Biden State Dept Bars Use of Times New Roman Font, Citing 'Disability Inclusion'

Popular font can cause 'visual recognition issues for individuals with learning disabilities,' says Secretary of State Blinken

Secretary of State Antony Blinken / Reuters
January 18, 2023

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday instructed employees to ditch Times New Roman in official communications, saying the popular font undermines the department's commitment to "disability inclusion."

In a department-wide memo titled "The Times (New Roman) are a-Changin," Blinken instructed employees to instead use Calibri font, which the secretary said is more legible to those with reading disabilities, the Washington Post reported. Serif fonts such as Times New Roman—which has decorative tails and feet—can cause "visual recognition issues for individuals with learning disabilities," according to Blinken.

The secretary's Office of Diversity and Inclusion recommended Calibri, the default font on Microsoft products, as an "accessibility best practice," according to the memo.

Blinken's font-change memo comes as the secretary of state prepares a February visit to China amid strained relations between Washington and Beijing. The families of American hostages detained in China have pressured Blinken to bring the prisoners home. Katherine Swidan, whose son is wrongfully imprisoned, said "enough is enough."

"My message for Blinken is: say their names," Swidan told Reuters. "They're American citizens. They've been wrongfully detained."

The department last changed fonts in January 2004 when it switched to Times New Roman from Courier New 12.