We’re all looking for ways to make our lives easier and, though I can’t kick unnecessary calls from your calendar or whip up a midweek meal whilst you put your feet up, I can tell you about a Microsoft update that might just save you some time – the Microsoft Modern Font Picker.

Why are we so excited about the Modern Font Picker? Let’s set the scene…

We’ve all been there. You’re creating a project in a Microsoft program and need to change the font. You highlight the relevant text, move your mouse to the font drop down menu and start the never ending scroll down an ever-growing list of fonts to find the one you need. Or, if you’re a little savvy, you start to type in the font name, inevitably make a typo and lose the font in the list. This has been me, hundreds of times! Fear not fellow scrollers and typers, our calls for help have been answered!

Microsoft have recently updated their font interface in the online Office app and have included lots of new features to streamline working with fonts. Here’s a brief list of Microsoft’s new-look Modern Font Picker features and a few tips on how to use them to boost productivity and save enough time for a cuppa.

Font families

Fonts are now grouped into their respective families for easy navigation and searching. Now, instead of scrolling through Arial Regular, Arial Italic, Arial Bold, Arial Bold Italic etc. to get to Arial Nova, the different styles have been moved into flyout menus. This reduces the length of the font list, saving anyone regularly using fonts beginning with ‘W’ some serious RSI!

Screenshot of the font drop down list. The font Arial is selected and a fly out menu on the right lists the different Arial styles e.g. regular, italic, bold.

Organization

Font families are now grouped under three* headers:
Most Recently Used, Pinned Fonts and Office Fonts.

Screenshot of the Microsoft font picker. A small drop down menu is open with the three headings described above.

  • The Most Recently Used dropdown lists the 10 most recently used fonts in reverse chronological order (ensuring your theme fonts are at the top of the list).
  • Pinned Fonts is a personal favorite (yes, I’m the kind of person that has favorite types of font lists!). It can include font families or individual font styles and can be personalized and edited at any time using the small pin icon next to each font name. If you have ‘go-to’ fonts, you can pop them all in the Pinned Fonts list for easy access.

Screenshot of the microsoft font picker zoomed into the font Arial. To the left of the font is a pin icon, a pop out says 'Pin font'.

  • Office Fonts contains the list of font styles supported by Office software.

This new organization allows you to search for fonts in a more dynamic way and easily access commonly used fonts making the whole process much simpler and more enjoyable.

* You may see a fourth heading, Organization Fonts, if your IT administrator has deployed your brand fonts via a SharePoint Asset Library. You can read more about that here: Microsoft documentation.

Font information

An information icon may appear next to a font style in your list. This can indicate that the font is a theme font or an embedded font. If, like me, you spend hours scouring your decks looking for pesky fonts that shouldn’t be there, this will be a welcome addition. It makes finding embedded fonts much easier. You can click on the icons for more information on the font itself. Cleverly, the information icon will turn to a warning triangle if the font picker notices a missing font in your document. This warning alerts you to fonts used in the file that are not installed on your machine, so you can either install the correct fonts or change the font to one you do have. This is a huge advantage and provides a great insight into your document making sure you won’t share files with wonky formatting by accident.

Screenshot of the font list. Next to one font is a yellow warning triangle icon. A pop out says 'Missing font'.

About this font

Clicking into a font family menu and selecting About this Font at the bottom of the list opens an information panel. Here you can find information about typefaces, weights or letter forms relating to that font family. You can also read about the history behind the font and, impressively, whether it’s a compatibility font. Fonts in the ‘Compatibility font’ group will automatically download and display correctly on any device even if the font wasn’t installed. Magic!
Screenshot of a panel with the title About this font. The text beneath reads: Arial gives the illusion of being a very plain typeface. It seems to be basic to a fault, simple lines in simple shapes that anyone can read. And since it is probably the most ubiquitous sans serif typeface on the web, and in print, we are all used to reading it. The panel continues to describe the look of the Arial font and it's history.

Microsoft’s font process really has had a spring clean, and the new features make light work of editing your text. The new Microsoft Modern Font Picker is currently only available in the Online browser platform, but I’ve got my fingers crossed for a release to the desktop app very soon! Fellow scrollers, our lives just got easier, one font at a time.

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Written by

Lucy Wyatt

Senior design consultant

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