PowerPoint: Embed Fonts

PowerPoint Icon

Have you ever had the experience of building a PowerPoint presentation with a set of custom fonts that really give it pizzazz, but when you present in class the beautiful fonts you used have been replaced by blocky, plain looking fonts like Arial or Helvetica or even Times New Roman?  Or worse, by little squares or question marks?  Why?

Because you did not embed the fonts in the presentation, and the classroom computer you used to give the presentation does not have your fancy fonts installed.

Windows and OS X come with a large set of installed fonts, which on nearly everyone’s computer gets supplemented by a number of specialty fonts from various sources: usually from installing programs that come with their own font sets, downloading and installing fonts from the web, or deliberately purchasing great looking fonts and installing them.  Now, if you decide to use one of these non-standard fonts in your PowerPoint presentation, you must also be sure to embed it in the presentation when you save it, so that it will be available to PowerPoint when you present on a machine that does not have it installed.  Here’s how:

After building your presentation, click on the File tab, click Options, click Save, and check the box that says “Embed Fonts in the File.”  You then have two choices, to embed only the characters within your fancy font(s) that you have actually used in the presentation, or to embed all of the characters in the font(s).

PPT Embed Fonts

Unless saving space in the resulting file is a really big issue, it is better to save all the characters rather than just the characters you have used, though it does make a significant difference in the size of the saved file.

I created a small, 7-slide presentation that uses only two fonts.  First I saved it without the fonts embedded (the PowerPoint default setting) and the file size was 1,344,041 bytes.  (The presentation contained several photos, an Excel chart, and several pieces of SmartArt).  Then I chose to embed just the characters I used and saved again.  This time the file size was 1,850,405 bytes.  Not a big jump, but not negligible either.  Then I chose to embed all the characters in the two fonts in use in the presentation (one font for titles and one for body text).  The resulting file size was 3,185,085 bytes.  Wow.  Quite a jump.  But still, in these days of terabyte drives and unlimited cloud storage, pretty negligible.  The only time it might conceivably matter is if you are trying to squeeze the presentation on a nearly full flash drive, and I maintain you would be safer storing it in the cloud anyway.

The reason I recommend embedding all the characters rather than just the characters used is because I have often, just before presenting, discovered errors in my presentations.  (I know it is hard to believe, but true).  I need to quickly edit the presentation, but if the font characters are not available to me…  You see the problem.

If you find yourself designing with non-custom fonts, consider changing the embed setting to be sure your fonts will display as they should when you present.