Last week, I wrote about Segoe UI, the new font used to render the user interface of Office 12 and Windows Vista.

I intended it to be a little fluffy "FYI" piece.  Little did I anticipate the flurry of comments and feedback and e-mail and blog entries.  Font this, font that!  Font font font font font!!!

So today, a little more about Segoe UI, starting with a mea culpa.  To save time, I pulled the picture of Segoe UI I published last week from the beta version of the Windows Vista UX Guidelines in MSDN.

That was a mistake.  It turns out that whomever made the picture used Segoe (Microsoft's corporate branding font) and not Segoe UI (which is the font we are using in the Office 12 interface.)

Simon Daniels, lead fonts program manager for Microsoft Typography, sent me mail to correct my mistake.  He also provided me with an updated picture of Segoe UI, which I reproduce below.  (I've also updated the picture in the original post.)


Segoe UI is the new user interface font for Office 12 and Windows Vista

Simon, who knows 500x more about fonts than I do, has been one of our point people on the Segoe UI effort for Office.  He wrote the following short background on Segoe UI which I hope you'll find interesting:

"Segoe UI is a four member typeface family included with Windows Vista and Office 12 for User Interface use.  Its used widely by Windows Vista components but can also be specified by third party apps running on Windows Vista that may wish to take advantage of it in order to have the Windows Vista look and feel.  Efforts are underway to enable third party apps running on Windows XP to access the fonts too.

"Each Segoe UI font includes well over 2,200 characters, supporting Unicode 4.1 coverage of Latin, Cyrillic and Greek based languages and includes support for IPA (international phonetic alphabet) and combining diacritics.

"The Segoe fonts are provided as TrueType flavor OpenType fonts, and as such can be used to author regular documents or create graphics, but the fonts themselves have been tuned for use as UI fonts at 8pt, 9pt, and 10pt under the ClearType rendering environment.

"Although the fonts have been optimized for ClearType (the Windows Vista and Windows Presentation Framework default experience), concessions have been made for regular bi-level (black and white or aliased) rendering, or for regular grayscale antialiasing.

"Segoe UI was drawn in the humanist sans-serif style evoking natural, almost hand drawn letter shapes.  As a humanist sans design it shares characteristics with Adobe Myriad, Verdana, Corbel, Lucida Sans and the father of the humanist sans movement Frutiger.  Unlike Verdana and Frutiger the typeface has a lively true italic, not based on an obliqued or slanted regular style.  Also unlike the humanist sans faces designed primarily for print-use the fonts include distinctive letter shapes that help the user distinguish between easily confused characters like lowercase l and uppercase I.

"Finally, Segoe UI is just one part of the extended Segoe family of typefaces.  This family also includes contextual cursive handwriting fonts (Segoe Script), a hand drawn non-cursive font (Segoe Print), special fonts for TV use (Segoe TV), a symbol font for hardware decals (Segoe HW) and a fourteen member set used for branding and corporate communications.

"One final note: The original Segoe fonts were not created for or by Microsoft.  It was an existing Monotype design which we licensed and extensively extended and customized to meet the requirements of different processes, apps and devices."

There you have it, direct from the expert.  Thanks, Simon!