaken the core of the State Department: a mandatory font switch from Times New Roman to Calibri.

Changes are afoot at the US State Department under Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who in a email provided to the Washington Post(Opens in a new window), changes the font for high-level internal documents to be more readable for the visually impaired. The mandate is established on the proposal of the diversity and inclusion secretariat.

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According to The mail, the move was not well received within the State Department, with employees complaining about the inconvenience of the change and the unaesthetic font choice. That’s what an officer of the State Department said The mail that informal discussion of the font mandate ended up taking up “half a day” between those for and against the change. Another employee said they expected an “internal revolt”. One officer even went so far as to say the switch is “sacrilegious.”

Light-hearted or not, the idea of ​​federal employees spending half their workday on heated discussions about fonts doesn’t inspire confidence, to say the least. This is also not the first time such a switch has happened. In fact, Times New Roman was the sacrilegious font change in 2004, when the State Department phased out the use of Courier New 12, the typewriter font. That move also met with setbacks at the time, according to Gizmodo(Opens in a new window). Time is a flat, sans-serif “O” for paraphrase a great philosopher(Opens in a new window).

State Department officials have told The Post that the font mandate is purely for accessibility and has nothing to do with aesthetics. In an email obtained by the Post, Blinken stated that the “decorative, angular features” of Times New Roman and other authors “could introduce accessibility issues for individuals with disabilities using Optical Character Recognition Technology or screen readers.” And there really is some experimental evidence(Opens in a new window) document the greater readability(Opens in a new window) of sans-serif fonts, although this is far from definitive.

Experts speak The mail have praised the move, stating that with tens of thousands of employees working at the State Department, it is a “good thing” to be more accessible to readers. According to Blinken’s email, the department’s domestic and international offices have until Feb. 6 to approve the changes.

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