great fonts for presentations

Finding PowerPoint safe fonts can be a minefield! There are thousands of wonderful (and weird) fonts available, and only some of them are PowerPoint safe fonts. So choosing which font to use in your presentation needs to be done carefully.

First, consider where it will be viewed. For example, if your audience is in-house only and all of your company have your house style fonts installed then there isn’t a problem with using them (just so long as everyone has them installed that is…). However, if your house style fonts are non-standard PowerPoint fonts and the presentation is going to be viewed externally or on any machine which does not have the font installed – that’s where you could have a nasty problem.

Why do you need a PowerPoint safe font?

If your chosen PowerPoint font is non-standard (i.e. not a PowerPoint safe font) and the computer used to view the presentation doesn’t have this font installed, then PowerPoint will automatically substitute in a standard font, e.g. Calibri (the horror!) instead. This can make the presentation look very different (for example, text may wrap in odd places or fall off the slide altogether) and no one wants that. And no one wants Calibri either…

What’s the solution?

Happily, you don’t need to be a font geek to fix this, there are a few simple ways to stop it from happening!

  • You could only use the PowerPoint on machines that have the correct font installed. But, this may not be possible if you are sending the presentation out to clients or if it is being used at a conference or other meeting where it will be loaded onto a non-company machine which does not have your font installed.


  • There is the option to embed a non-standard font into the PowerPoint itself. This option is limited though because it this only works for .TTF* fonts (not .OTF* fonts) and whilst previously it didn’t work at all when presentations were viewed on a Mac, Mac it seems can now also embed fonts.


  • If you are 100% sure that your presentation is finalised you can save it as a PDF before distribution. But, again, there is a downside to this. Although fonts are embedded automatically in PDFs, suddenly your presentation will be a lot harder to edit and any nifty animations you have added will be lost.


  • You could replace the font with images of the text. Yes, this will look the same, but again you have now made your presentation a lot harder to edit in the future.


  • The most effective solution is to replace the font with a standard (safe) PowerPoint font (e.g. Arial, Century Gothic, Verdana) instead. You can choose the font which is the closest match in terms of your house style font for a similar look and feel. The downside to this is if your house style font is particularly quirky you may not be able to find a suitable equivalent. In this case you can refer to the above options.


What are PowerPoint safe fonts?

We have already mentioned Arial, Century Gothic and Verdana – there are more to choose from. Other fonts that are safe to use cross-platform are Times New Roman, Times, Calibri, Courier and Courier New – to name just a few. Windows & Microsoft update the safe fonts with each new release, but you have to play it safe since not everyone gets updates at the same time. You can find more listed here: Indezine article on fonts.  Something else you should bear in mind is whilst “safe” – fonts like Calibri are the default and are so over-used that frankly anything other than Calibri is a good move if you want to look even a fraction different.

This list below from 2018 is already dated, but these fonts are still safe of course (grabbed the above Indezine article).

A list of safe fonts. But you'd best google it afresh, it changes!

*What are .TTF and .OTF fonts?

TrueType Fonts (.TTF) came first and were designed to work with on both PCs and Macs. OpenType Fonts (.OTF) were developed later to work in Adobe and Microsoft packages. The main difference between .OTF and .TTF is in the advanced typesetting features which .OTF offers. There are some extra frills such as ligatures and ‘alternate characters’ (also known as glyphs) available, that give designers more options to work with.

Further information

There are a number of webpages that will talk you through all of this in more detail:

With font selection it is better to go with a safe option.