News & Insights

What's the story with fonts?

A great font choice will enrich a design and support the overall identity of a branding project. But, when it comes to that font working in Word or PowerPoint, another aspect needs to be considered. When we’re building a template, taking the font into consideration is an integral part of the process. At one end of the scale there’s the standard fonts that ship with Microsoft (think Arial and Calibri), which will never give a template user any grief. At the other end of the scale, we have custom fonts. The most obvious downside of custom fonts is that they need to be installed on all machines that the template is to be used on. And frustratingly, Microsoft doesn’t alert you if the font in the document isn’t working, it just uses a substitute font. What about embedding the font? Fonts can be embedded into templates, but only if they’re true type and only on a PC (at the moment), and even then, only if that feature has been built into that specific font. An embedded font can also increase the file size of a template, sometimes excessively. There’s another aspect to custom fonts which is harder to identify up front, and therefore more problematic. Not all font ligatures, weights, special characters or line spacing are available in Word or PowerPoint (even if they are in InDesign) and sometimes those aspects differ between Word and PowerPoint. It’s all in the way that the font is built. These tiny variations can make a real difference to a project’s timeline. On a recent job we were formatting a document that was hundreds of pages long. At the last minute we discovered that the line spacing for a particular font shifted when documents were printed. Everything looked fine on the screen, but when printed, the document pushed out the number of lines per page, resulting in multiple extra pages in an already lengthy document. So what's the solution? Choose your font carefully. Google fonts can work well, and are universally available but they also need to be downloaded and installed on all relevant machines and the same issues can apply, especially if the font includes font variations. Adobe fonts are good, because of their availability and they tend to be reliable. But there is no substitute for a robust font substitute! If you can bear to work with Arial, your Word & PowerPoint frustrations will fade away……