Step away from the novelty fonts. If you’re delivering a business presentation, these fantastic five are the only PowerPoint presentation fonts you will ever need.
Fonts are like ties. For every white-collar professional clad in a smart black tie, there’s another sporting a Daffy Duck tie. We’re not going to debate the merits of wearing Looney Tunes ties to work, but we would like to stop this novelty font fashion in its tracks. Does the internet really need another blog lampooning Comic Sans? We’ll save the cheap jibes for another time: right now there’s work to be done and information to be imparted to aid your PowerPoint presentation font selection.
Font choice might be a contentious issue, but in the corporate realm, 99% of all fonts can automatically be discounted for reasons of legibility or professionalism. We’ve been a presentation agency for a long time, and we reckon these five are the best system fonts around. Five fonts that should be the cornerstone of all your presentations. Use these fonts, or close variations thereof, in all your formal presentations, and you can’t go wrong. (Unless you try to incorporate all five into a single presentation, which is a recipe for disaster. Use two or three fonts at the most; one for body text and another for headings should do.)
Why use system fonts?
If you choose one of our recommended fonts, then it doesn’t matter what machine you (or anyone else using your presentation) present from. Whether it’s Mac or PC, your presentation will look as intended. There’s certainly a place for custom fonts in presentations, but you have to be sure that whatever machine you open your presentation on has the fonts installed. Otherwise, font substitution occurs and…well, it just looks a right mess.
This infographic details which system fonts are available on various operating systems from 2010 onwards.
So, if you’re going to be using a system font and fancy a change from using Arial, then look no further. Today we’re going to lay it all on the line and name the fonts that should form your go-to set. These five fonts might be ubiquitous, but they’re popular for a reason: they’re clean, legible and professional. In other words, they’re everything you’re looking for in a PowerPoint presentation font.
Sans serif presentation fonts
Tahoma was designed by Matthew Carter and is one of Microsoft’s most popular sans serif typefaces (it was added to Mac OS in 2007). The original Tahoma consisted of two font weights (regular and bold) and was created to address the challenges of on-screen display, particularly at small sizes. It’s also a very neutral font, one that will complement the theme and tone of your slideshow rather than trying to stamp its authority all over it. Using Tahoma in your presentation won’t show off your wacky personality, but it will show that you know a good clean font when you see one.
Another Matthew Carter font, Verdana was created specifically to address the challenges of on-screen display (particularly with the low screen resolutions we had back in 1996). This sans serif font is a unique example of type design for the computer screen. The generous width and spacing of Verdana’s characters is key to the legibility of this font on the screen. It’s clean-cut yet retains just enough personality to liven up your presentation. Verdana will add a dash of character without stealing the show.
Geoffrey Lee designed the Impact font for the Stephenson Blake foundry in 1965. It was included as one of the core fonts for the web and, as such, has been seen by just about everyone. But it’s popularity hasn’t made it any less impactful (sorry). The sans serif display typeface is very heavy and condensed in style. Impact is a brilliant font to use in situations requiring a strong standout statement. It looks great in all capitals, and it’s effortless to read – ideal for titles and headers. Pair Impact (titles) with Tahoma (body copy) for a winning presentation font combination.
Serif presentation fonts
Georgia is our first serif typeface on the list. It possesses characteristics that offer outstanding legibility and readability, such as high contrast between the regular and bold weights, ample letter spacing and character designs that help distinguish commonly-confused letterforms. It’s bold is significantly bolder than most bolds. That’s because when it was being designed on screen in the mid-nineties, you could only increase in one-pixel segments. Jumping in weight by one pixel is greater than is conventional in traditional print. If you’re after a modern and friendly look, but with a classic feel, Georgia is the font for you.
Palatino is designed for legibility, with its open counters and carefully weighted strokes, producing a typeface that was legible even on the inferior paper of the post-World War II period. It has become a modern classic in itself and is popular among professionals. Palatino has sharper edges than Georgia, which gives this font a dash of character, while still looking professional, in a classical way. It was initially designed for headings, but we think it can also be used for body copy on your presentation slides.
There’s still a place for more adventurous fonts, particularly if you work in a creative industry where a touch of flair is desirable. For now, just know that in professional situations, fancy fonts are out – and so are the fancy ties. Keep it clean, keep it simple and keep it slick.