How to embed fonts in Word documents so they stay even if you send the file

When you send a Word document to someone else, you expect it to look the way you intended. But your intended fonts don't always show up on your recipient's screen.

0313 principle

Sara Shutt wants to email Word documents with an unusual font. But her documents arrive without the font she chose.

Back in the days when we printed our documents and snail-mailed them, this wasn't a problem. But today, if you care about your chosen font, you have to make sure it travels with the document.

That's actually pretty easy with Microsoft Word. But there are, of course, qualifications.

I tested this in Word 2010 and 2013.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

To make the fonts travel with the file, click the File tab and select Options.

1. In the Word Options dialog box, select Save in the left panel.

2. Then check Embed fonts in the file.

1005 word options edited 1

That's it. The font will be visible on the recipient's computer…maybe. Also, the file might be huge.

Let's talk about file size. I tested this with a very small, 25KB DOCX file. But when I checked the Embed fonts in the file option and saved the file again, it had ballooned to over 4MB.

1005 more word options

No matter what you do, the files will be bigger. But they don't have to be that much bigger. If you go back to Options > Save, you'll find two options below "Embed fonts in the file." I found that checking Do not embed common system fonts reduced the file size to about 1.4MB. Checking the other option--or both options--reduced it to a reasonable 56KB.

Big or small, your choice fonts won't show up in all programs. In my tests, the font Notepaper Airplanes showed up in Word and LibreOffice. It did not show up in WordPad (unless the font was pre-installed onto the PC) or Google Docs.

1005 libre wordpad

So it's possible that even with this change, your recipient will not see the fonts you chose.

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.