Consolas was the first ClearType family Microsoft invited Luc(as) to work on. That monospaced design was a series of fonts where all glyphs had an equal width. Consolas is intended for use in programming environments and other circumstances that require a monospaced font. Its proportions are closer to normal text, and is more reader-friendly than many other monospaced fonts.
After that work had begun, Microsoft asked Luc(as) to supply a proposal for a sans serif. Starting from some sketches he had once made with TV broadcasting in mind, De Groot drew a contemporary sans serif family with subtle rounding on stems and corners. This became Calibri.
Fearing that those rounds might suffer under ClearType rendering, De Groot redesigned the proposal, taking the rounded corners out. When submitting the proposal to Microsoft, he sent along a sample of the original version, adding: “I like the look of it, but as you see these rounded tops look real ugly in ClearType; don’t choose this.” De Groot had in fact been critical of the ClearType rasterizer when he first saw it demonstrated.
To his astonishment, Microsoft chose the rounded version. “As I soon found out, the rasterizer had indeed improved, and rounded tops and bottoms could be rendered smoothly now.” Calibri’s proportions allow high impact in tightly set lines of big and small text alike. Calibri’s curves show a warm and soft character in bigger sizes. The typeface turned is now one of the most flexible font families Microsoft has available.
Luc(as) designed Calibri for three scripts simultaneously: Latin, Greek and Cyrillic. Gerry Leonidas acted as an adviser for Greek and Maxim Zhukov for Cyrillic. A decade and a half later, Luc(as) expanded Calibri to support Hebrew as well. Calibri is the only family in the ClearType Font Collection intended for both text and display settings, which helps explain the exuberant appearance of its alternate glyphs, logotypes, and extra characters – which include a suite of directional arrows.
Text adapted from the Microsoft brochure Now read this. The Microsoft ClearType Font Collection, edited by John D. Berry (2004).