The Truth About Times New Roman on Chrome OS

The Truth About Times New Roman on Chrome OS

When I first laid my hands on my new ASUS C300 Chromebook, I never thought that in one and half years that I’d be typing an editorial about the Times New Roman font on a 2015 MacBook Air. But, sadly, my Chromebook failed me in the most minor of areas and it almost cost me. That’s what this is about. Not discouraging the use of Chromebooks, but warning you, as the result of Google’s potentially misleading marketing.

Chromebooks are often marketed to students, anywhere from middle school up through college. With Google Apps for Education, easy updates, and complete device management, what’s not to love about them? It turns out there is one thing not to love: Times New Roman. Yes, Times New Roman, the font. The font that has grown old to many of us, the font that is a symbol of school essays, the font that is a requirement in many colleges.

That’s exactly what brings me to write this. A few weeks ago when I sat down to write the first paper for my online college class, I spent a considerable amount of time getting the styling to match the requirements. I did get it right, but after I got my paper back, there was a comment right at the top: “Font not Times New Roman, -1 point”. I was mad. Almost furious. I set my font to be exactly Times New Roman, pt 12. Maybe it looks just a tad different, but that’s only for me, right?


Tinos the Substitute

Well, no. After a nice afternoon of research, I came across an article by Jonathan Bean, titled “The Times New Roman Lie”. To my surprise, I discovered that Times New Roman wasn’t actually Times New Roman—it was Tinos. What is Tinos? Tinos is “an innovative, refreshing serif design that is metrically compatible with Times New Roman”. But, Google, why Tinos? And why is Arial not actually Arial, but Arimo? The reason lies within the heart of Chrome OS. Chrome OS is open source, and Times New Roman and Arial both are licensed fonts. Licensed fonts and open source software don’t mix. Hence, why Google created Tinos and Arimo.

If that were the end of the story, then I’d be alright. But it’s not. See, throughout Chrome OS, Tinos and Arimo are labeled as Times New Roman and Arial, respectively. There is no reason why the user would think otherwise unless they took the time to compare the two fonts. Here’s the real issue: there’s not a real good workaround. School asks you to save it as a .docx in Times New Roman? No can do. Want to print right from Docs in Times New Roman? No can do. This lie initially resulted in a point deduction for me (the point was later added, I have no clue why; I did not ask why).

The PDF Workaround

However, it is important to note that you can, in Google Docs, go to File > Download as > Save as PDF, and for some mysterious reason it will save it with the Times New Roman font, not “an innovative, refreshing serif design that is metrically compatible with Times New Roman”. This is a decent workaround provided someone doesn’t need to edit it as a Word document. It’s also important to note that Microsoft Word online is affected by this issue. And before you go on a Windows PC, create a document with Times New Roman, then proceed to edit it on your Chromebook—sorry—that won’t work, either.


This, along with a few other reasons (including a change in my work focus), resulted in me getting a MacBook Air. I’m upset that Google lied in regards to this font, and I hope word gets out to those with Chromebooks so they can be aware and not lose points for having the wrong font. For those looking to get a Chromebook, be mindful of this. If you or your teachers don’t care about Times New Roman, Arial, or even Courier New, then go get a Chromebook! They’re an amazing value for the price. Just watch out for the innovative, refreshing serif design that is metrically compatible with Times New Roman.

17 Comments on this Post

  1. Donald Anderson

    I don’t seem to have this problem. Docs created on my Windows machine or those created on Chrome book look the same to me.

    • Make sure you’re comparing documents created on a Chromebook, to those created on a Windows, on the devices they were created on. For example, a paper I wrote on my Chromebook which was in Tinos, is in Times New Roman on my MacBook. A document created on my MacBook in Times New Roman will show up as Tinos on my Chromebook.

      • Morten Ulveseth

        If its only Tinos on a Chromebook, how do the teachers see it? You turn in papers on actual paper?
        Anyway, there is your reason why it’s labeled Times New Roman. Everyone else will see it correctly. And if you need to print it, turning it into a PDF first is only a few more clicks right? Minor inconvenience, given that you know about it, or am I missing something.

        Thanks for letting us know about it though.

        • If you save it as a .DOCX, it will save as Tinos and then teachers see it. If you print it, it prints as Tinos. Sometimes it seems to show up as Tinos on other computers, but I noticed it’s not 100% consistent.
          The bigger issue is that someone might not realize that what they think is Times New Roman, really isn’t. And if they don’t realize that, then how would they know to save as a PDF first? And how would they even know that’s a solution without doing a fair amount of experimenting? That’s why I wrote this.

  2. Donald Anderson

    Hmmm only at small point sizes do they look different. Must investigate more….

  3. Todd Warner

    One can get through college working around issues. Your professors with will work with you on such things. I know you are just trying to illustrate a point, but it is a very VERY minor point.

    I.e., The fault is not with Google. The fault is not with Chromebook… the fault is that Times New Roman and Arial are proprietary.. And if I can believe it to be true, the fault would lie with the school who would set some bizarre standard and not bend.

    Anyway. I have a linux laptop (Fedora) for work and a Chromebook for personal use. My wife has a Chromebook for personal use and operates 2 businesses with it… and has for a couple years now. Chromebook has been ready for primetime for quite some time now.

    • Like another commenter mentioned, the fault may very well be with the school. Their style guide does say that not all word processors will have the features to apply all the styles. I’d gladly talk to my professor, but as it’s a college-wide style guide, and not just for one class, it’s probably pointless to take it up with the teacher.
      And yes, I am aware that the fault is not directly with Google/Chrome OS. But, if they had said that Times New Roman really isn’t Times New Roman, then that would have put them completely out of the picture.
      I do understand that Chromebooks are quite suitable for business. I’ve seen them used in that way myself. But, there’s just a few very specific applications (like this) that make them not suitable for a certain task.

  4. That’s a issue with your college submission system not the Chromebook.
    The demand you use a proprietary, licensed typeface that the college does not supply or indeed allow freely licenced alternatives is the real issue here. For a place of education this seems really dumb.

    • Agreed. Certain academic style guides (like the MLA) only require “a legible font” in 12 pt. However, many colleges have their own specific style guides. Mine, for example states “Students may elect to use Times New Roman for papers written entirely in English.” and “If your subject matter requires the use of additional or different fonts, request permission from your teacher (for papers and reviews).” The guide also starts off stating that not all word processors may be able to meet all the style requirements. Then there’s also a section in the grading rubric that will deduct a point for “anything other than Times New Roman”.
      Several commenters have suggested that it’d be better just to talk to my professor, but as it’s not just a class requirement, but rather a college-wide requirement, I don’t think I’d get anywhere.

      • The teacher might have more weight than you do on getting the issue resolved upstream. Who knows, maybe he’ll be able to talk to the right people and get the guide changed.

  5. Kelvin Njuguna

    Its particularly disturbing that Google does this,seeing that the Promote Google for education.

    • It’s even more disturbing that an education body is promoting the use of proprietary fonts instead of open-source ones.

  6. Thanks for the heads-up, but I’m actually most curious about your experience! Did you talk to the instructor about your findings? It just seems unethical and abusive for them to penalize you for your choice of PC operating system. A paper is a paper is a paper. What difference does font make 10 years from now when PCs are hobbyist relics and day to day work is all done on some kind of goofy phablet device?

    • Oops! Just saw your reply to M-P{3} from September 19. I didn’t see any comment replies when I initially navigated to the page, I swear! :C

    • Just for reference, my instructor did get back to me a few days ago. They thanked me for the information, and said they would pass it off to the correct department, although they doubted anything would get changed in the style guide.


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