Recommendation: PowerPoint Font Selection: Warnings & Recommendations

About this lesson

The most basic element in all PowerPoint is font selection.  Typography holds a wealth of choices and pitfalls.  Learn which are the right fonts to use and how the wrong choices can lead to both creative and technical problems in PowerPoint.

This tutorial will explain how fonts interact with PowerPoint at the computer level; with huge warnings of what NOT to do, despite the recommendations of other websites and YouTube videos.  The wrong choices can destroy you when presenting.

And then we provide a basic tutorial on font choice and design ideas; which leads to six sample pairings of fonts that you could mimic in your work.


The presentation focuses on font selection in PowerPoint and how it can affect the overall appearance and clarity of a presentation. It warns against using fanciful fonts that may lead to PowerPoint presentation disasters and advises sticking with the safe PowerPoint font choices listed. We discuss the four major typeface styles, serif, sans serif, specialized, and slab fonts and provides six font pairings that work well together. Microsoft’s pre-built sets of prepared fonts are also discussed as they follow the rules of consistency and clear professional illustration power.

We emphasize the importance of selecting a consistent strategy for font selection in professional presentations and not picking different types of fonts for different slides. The fonts must also be optimized for the digital screen to ensure visual clarity. The presentation warns against adding non-standard fonts to the computer as it can lead to compatibility problems and hidden font substitutions, and recommends examining presentation fonts carefully to make sure they have not changed.

In conclusion, the presentation provides useful information and guidelines for font selection in PowerPoint presentations. It stresses the importance of choosing fonts that are optimized for the digital screen, and recommends sticking to safe PowerPoint font choices listed or using Microsoft’s pre-built sets of prepared fonts. By following these guidelines, presenters can avoid font-related disasters and create professional and visually appealing presentations.


  • 00:15 Font Presentation Disaster
  • 02:03 History of Typography
  • 02:43 Fonts inside of PowerPoint
  • 04:35 Fonts on Your Computer
  • 04:47 Compatibility Issues with Foreign Fonts
  • 05:10 What Happens when Font Can’t be Found
  • 05:58 Default Fonts by Operating System
  • 07:17 Creation and Presentation Computers Must Match Fonts
  • 07:39 Office 365 Cloud Fonts
  • 08:17 The Safe PowerPoint Fonts to Use
  • 08:50 Best Practices when Selecting Fonts
  • 09:28 The Four Typeface Families: Serif, San Serif, Script, Slab
  • 11:05 Find Microsoft’s Prebuilt Font Pairings
  • 11:51 Six Recommended Font Pairings for PowerPoint


Subject Microsoft PowerPoint

Software Compatibility All versions of PowerPoint


Course Completed

PDF Files There are not any files associated with this lesson.



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font selection is yummy frosting on your PowerPoint presentation cake. But beware of websites and YouTube videos that claim you must use some fanciful fonts, because they might lead you to a PowerPoint presentation disaster. Imagine you’re about to give your most important presentation of your life, you launch Slide Show, and you look and just about die. This is the original slide to build. But this is what’s displayed in front of your boss and your co workers or your classmates. Your Wait, what’s wrong, look closer. Here is the original font. And here is the one that people are seeing. It has different fonts, see how the yes is not the same. And whilst subtle, even the secondary title is using an unplanned substituted font, and it can get worse with auto replace fonts, causing line breaks that you had not even expected? Original, and the auto fonts substituted multi line, mess of a slide all random and potentially destroying your hard work, PowerPoint run amok, plus more muck when you start getting error messages along the way. Why? Why why? Well, I’ve got answers to those wise, plus how to select the right font for your PowerPoint presentation. Hi, this is Les from Power Up Training. And together, we will get up to speed on how fonts interact with PowerPoint, saving you the grief of broken fonts that can destroy your presentation, and then exploring a half a dozen stylish font pairing that you can safely choose to clearly create a professional PowerPoint presentation. The history of typography goes back to the age of hand scribe man manuscripts by overworked monks more than 1500 years ago, the sophistication of the printing press with bookmaking and pamphlets and newspapers created a class of our teens who developed different families of typography, to express their emotions and convey information. There are 1000s upon 1000s of different fonts to choose. And to confuse. For a PowerPoint, we’re not creating textbooks or magazines. But instead, we’re focusing on presentations for the big screen, or the Zoom meeting. The format and medium requires a specialized use of typography. Our primary goals are one, the appearance of professionalism, because our peers will be judging us and to more importantly, visual clarity. To sharpen the focus of our presentation message. Our font selection should be focused on these goals. But which fonts, PowerPoint lists hundreds of fonts, and the internet provides 1000s upon 1000s

It can be overwhelming to make it worse is that these choices can multiply into 1000s of presentation mistakes, both visual disasters and PowerPoint failures, as we witnessed at the start of this tutorial. So let’s tackle both issues of technology failure, and successful typography, font selection fonts. be ever so careful. The Internet wants to sabotage you. A Google search for best fonts will provide some clear ideas. But more likely, they’ll be better suited for poster boards and books and essays, not PowerPoint. And this is true even for those that claim to be targeting PowerPoint. PowerPoint fonts are specialized breeds that should be optimized for the digital screen. Furthermore, these internet based recommendations page get you into trouble in that you need to buy yes buy as some fonts are licensed per computer, or even if they’re free or illegal to download. There is a small risk of viruses pot. If you’d like to go outside the collection of included the PowerPoint fonts, there’s even more hazards to be aware of. Let’s look first, the font must exist on the computer for PowerPoint to access. They may be included in the default computer operating system fonts, or you can download and add new faults. Something I don’t recommend. I know I know. There are so many pretty fonts to choose from. But adding non standard fonts brings the risk of compatibility problems. If the non standard fonts are added, and then you collaborate with others on your PowerPoint file, or you present on a different computer, there is the huge risk that the font can’t be found. And Microsoft PowerPoint will mysteriously and quietly, mess with your presentation. Never for the good. And it will attempt to find a matching font and do a behind the scenes substitution, which will result in a headache for you. So I highly, highly recommend that you do not add fonts to your computer, even for just one project, as you’re going to forget, and accidentally reuse the font for some future presentation and joint work group. And it’s going to haunt you for some unknown future universe. So listen to me at all will be good. Or maybe not. Default is not always the same default, even on the same platform here, because the default Windows font list by operating system. With each new update, Microsoft adds new font choices, which could be bad if you created your presentation on a Windows 11 computer. But the boardroom computer is an older Windows 10. A Mac users don’t get too smug. Because Apple does the same thing. With each new operating system release is not confusing enough to look how certain font families behave. A great example is Arial. First off, almost all fonts have enhancements, such as bold, or italics. But there are some fonts that have an enhanced new font that goes beyond bold, such as Windows Arial, black, if it says designed typography that is stronger type of font, it is more than bold, it is an artistic force. But if we look at it on the Mac computer, we find that Arial Black is not listed because it’s grouped with the other aerial enhancements on the Mac. Also confusing. So the rule is that the creation and presentation computers must have matching fonts. Otherwise, PowerPoint will perform hidden font substitutions. When working on a new computer platform, always examine the presentation fonts carefully to make sure that they’ve not changed. Lastly, I want to touch only briefly on the recently introduced Office 365 Cloud fonts, so many more fonts to add and cause more issues. If you’re on the paid subscription of PowerPoint 365. You can see these listed as font choices. But if not install, you need to click on the little download cloud. But this brings back all the same risks of compatibility. And that was so many, many more rules such as these. Oh my gosh, we have so many possibilities to choose from, what are we going to do?

Stick with the safe PowerPoint font choices listed here. And even then, you still have to be careful. For example, to be safe, it must be Arial and not Arial Narrow, which is a separate font, and it does not exist on pre Windows 10 computers. Or notice how Windows eight we’ll call Franklin Gothic, Franklin Gothic medium, and it doesn’t even have Gill Sans or Rockwell stick with these. But still double check. Okay, warnings done. Let’s get down to the best practices for font selection in PowerPoint. For professional presentations, pick a consistent strategy that can be used to pull all the individual Slides into a coherent vision. Don’t pick fonts of different types for different Slides, and add contrast. While three choices may be too much, having two choices, one font for the title, and a slightly different one for the subtitle, or bullet text box is a great approach for visually interesting, but not a challenging look. So what fonts to choose, let’s explore four major typeface styles. The top two common styles are serif and sans serif. Serif fonts add a bit of flair to each letter. The Extensions add not just an attractive stylistic flair, which should be designed to help lead your eyes from letter to letter to letter. Traditionally, Serif fonts are used in books or magazine articles that are read in paragraph groups of words. On the other hand, the second major typeface is sans serif, which is without serif or without a little extra little flair. Looking compare how these look less cluttered, or more plain compared to the serif fonts, they are typically more airy and open, and possibly more bold, making them excellent for legibility on a PowerPoint slide on the big screen. The two less common typeface families are the specialized such as script. fancy, fancy fancy, it can bring a motion and flair to your slide. But it’s extremely hard to read, especially in large quantities, use grip with care. And finally, slab fonts, bold and attention getters. These can be used from time to time, but just like using a loud voice in the presentation, shouting the whole time loses impact and is tiresome. So how do we put these fonts together? Unless you have a design department, or graphic artist friend, you might feel alone are tempted to search the internet and come back with trouble. Don’t worry, Microsoft has you covered. They have pre build sets of prepared fonts that work well together. And as a huge bonus, they’re compatible across various versions of PowerPoint. They follow the rules of consistency, and clear professional illustration power. To find them. Go to the design room menu, look for the various section on the right side of the screen. And there you’re going to find on the drop down menu, something called fonts. Let’s go ahead and explore six of my favorites.

The six that we’ll examine are all part of the Microsoft pairings that we saw moments ago. Number one, the classic Arial for the heading and Times New Roman for the text boxes.

This has been the default look for decades in PowerPoint. The title is easy to read sans serif. And the center text box is Times New Roman is a serif font. This neutral combination is simple and clear. Do note that I did make a change from the default in that the title is now bold. I like it to stand out more than the default non bold look, which you can see down here below. Sample number two is super clear set of fonts, Consolas for the title. And for Verdana for the text placeholder. Both are sans serif. The Verdana is a font built by Microsoft and has tall, lowercase and extra spacing between letters, making it super super readable, such as in a big presentation room. However, in my opinion, I think we need more contrast. So here’s my Power Up Training variation with the use of Georgia serif font that is still airy, and readable, provide some contrast to the slide. The third Microsoft pre made pairing that the highlight is Calibri light and Constantia. Calibri is another Microsoft sans serif typeface built for legibility on digital screens, as opposed to the printed page. It is a soft, warm appearance is good for both formal documentation that wants a dash of a modern look. Microsoft pairs it has the title font, but in the light format. Even bold does not jump out in my opinion. So as an alternative, I use the straight up main Calibri. The contrasting text placeholder font is Constantia. It’s another Microsoft Clear Type font with the focus on digital clarity. It is that tall font with a modern contrast between the thick and thin strokes. And like the Calibri is stands up tall with a near vertical axis and on to Garamond. It’s a classic, like the cliche Times New Roman, but a design predating this 16th century. It’s more formal and elegant, bringing some gravitas to your presentation. For the main text. Microsoft has paired it with the Trebuchete and the font is from the 20th century is also super clear to read. And while at first glance, it does look a little plain. Take a closer look, because some of the surprises, such as the lowercase L and the fancy G. Interestingly, Microsoft pairing has swapped the sans serif to the text body In the serif Garamond, for the title, breaking the rules, which are made to be broken to give a more unique look, which I will use from time to time. Back to the more traditional sans serif title, and serif body pairing, century Gothic is another mid 20th century font classic, but still a breezy, less formal look. He’s almost like the form of letters that children learn to print in school, extremely clear to read across the room, paired up to the Palentino. Century Gothic contrast well with the Palatino, as is not just a serif, but one with a lighter touch. Look at the delicate “h”s, but still with a little subtle flourish. Also look at the highlight in the capital R’s, and P’s. This is another favorite of mine. And in fact, I use it for this main presentation that you’ve been watching on YouTube. And lastly, Gill Sans, a historic, bold sans serif font used in signs and advertising. It’s more compact, with bolder strokes, and it’s an excellent headline font that boldly states his purpose, coupled with the more airy Georgia font for the body. We saw this earlier, and it’s an elegant contrast with the Gill Sans’ boldness. And now, you have a great foundation of how fonts work inside of PowerPoint, and some wonderful suggestions of how to precisely communicate your message with the right font choice. Why not subscribe to Power Up Training, and then go on to our next level of learning why words matter in PowerPoint? Click and power up your journey in PowerPoint