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« Microsoft Office 2010 adds OpenType goodness

The Office 2010 technical preview is due out in July, and one can sign up to test with it. However, copies of Office 2010 have apparently already leaked, and some enterprising souls have posted screen shots of the new support for OpenType typographic features for western fonts.
This is a “technical preview” only, so it is quite possible there will be some changes of features, functionality or user interface prior to release. However, it should be pretty close to the final version overall (except in performance and bugs).
That being said, you may be wondering exactly what is supported. Here’s what the UI posting shows:

None of this stuff is on by default (not even standard ligatures), but then again, neither is kerning. Sigh. So, it’s not perfect, but a huge advance over the status quo. Having this stuff in Word will finally bring some more elements of good typography to the masses….

13 commentsto “Microsoft Office 2010 adds OpenType goodness”

  • May 22, 2009
    Lindsey Thomas Martin wrote


    I think you are unduly sanguine in thinking that ‘the masses’ can recognise good typography. Consider this note we received from one of our authors after he had seen his page proofs, which were typeset using old-​style figures: ‘I am concerned about the font used for numbers in the main text. It is too squatty there and looks wrong.’


  • May 22, 2009
    office 2010 wrote

    nice post, see my blog at office 2010 news

  • May 23, 2009
    james wrote

    I’m going to hold my enthusiasm until Microsoft has had time to release the software, and then release a service pack to fix whatever OT stuff they’ve screwed up, then a patch to fix the service pack. So I figure we’re 2-​3 years away from OT support in Office.

  • May 24, 2009
    Michael Rowley wrote

    I see you’ve had the first of the comments deploring the possibility of the hoi polloi having access to good typography. But I have been getting ligatures, OS figures, small capitals (real ones) in Word for some time with the help of a few macros; nevertheless, it will be nice to have Microsoft’s help.

    [Shrug. Even if not everyone knows what to do with these options, at least it will be easier to do good typography in Word and MS Publisher. BTW, I’m guessing your macros are relying on Adobe’s use of consistent PUA Unicode codepoints for alternate glyphs. This approach is not used by all font developers, and Adobe has itself abandoned PUA usage for typographic alternates in their most recent fonts. – T]

  • May 25, 2009
    Adam Twardoch wrote

    In addition to the options specific to OpenType, I do *hope* that Microsoft will also modify the functionality of some existing features to use OpenType. For example, Word has “always” had an option for small caps but it always worked by geometrically reducing the uppercase. Small caps are *extremely* important even in office use, and I do hope that in Office 2010, the small caps feature will activate OpenType small caps for OpenType fonts that supports them, and only apply geometric scaling for fonts that don’t support OpenType small caps.

    [Yes, I had noticed that there isn’t a separate OT option for small caps, superscript or subscript. I hope there is some way of getting at those typographic glyphs as opposed to being stuck with Word’s scaling. – T]

  • May 27, 2009
    Michael Rowley wrote

    I’m guessing your macros are relying on Adobe’s use of consistent PUA Unicode codepoints for alternate glyphs’

    They rely on there existing codepoints for glyphs matching alternates, which necessarily are the Private Use Area; they do not rely on consistent use of the same codepoints: it’s nice if a font producer is consistent, but I’m resigned to knowing the codepoints of fonts I possess.

    Of course, many characters do exist in Unicode but whose codepoints are outside the FF limit, e.g. the ligaments fi, fl, ff, ffi, and ffl, i.e. the standard set; another example are the conventional fixed spaces (but font designers are loath to provide them; I suppose they’re not much fun).

  • July 5, 2009
    Peter Kahrel wrote

    >Having this stuff in Word will finally …

    WordPerfect did kerning, automatic ligatures, and proper smallcaps back in the late 1980s. Its demise shows that typographic superiority isn’t what the masses are after.


    [Back in the late 1980s WordPerfect was the most popular word processor. It was only when the application completely failed at making the transition to a graphical user interface in the early 90s that it lost out to Microsoft Word. That and the “suite” approach to bundling software were what did it in. I appreciated its better typography, but when one wanted a graphical UI, there was no contest. Word won. – T]

  • July 17, 2009
    Andrej P. Sysoev wrote 3.2 adds SIL Graphite goodness. I’d like to mention this, because OOo is a rather good counterpart to MSO and SIL Graphite to OpenType smart font technology, respectively.

    IMHO, MS Word is better than OpenOffice Writer for buisness processes, but worse for typography and layout, though they both are not intented for typography first of all unlike InDesign or QuarkXPress. Version 3.2 (November 2009) of OOo will have support for Graphite smart font technology []. It has been already implemented in the development version of OOo (see Issue 69129: Add support for Graphite font technology [] and Issue 93645: Add a Graphite module to support Graphite Smart Fonts []) and there are some third party builds as well (, but since v3.2 it will be supported in official releases.

    SIL Graphite smart font technology can do everything OpenType does, but it was disigned to be more extensible than OpenType. In particular, the notion of Graphite features is of interest as compared to OpenType features. OpenType features are sort of functionality granules which may also give users some options. Graphite features are pure user options. Functionality in Graphite is devided in some functional primitives such as kerning, shifting, reordering, glyph alternation and so on that can be composed in any way. Graphite features are sort of a unified interface for user options and not just of binary choice, apropos, but n-​ary. Font designer decides himself what functionality he or she includes into his or her feature. So every OpenType feature can also be implemented in graphite. In OpenType an application developer needs to implement every ot-​feature. In Graphite, if a developer has already implemented graphite engine (graphite functional primitives [Shifting and kerning, ligature substitution, reordering, stacking diacritics, using attachment points, …]) and feature interface, typeface designer can incorporate into a font any feature based on implemented functionality.

    The main problem for SIL Graphite unlike OpenType is a lack of good visual tools for font designers, but it is really a better technology. Now Graphite support is implemented in SIL WorldPad (maybe unworth mentioning), XeTeX and OpenOffice.

    [The main problems for SIL Graphite fonts are (1) a complete lack of interest from font designers, and (2) the fact that it has zero support in what I would call mainstream applications. Together those two things ensure it’s not ever becoming mainstream itself. Sure, it’s very cool, and even a more powerful format than OpenType. But its flexibility also means it’s much harder to develop fonts for. This is one of the same problems AAT/​GX fonts had, a format which despite native support in Mac OS, and in the iLife suite, is pretty much dead on arrival. Other than folks interested in supporting especially obscure languages, pretty much nobody is doing Graphite fonts. OpenType is half-​decently supported in InDesign, Illustrator, QuarkXPress, Photoshop, the next versions of Word and Publisher, and the latest text engine for Flash. I will bet you $1000 in cash that 10 years from now there still won’t be even 1/​10 as many Graphite fonts as OpenType fonts. Care to take me up on that? – T]

  • November 24, 2010
    Artwi wrote

    @ Andrej P. Sysoev:
    OpenOffice team should stop wasting time on sci-​fi like SIL and start listening to users: basic support of OpenType under Linux (kerning!) would be a good start!

  • April 21, 2011
    Andrew wrote

    It really is sad that Microsoft didn’t include support for OT small caps and superscripts. So close, and yet so far. (Also, I wish that they would give us control over how footnote numbers are displayed, but that’s another story.) Do you know of anyone within that organization that we could pressure to include it?

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