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Embedding fonts

First off, if you use a Mac version of Office earlier than Office 365, you can skip the rest of this page. Mac PowerPoint can't embed fonts, and it can't use fonts that have been embedded by a Windows version of PowerPoint. That's a real pity and a real impediment to cross-platform compatibility. As of early 2019, though, subscription versions of Mac PPT (Version 16.11 and later) can embed fonts and use fonts that other versions of PPT have embedded.

Next, if you're trying to embed OpenType (OTF) fonts, see You cannot embed an Adobe OpenType font in a document in an Office program. Note that this applies to fonts with an .OTF extension. Some fonts will appear in Control Panel | Fonts with an "O" icon and identify themselves as OpenType, but will have a .TTF extension. These may be embeddable. Read on for more information. You can also look at the icon to the left of the font in PowerPoint's font listbox. If it's a TTF font, it'll have a TT icon.

[Thanks to Trina Roberts for the most complete treatment of PowerPoint font embedding I've ever seen or wished I'd written. I've tried to keep it updated for later versions of Windows and PowerPoint and font formats - SR. If there are aspersions to be cast, throw 'em my way.]

It is possible to embed fonts in your PowerPoint presentations.

But there are GOTCHAS

No font embedding for Macs

Mac versions of PowerPoint can't embed fonts or use fonts that have been embedded by a Windows version of PowerPoint.

PowerPoint only embeds TrueType fonts

If you need to distribute a presentation that includes PostScript font data, consider saving it as PDF, either using the built-in feature in PowerPoint 2007 and later or using Adobe Acrobat or one of the other PDF-making programs. The result won't be an editable presentation, but it'll display text in your chosen fonts.

And not ALL TrueType fonts will work

And not all TrueType fonts are embeddable. The font's maker can assign one of four different levels of embeddability:

PowerPoint cannot embed non-embeddable fonts. If you try to embed them, you'll see an error message explaining that some fonts cannot be saved with the presentation. In later versions of PowerPoint, you'll also see a list of the fonts that can't be embedded.

Embedding a font that's Editable or Installable saves all or some of the characters from the font within the presentation. When you open the presentation on a computer that doesn't have the font, the text displays correctly. You can edit the text, add more text in the same font, and save the changes with the font still embedded.

However, if the font was embedded using a more recent version of PowerPoint, the user may have chosen the option to embed only the characters used. This embeds only a partial font, one that includes only some characters; you probably won't be able to edit the text satisfactorily using this font.

Embedding an Edit-embeddable font will not install the font on the computer, so you will not be able to use that font in any other presentations or other programs.

Embedding an Install-embeddable font actually installs the font on the computer when you open the document that contains it. The font will stay installed and will be usable in other presentations and in other programs. These are fairly rare.

WARNING: If an embedded font isn't editable/installable and you open the presentation in PowerPoint 2003 on a computer where the font isn't installed, the presentation will open as read-only. You won't be able to edit it. You won't be able to save it, even to a new name. If you run into this situation, here are some workarounds/fixes:

There's a bit more info here: PowerPoint opens presentations as Read Only, won't allow editing when fonts embedded

Preview/Print embedding is a little bit touchy. It basically allows what the name implies: you can preview or print a presentation with the font embedded, but you cannot make any changes to the presentation. This doesn't just apply to the text using the embedded font; you can't make any changes to anything in the presentation. Actually, that's not quite accurate; in some versions, you can make all the changes you want, but you cannot save them. If you try to save the presentation after making changes, you will not be allowed to re-embed the font. In other words, you can only embed Preview/Print fonts once in a given presentation. Once you open the presentation on a machine that doesn't have the font installed, you can't save any changes without losing the embedded font.

If you're going to distribute a presentation that'll be played but never edited on other Windows PCs, Preview/Print embedding should present no problems. If the presentation will be edited by others, it's best to choose a different font, one that allows Edit or Install embedding.

How do I know what's embeddable and what's not?
You may be wondering how you're supposed to know what embedding "level" a font has. If you bought the TrueType font, your original license may tell you. Otherwise:

Watch out for file size

If you embed a font, you're adding font information to your presentation file, so the file will get bigger. If you embed lots of fonts in a presentation, you will start to notice that your file is large. Unicode fonts and East Asian fonts can be HUGE.

Miscellaneous gotchas

Why bother with embedding at all if it's this difficult?

You may also be wondering why you should bother with embedding at all--why not just send the font file along with the presentation and have the person install it?

Simple: it's illegal. Sending the file along with your PowerPoint presentation is like sending your client (or whomever) the PowerPoint CD so they can install the application.

When you buy a font, you buy the right to use it on your own computer. But unless you specifically bought the right to distribute the font, you cannot legally give copies to clients, vendors or even others in your organization. If you're not sure whether you've bought distribution rights, it's almost certain that you haven't.

Solutions to the whole mess? Learn how embedding works and use it. It's simple to use, most of the time it works and when it won't, PowerPoint will usually warn you.

Or, stick to "basic" typefaces--Arial, Times New Roman, Courier New, Symbol. Boring, but reliable.

To learn more about fonts

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Embedding fonts
Last update 31 October, 2020