Office Fonts of Wisdom

A good way to ensure that your Microsoft Word and PowerPoint designs translate across programs, platforms and systems is to employ universally standard system fonts for live text, while using specialty fonts sparingly, and always as placed art.

While there is certainly a place for unique and unusual type — especially in logos, display copy and eye-catching document headers — it’s always a best practice to take non-traditional typefaces and process them to pixel RGB JPG images. As images rather than text, these type treatments will display and print correctly in any environment, regardless of operating system, software version or browser choice.

It’s important to remember that, in order to guarantee the integrity of a document across all platforms, choosing a cross-platform font is key. Fonts are the fundamental building blocks of all Word and PowerPoint documents, and are also the element most likely to cause problems.

Of course, if you’re building a PowerPoint deck that will be projected directly from your personal laptop, then you can use any typeface that is installed on your computer. But in most situations, presentations and documents are shared within and between companies, so a smarter choice is to select a typeface that is already resident on both Windows and Apple computers. These fonts will not only display well if your document is opened on a different platform, but will also make the transition to the web with a minimum of compatibility problems.

Common cross-platform fonts include: Arial, Courier New, Georgia, Helvetica, Impact, Palatino, Book Antiqua, Times New Roman, Trebuchet and Verdana. (For a great resource of cross-platform fonts categorized by Office version, click here.)

It should be noted that every version of Office has updated, improved and refined its core system fonts (Microsoft’s recent incorporation of Segoe into its logotype, for instance, virtually insures that it will become a widely utilized system font). But for now, you can be assured that any document that employs one or more of these standard font families will retain its original look and feel in almost any computing environment.

Dan Catalano is a Senior Office Document Production Specialist with Office ROI. If you have any questions, comments or business requests, please don’t hesitate to contact him at