Save me from Arial.
April 6, 2006 7:07 AM   Subscribe

How can I use my own fonts in a PowerPoint presentation?

I am presenting my honours thesis Monday. To cut down on delays between presenters, we are required to submit a powerpoint file (for PC) tomorrow. I'm on a Mac. I want to use custom fonts, not just the common -- and ugly -- fonts shared between Mac/PC. Google is quite clear you cannot embed fonts in Mac for use in a PC slideshow. (And you can only embed TrueType on PC! Gah!)

Anyway around this?
posted by docgonzo to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
Can you rasterize everything? Send each slide to Photoshop, save as a GIF/JPG/PNG/whatever's appropriate, then recreate your PowerPoint presentation so it just goes from graphic to graphic. I'm actually considering doing something similar so I can use decent fonts and attractive themes in Keynote on my Mac yet end up with a result that I can recreate on my PC and distribute to associates who use PowerPoint, and this was the only answer I could come up with, too.
posted by bcwinters at 7:18 AM on April 6, 2006

Go to the library or a computer lab with PCs and fix the deck on a PC.
posted by Merdryn at 7:21 AM on April 6, 2006

Could you make each of your slides hold an embedded image instead of a list or block of text created within PowerPoint? For instance, if you have a bulleted list, format it the way you like in your word processor or Illustrator and then import it into PowerPoint as a .png or .tif? I guess this could be a major hassle if you have many slides or if they have to remain editable, though.

A few fonts are usable and decent between the two -- Georgia, Verdana (if you don't get a good answer here).
posted by theredpen at 7:21 AM on April 6, 2006

Farout suggestion.. could you import into Keynote, do the fonts, then export back to PowerPoint? I haven't tried it, but I'm wondering if it might turn the fonts into outlines or something.
posted by wackybrit at 7:33 AM on April 6, 2006

Trebuchet MS isn't too bad a font. Using a load of "custom" fonts can make it look very unprofessional anyway, unless of course you do have an eye for good design... in which case I'd create everything in Photoshop and import into Powerpoint.
posted by twistedonion at 7:40 AM on April 6, 2006

Unless you know ahead of time what resolution the projector will use, rasterizing will probably look like poo. If left with the choice of "desired fonts with poor antialiasing/hinting and awful jaggies vs. standard fonts with smooth edges and good hinting" I would pick the latter every time. You might be able to mitigate this if you rasterize to a high resolution but then the filesize will be enormous.

Find a PC to use or stick to stock fonts.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:41 AM on April 6, 2006

You can even skip a step. If you have a lot of slides, this is an afternoon's work. But it's doable:

Go to "File>Save as" and save each slide as jpg. Then recreate your presentation with the saved jpgs. NOTE: This will only work if you have no animation.

If you do have animation, you have two options-- you can cut up the jpegs and then insert individual passages in your presentation in place of live text. This will be time-consuming, but you can get very close to your original with this method. Alternately, you can improvise-- use the jpegs of the slides, and make text appear by disappearing boxes filled to the same color as the background and placed over the text. This will be less spectacular (or tacky, depending on what you think of PowerPoint) but it will be quicker.

posted by Mayor Curley at 7:44 AM on April 6, 2006

Just use Verdana (bold and italic for interest) and be done with it. This is not the end of the world. Trebuchet MS is also okay, and slightly less formal looking than other fonts. Georgia is your best non-Times-Roman choice for serif fonts.
posted by zpousman at 7:50 AM on April 6, 2006

I'll second Merdryn's suggestion - if you're moving a PowerPoint deck between Macs and PCs, you absolutely need to plan on reviewing and repairing it on the destination system. If you want to finesse the fonts, do it there.

PowerPoint is notoriously incompatible between platforms, and there are a host of potential pitfalls. Even if you use common fonts, for one thing, they're going to render differently on a PC, possibly mangling your layout. Even worse, if you copy and paste JPEG images from a web browser into the deck on a Mac, they don't embed as JPEGs but as Quicktime-encoded TIFFS (the Mac's clipboard format) - unviewable and unfixable on Windows PowerPoint. And there are plenty more issues that you won't discover until you've pulled it up on a PC...

(Making the slides in a graphics program is possible, but then you lose the ability to do last-minute edits, and you really ought to check it on a PC anyway.)

The best alternative, if you can't get your hands on a PC: find out if you can submit the presentation as a PDF, and create it with Adobe Acrobat or Mac OS, preferably the latter. You'll lose your slide transitions and animations, but I promise nobody will miss them.

Good luck presenting!
posted by a young man in spats at 7:53 AM on April 6, 2006

JPEG for text and line-art? Are you crazy? That's just going to add artifact noise to compound the nastiness of poor hinting and antialiasing that result from bitmap scaling.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:55 AM on April 6, 2006

Merdryn wrote: "Go to the library or a computer lab with PCs and fix the deck on a PC."

This is probably your best option. You will find that Mac to PC Powerpoint transfer is generally good but not perfect. Much better than it used to be, back in 98 or so, but you will still want to test it on a PC (preferably using the same version of Office you will use to run the presentation) before you submit it. Make sure everything works as expected - slide transitions, animations, any included multimedia (sound, video, etc.) and THEN check your fonts. Embed using the PC. There are many, many TT fonts you can use if you want to. You may not be able to find your favorite - but for example Lucida Grande is a TTF font, Georgia and Verdana are generally safe, etc. Tahoma (which comes with Office) is another option.

You might also consider the following three points:

1. All arguments against bastardized fonts aside, what exactly is wrong with Arial? Like it or not, Arial : Windows as Helvetica : Mac. It's a sans-serif font that is on every Windows system, and displays cleanly on the types of displays you use for Powerpoint, even at small font sizes. Yes, it's not Helvetica - but you go and try to find a Windows box with Helvetica installed. I've tried.

2. What is really wrong with the other "ugly shared fonts": Are they really so horrible as to offend your senses (given that 95% of the web uses these same core cross-platform fonts)? Or is it just that you honestly want your presentation to stand out from the others? Using a full-screen image is not a good idea. You have no idea how it will look, or how well it will load, and any last-minute corrections to the thing - well, forget that, no way to quickly fix a misspelled word. If you want it to stand out, make your content and your presentation style stand out. Nobody will remember which font you chose.

3. Nine times out of ten, using "custom fonts" means the same thing as "custom animation": Distraction, distraction, distraction. Powerpoint is not a way for you to show off your design and animation skills. It wasn't intended to be so, and with something like an Honors thesis - in which you are presenting some sort of scientific data, I assume? - using more than 2 fonts in the entire presentation (such as one for titles, one for text), or using any animation other than "appear", is generally a bad, bad bad bad BAD idea. Trust me. Over the last 10 years of science conferences, lectures, talks, presentations, etc. - You want NOTHING to stand between your data and your audience. They will pay more attention to you if the presentation is not a distraction, and you will look better as a result.

Unless your Honors thesis is for a graphics design / art degree, follow the above advice, and just ignore your "ugly" fonts.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:58 AM on April 6, 2006

Trebuchet and Verdana are both very good for onscreen use. In addition, Trebuchet isn't particularly ugly either.

I would stick with either of them - I have been converting everything to Trebuchet recently - and forget about it.

Alternatively, I would save it as a PDF, but to operate it properly on the destination computer you'd have to be sure they had Acrobat installed and that you could tweak the prefs so that it will open the file in slideshow format.
posted by mikel at 8:10 AM on April 6, 2006

If they'll let you submit a PDF as a slideshow, drop Powerpoint altogether and use Quark or InDesign to design your slideshow. But it sounds like they're being pretty strict about the presentation, so you might have to swallow your pride and use Verdana and Trebuchet like everyone else.
posted by chrominance at 8:37 AM on April 6, 2006

JPEG for text and line-art? Are you crazy? That's just going to add artifact noise to compound the nastiness of poor hinting and antialiasing that result from bitmap scaling.

And totally wreck the beauty of a PowerPoint presentation, right? Consider the general quality of works produced within the medium.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:37 AM on April 6, 2006

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