A sample of “Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow, one of five fonts in the running to become Microsoft’s default. (Screenshot/microsoft.com)

A sample of “Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow, one of five fonts in the running to become Microsoft’s default. (Screenshot/microsoft.com)

Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

Microsoft is getting a new default font and there is a chance that it could have a northwest B.C. connection.

Skeena is one of five fonts in the running take over from Calibri, which replaced Times New Roman as the default in 2007 for Microsoft Office programs like Word and Excel. According to Microsoft, in 2016 there were 1.2 billion Microsoft Office users worldwide.

A default font is the text style that usually appears when a Microsoft Office document is opened.

Created by B.C.-based type designers John Hudson and Paul Hanslow of Tiro Typeworks, the new font is named after the Skeena River. According to Microsoft, it is a humanist sans-serif font ideal for body text or for shorter portions of text like those found in presentations or brochures.

Hudson has spent most of his life in British Columbia. He said that he has special memories of the Skeena River from family travels in the northwest when he was in his early teens.

He originally wanted to name the typeface ‘Sointula’ after the village established by Finnish immigrants on Malcolm Island. However, Microsoft was concerned that people would have issues pronouncing the name.

“Then Paul and I suggested Skeena, as another B.C. name with an unambiguous pronunciation,” Hudson said in an email. “The name has really grown on me, and I am glad we chose it.”

Hanslow said that he tries to highlight a typeface’s characteristics with its name. He said that Skeena has a very distinct ‘k,’ so having that letter included in the name was a good idea.

Microsoft commissioned designers to create five all-new fonts to add in its font menu for Microsoft Office and Microsoft systems. The company is in the process on gathering feedback on each of Tenorite, Bierstadt, Seaford, Grandview and Skeena fonts before selecting one in the coming months to serve as its default. Each of the new fonts are now available for people to try in Microsoft Office.

Hudson co-founded Tiro Typeworks in 1994. According to its website, the company has designed fonts for clients like Adobe Systems, Harvard University Press and the Government of Nunavut.

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