For almost as long as I have been using Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, I have enjoyed downloading a range of fonts to enhance the appearance of my presentations or documents.
A couple of people have asked me lately how to use downloaded fonts. This post is an overview.
I’m sure many people agree Times New Roman, Arial, Comic Sans and Jokerman can be a little overused in Office documents.
There are thousands of other fonts available that people around the world have created and shared.
Find a website:
There are a plethora of websites on the internet offering free fonts. Here are just four
If you google “free fonts” you will find many many more.
Choose your font:
Some websites offer thousands of different fonts and it can be a bit overwhelming to find one you like.
Most websites organise their fonts into categories such as calligraphy, cartoon, handwriting, stencil etc. This helps you browse to find the types of fonts you are after.
Tip about choosing fonts:
Some fonts don’t include punctuation or numbers. Other fonts have some strange features such as a raised full stop or some uppercase letters looking like lowercase letters.
It pays to play around to find fonts that you find functional. Downloading fonts is so quick and easy that it doesn’t matter if you download some that you decide aren’t useful to you. You can delete them later.
While there are thousands of free fonts available on the internet, most of them are only free for private use. On some sites, the font downloads with a readme.txt file with information about the font, author and usage licence. Other sites like www.dafont.com tell you about the licence information next to the “download” button.
If you have Windows 7, you simply need to find a font online and click on the download button. When the download box pops up click on save file. You then need to unzip and install your font. Double click on your font to open it and click on extract all files on the tool bar up the top. When your file extracts, double click on the file name and you will be able to see a preview. Finally, click on install on the top toolbar in the preview. Your font should now appear in programs like Microsoft Office (your might need to restart first).
If you have earlier versions of Windows you usually need to copy and paste the extracted file into your fonts folder (you can find this in Control Panel).
More detailed instructions and instructions for Macs can be found on most of the font websites. This site also has some detailed instructions for various operating systems.
Important note about downloaded fonts:
Sometimes, people don’t realise that while their downloaded fonts look great on their computer and documents, they will not appear on others’ computers unless they have installed the same fonts. That means if you’re sharing a Word Document or PowerPoint with someone, the fonts will revert to a (not very pretty) default font. Your formatting might also be all off making your hard work look like a bit of a mess!
If you’re emailing someone a Word document and you want them to see your downloaded fonts, you can send it as a PDF. In Office 2010, go to file, save and send, send as PDF. While there are ways to embed some fonts into Word documents, I have found sending as a PDF to be the quickest and easiest method.
If you’re preparing a PowerPoint to use on another computer, it’s best to choose standard fonts to avoid the formatting issues.
If you download fonts and you decide don’t want them, you can delete them. Your fonts will be easier to navigate if you don’t have to sort through ones you don’t like to find what you’re after.
In Windows, go to Control Panel – Fonts and right click on the fonts you don’t want. Press delete.
Just because you’ve downloaded many fonts doesn’t mean you should use them all, or even three or four, in one document. I believe overusing fonts can look a bit like a jumbled mess. I like to stick to using two fonts per document, one for the heading and one for the body – unless you’re creating some sort of poster or newsletter where you want to create an eclectic look.
You also want to make sure your fonts are easy enough to read. Some fonts are attractive but difficult to decipher.