Thursday, October 18, 2007

Missing Fonts in Microsoft Word

Have you ever experienced a time when Microsoft Word mysteriously changed your fonts to something else? Find out how to correct this problem with Microsoft Word's nifty feature.

Where Did My Fonts Go?

Your report is finished and all you have to do is print it. You spent all night trying to figure out what font faces will be appropriate for the context, and finally decided on a nice font that strongly suggest the theme of your report. You figured you can print the document at the office, only to find out that all the fonts you've used have been changed.

Face it, Microsoft Word performs a technique called Font Substitution, where your fonts are replaced by a similar looking font face. The reason behind it is that Microsoft Word cannot find the appropriate fonts in the system and therefore substitutes other similar looking fonts to display the document properly, otherwise, all you'll see are a bunch of squares that's pretty much garbage.

Missing fonts occur when a document is created with a very unique font, which is usually installed on the computer which created the document. To put it simply, not all computers have the same fonts installed on them. So, what you need to do is to have that font installed on another computer.

Of course, you can copy the font from the \Windows\Fonts folder and install it on the next computer, but did you know Word has a feature that does this for you? Well, it's a slightly different trick, it embeds the font into the document, so it looks the same on any computer. It usually results in a slightly bigger file, but at least you are guaranteed your document is WYSIWYG.

To embed fonts to your document

Microsoft 2003 and earlier

  1. Go to Options under the Tools menu.

  2. Open the Save tab

  3. Find the option, Embed fonts to this document. You can either choose whether to embed the whole font (bigger file size), or embed only the characters used in the document (usually results in smaller file size, but it's not recommended if you are still going to edit the document later)

  4. Click OK to save changes

Microsoft 2007

  1. Click the Office Menu button. It's the button on the top-left corner with the Office logo.

  2. Click Word Options at the bottom of the menu

  3. On the next window, click the Save option on the left

  4. Scroll until you find the option, Embed Fonts used in this document. You will be presented with the choice whether not to embed common system fonts (system fonts are fonts installed when Windows is installed, and usually includes Tahoma, Arial, and Times New Roman), and embed characters used in the document (results in smaller file sizes, but is not recommended if you will edit the document later)

  5. Click OK to save changes

The caveat though is that your documents will result in bigger file sizes, especially small documents (from 5 KB to 300+ KB) so be sure to watch out for that. And Word will save your document a little slower as it has to embed the fonts onto the document. Auto Save will also lag, so I recommend that you embed or enable the font embedding just before saving and quitting Word.

Also, fonts are only embedded for the current document, so you have to do this either to all your documents, or try to open NORMAL.DOT and apply that. Word doesn't really install those fonts into the Fonts folder, and you cannot extract the font used by regular means (unless some hack exists that I don't know yet).

There you go, saving documents to preserve formatting. But the best option is to use simple fonts and avoid unusual ones. At least you are assured that your document will look exactly as you typed it. And of course, you can convert it to PDF format. That preserves all formatting, but prevents the document from being edited easily.

One final tip, this is applicable to all Office suite programs. Pretty neat, huh?


Anonymous said...

that's quite an explaination, but very good solution

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much. I just spent hours trying to find a solution via Google for this very problem (old Word 2000 files with fonts that are not supported on Word 2008 for Mac), and your write up was the clearest written I could find. Thank you!

Alex said...

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