By Julie Terberg
Cloud fonts are here and the font story for PowerPoint has changed. No longer are we limited to a short list of fonts deemed safe for templates and shared presentations.
In my previous post: An update on “safe fonts” for PowerPoint, I explained what safe fonts are and how to avoid font substitution when sharing files with others. That information still applies to folks using older versions of Office. If your company is using PowerPoint 2010, 2013, or 2016, for instance, you’ll want to stick to one of the font families listed at the end of that post. If you have any influence or say in the matter, upgrade to Office 365! The subscription is well worth it for all the new features in PowerPoint, including font availability. Note: Office 2019 is a standalone version and will not get regular updates with new features.
Cloud fonts are available to Office 365 subscribers on all platforms and devices. If you have Office 365, you’ll see them in your font list indicated by a cloud and arrow icon. When you apply one of these fonts PowerPoint downloads it in the background and applies it to your text. When someone views the file with Office 365 or Office 2019, PowerPoint downloads missing fonts from the font service and the file renders the same as it was authored, without embedding. The same is true when the file is opened with the PowerPoint mobile app (Android or iOS) or PowerPoint Online.
There are more than 600 cloud fonts currently available, about 650MB in total file size. That’s an impractical amount to store on a mobile device so the cloud service downloads fonts as needed. Yes, you need an internet connection to see the cloud fonts, choose them, or download missing ones – the first time. Downloaded fonts are stored in cache and available to use in other Office apps. The fonts are cached as long as there is space and purged when there is need to save a new font. Because the fonts are cached and not stored in the Windows Fonts folder, you won’t be able to access them in other programs like the Adobe suite, for instance.
Here’s a quick snapshot of how you can use cloud fonts with different Office versions:
Office 365: the sky’s the limit (heh). This is the only version that allows you to select from all cloud fonts and use them to build font themes, templates, and new presentation content. You can embed fonts for other versions.
Office 2019: if someone shares a file that uses cloud fonts, you will be able to view and edit the presentation.
Office 2010, 2013, 2016 for Windows: cloud fonts are not recognized unless they are embedded. The good news is that all cloud fonts are fully embeddable, unlike many fonts purchased from foundries.*
When in doubt, embed cloud fonts. Embedding works well from most recent desktop versions of PowerPoint, including Office 365 and 2019 for Windows and Mac. You can embed cloud fonts for use with older versions of Office for Windows (2010, 2013, 2016) but note that older versions of Office for Mac (2008, 2011) will not recognize embedded fonts.
I’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to help you wade through the list of available cloud fonts. The guide includes an alphabetized index of modern Latin alphabet fonts, a section on symbol fonts, and a list of non-Latin, language-specific fonts and the languages each supports. Some pages are flagged with “new” which indicates the most recent additions to Office fonts. I will update the guide if Microsoft makes changes or additions to the font library.
Template designers and builders: the guide includes a legend to help you make decisions for theme body fonts. A green circle indicates that font is well suited for presentation body text. The gold square designates fonts that are okay choices for body text, but there are caveats indicated on each page. Some of these fonts have very thin strokes which may reduce legibility at small sizes. Others include non-lining figures, which means that some of the numerals extend above or below other characters. These characters are not well suited for chart labels or table figures. Other fonts deemed as okay choices may be missing italic or bold styles, which results in machine-bold or slanted text when font styles are applied in PowerPoint. The third legend symbol is a grey outlined circle which indicates those good ole safe fonts, those that are present with most older versions of Office and do not require embedding.
Let me know if you’ve found the guide helpful. If sharing with others, please credit Julie Terberg. Thanks.
For more information, refer to this article from Microsoft: Cloud fonts in Office
*A few notes regarding custom fonts and embedding: you can choose other fonts, beyond those on the cloud fonts list, for a template or presentation. Be careful doing so, as many fonts cannot be embedded at all. The font foundry or font creator can assign different levels of embeddability and those assigned as non-embeddable or preview/print will not embed in PowerPoint. You can see the font embeddability setting in the Windows Fonts folder. Fonts that are set to editable or installable will embed; this includes both TTF and OTF files. If you choose to embed fonts in your templates and files, test thoroughly on various systems and devices before distribution. Inform everyone who will use the files about the custom fonts and show them how to save their files with embedded fonts. Choose the option to embed all characters to enable full editability. Also note that embedding fonts will increase file size.