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  3. Safe Fonts in PowerPoint (and Why Yours Might Be Broken)
  1. PowerPoint Tutorials
  2. Formatting
  3. Safe Fonts in PowerPoint (and Why Yours Might Be Broken)

Safe Fonts in PowerPoint (and Why Yours Might Be Broken)


Did you know that not all fonts are safe to use in PowerPoint? There are some fonts that will radically mess up your presentation and in this article, you’ll learn which ones they are and how to make sure you’re using the safest possible fonts for PPT.

You’ll also see some examples of modern fonts and cool letter fonts and font you can use in your PowerPoint presentations.

[Watch] Safe PowerPoint Fonts Tutorial

To learn how to quickly replace all of the fonts withing your PowerPoint presentation, see our guide here.

Fonts not displaying correctly

If your fonts aren’t displaying correctly in your presentation, it’s like that it’s due to one of two things:

  1. You’re not using a safe standard font
  2. 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 it’s not compatible, and that’s with fonts.

Even with the default fonts that come with your computer and with Microsoft Office.

If you use a font that isn’t supported by the computer that’s opening the presentation, the 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:

Example of how non safe fonts in PowerPoint can change how everything on your slide is laid out

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.

Safe fonts in PowerPoint

The term ‘safe fonts’ refers to the standard fonts that are guaranteed to display correctly on all devices and all versions of Office.

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:

Picture of the 10 safest fonts in PowerPoint that will work in all versions of PowerPoint, Mac or PC

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 fonts in PowerPoint

The fonts that are likely to break your presentation are: Custom fonts.

Custom fonts are fonts that you have installed yourself on your computer.

And while custom fonts look cool, the problem about using them in your PowerPoint presentations (or Word, Excel)… is that they will only display on another computer if you install them there too.

You can do that to a boss or colleagues, but if you’re sending out the document to a bunch of people externally, ensuring that they install the font you’re using on their computer can be very hard (if not impossible) to do.

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:

  1. 100FreeFonts
  2. Urban Fonts
  3. DaFont
  4. Article: “The Best 100 Free Fonts”

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:

  1. MyFonts
  2. Fonts.com
  3. HypeForType

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:

Examples of cool handwritten letter fonts and modern 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.

What's next?

Updated on May 14, 2019

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