Did you know that not all PowerPoint fonts are safe to use?
By that I mean, not all fonts will properly display in all versions of PowerPoint. Instead what will happen is, PowerPoint will replace your fonts with something else that might not actually work for your presentation (yikes!).
So the question becomes, what is the best font for PowerPoint?
In this article, you'll learn about the 9 safest PowerPoint fonts you can use to ensure that your fonts display properly in all versions of Microsoft PowerPoint (Mac and PC).
For additional slide design tips and tricks for building your presentations, check out my article here.
[Watch] Safe PowerPoint Fonts Tutorial
To learn how to quickly replace all of the fonts within your PowerPoint presentation in one go, see our guide here.
Fonts not displaying correctly
If your fonts aren’t displaying correctly in your presentation, it’s likely one of two things:
- You’re not using a safe standard font
- You’re using a custom font (see section below)
Let’s first address the first issue.
Although PowerPoint is supposed to be compatible across versions and installations, there are a few areas where PowerPoint it’s not as compatible as it's supposed to be: fonts.
And this is true, even if you use the default fonts that come with Microsoft Office.
For example, if you use a font that isn’t supported by the computer that’s opening the presentation, that font will be substituted for the theme’s default fonts, most often Calibri.
And this may change the entire look and layout of slide and all of your text, like in this example:
If you’re only ever using PCs and PowerPoint 2016, for example, then I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
But if there’s a chance your presentation will be displayed on a computer using an older version of PowerPoint (especially pre-2010), or if the computer is a Mac, then you need to be careful of the fonts you’re using.
And chances are that you’re going to be in this situation, so please pay attention to this.
The Best Fonts For PowerPoint
The best font for your PowerPoint presentation is one that (1) makes your slides look good and (2) is one that will properly display on ALL Mac and PC versions of Microsoft Office.
These are what are commonly refereed to as safe fonts.
According to presentation design expert Julie Terberg, “safe fonts are those that are common to most users and therefore will not be substituted when your PowerPoint file is opened with an operating system or Microsoft Office version that is different from your own.”
There are very few fonts that are safe across Mac and PC, and these are:
For a slightly more expanded list of safe fonts, check out Julie Terberg's article on safe fonts here.
While these are definitely restrictive, if you want to truly be compatible across all devices, those are the few you can use.
If you’re ever going to build a presentation with a risky font, what you should always do is test the presentation as if the fonts were to revert back to default. That way you know if would look okay in the event that the fonts didn’t carry over.
Risky PowerPoint fonts
The fonts that are most likely to break your PowerPoint presentation are custom fonts.
Custom fonts are fonts that you have manually installed on your computer (Mac or PC).
And while custom fonts look cool, the problem with using them in your PowerPoint presentations (or Word, Excel)… is that they will only display on other computers that have that custom font installed.
That means that if you are sending out your presentation to a bunch of people externally, it's likely that all of your slides will display differently on their computers (and potentially look like a mess).
You can get away with using custom fonts like this if you convert your presentation into the PDF file format (details here), but that means your clients will not be able to run the presentation naively in PowerPoint.
To learn all about running slideshows in PowerPoint, read our article here.
Note: It can also be illegal if your font is copyrighted and if you’re the only one allowed to use it.
What are custom fonts?
Custom fonts are fonts you’ve downloaded for free on the web, or they can also be fonts that you’ve purchased.
Here are some places we recommend for finding free custom fonts online:
For more suggestions, check out the section in our resource guide for best places find free fonts here.
Here are some places we recommend for buying custom fonts:
Using custom fonts is a great way to make your presentations stand out and look super cool.
Here are some examples of cool fonts, handwritten letter fonts, and modern fonts we’ve used, and sleek combinations of fonts:
Embedding fonts in your presentation
One way to go around having to install custom fonts on all user computers, is to embed them.
However, we DON’T RECOMMEND embedding them (ever).
It tends to not work very well, and some fonts won’t even let you embed them based on their licensing. It’s more likely to screw things up for you and leave you stranded.
Converting to a PDF or Picture Presentation file format
Another way to use custom fonts while still having them display correctly on any device, is to save your presentation as a PDF or as a PowerPoint picture presentation.
To learn how to convert your presentation into the PDF file format, see our guide here.
To learn how turn your presentation into a picture presentation, see our guide here.
Just keep in mind that once you've converted your presentation into these alternate formats, your client, boss or colleague will not be able to edit those slides.
That said, at least they will be able to view your custom font.
PowerPoint Font Summary
The rule of thumb should be to avoid using custom fonts wherever possible in presentations that need to be edited by more than one or two other people.
If you have to use custom fonts, you can save your presentation as a picture presentation or convert your presentation into the PDF file format.
And again, test, test, test!
It can only help to make sure you know how your presentation will look on older versions of PowerPoint and on a Mac/PC.