by Adam Noar
We’re big suckers for unique, custom fonts for PowerPoint. They can be cleaner, bolder, more whimsical, basically anything you want from a font for your exact needs, it can be done.
However, we know not everyone is able to use custom fonts. Particularly with work presentations, what if your boss doesn’t let you download those fonts onto the company computer?
What do you do? Do you wallow in the sadness of only being able to use standard fonts that are sure to be overused, overdone, and boring?
Of course not!
You don’t have to settle.
Lucky for you, we have some classic favorites that come standard with PowerPoint. These fonts can be just as impactful and work just as well with your business presentations!
They’re called classics for a reason – they never truly go out of style.
Check out our favorite tried-and-true fonts for any presentation:
Classic PowerPoint Font #1.) Futura
We’ve talked a bit about Serif and Sans-serif fonts here on Presentation Panda. Serif fonts have small strokes at the top and bottom of the letters that show where the line left off. They’re generally thought to be good for readability, although the debate on that isn’t settled.
Sans-serif fonts, on the other hand, don’t have those strokes. It makes them look cleaner and more minimalist, and if you’re taking the hint from Futura’s name, a little futuristic.
Futura actually has a really cool history as well. It was released all the way back in 1927, and is a great representation of the Bauhaus design – geometric, even-weight, and low contrast lettering all fit this style very well.
But what does all that mean for your presentation?
Well, there are a surprising amount of ways you can use it. We personally love this one for headers. For a simple font it’s very elegant, and can give your header a lot of personality without weighing it down. Its geometric and clean lines make it excellent for readability, so you can see how you like it as a text for the body as well. Basically, play around with it!
Classic PowerPoint Font #2.) Garamond
Probably not one you expected to make this list, but hear us out.
If you love fonts with a lot of history, get a load of this: the original Garamond was created for King Francis I in the 1540’s! It’s really lasted the test of time, though of course it has been updated a few times.
In its original form, it helped set the stage for old-style serif designs. Don’t let that put you off! What that means is that it resembled the handwriting of the time, just a bit more structured. He made it so that it mimicked the thin and thick lines of the pen pressing down on the paper, but was cleaner, so it was easier to read when the ink bled a little bit.
This gives it a great vintage feel, while still remaining professional and a bit more grown-up than some of the other “fun” fonts. We think it’s best suited for the big presentations, ones that warrant a lot of class and maybe a more classic and traditional feel without feeling boring.
The high-class handwriting feel of the font actually gives it quite a sharp look, but it can still be used for more creative presentations too. Because of its origin as a font to be used on paper, you’ll actually often find it used for books, but that doesn’t stop it from being used online, too – do Google or Apple ring a bell? Garamond was used for Google’s original logo, and for Apple’s infamous Think Different slogan. When you use Garamond, never doubt you’re in good company.
Classic PowerPoint Font #3.) Gill Sans
We’re willing to bet you’ve never given this font a second glance – but once you start using it, we guarantee you won’t be able to stop!
Gill Sans is another clean and classic font where a little goes a long way. Featuring a fairly even weight throughout the font with a few surprises (the “a”, for example, is a little more stylized), it’s well-balanced and very friendly. Can a font be friendly? We kind of want to be friends with this font.
If you’ve noticed a pattern, we tend to favor Sans serif fonts for headers, and this is no exception. It’s understated, and its nickname is the “Helvetica of England”. No wonder we like it! This was Britain’s answer to Futura, and got on board as one of the first Sans Serif fonts that had lowercase letters. In its heyday, it was used for everything – the British Railways, Penguin Books, and Monotype, just to name a few.
Need some more convincing? The BBC logo is Gill Sans! It really compliments BBC’s personality, a blend of modern and classic, but clean and unobtrusive. In this way, it’s excellent to use to set the stage for the personality of your presentation by using it for headers, and choosing a slightly heavier font for the main text.
This is also a font where we actually like, and recommend experimenting with, all the different weights available. It ranges from Light to Ultra Bold, making it useful for both headers and sub headers in your presentation when you want some more consistency without getting boring. For more tips on how to use your fonts once you pick them, check out our recommendations here.
Classic PowerPoint Font #4.) Helvetica
Speaking of Helvetica…you know we had to include Helvetica. How could we not?
Helvetica gets a bad rap for being overused, but we don’t agree! It’s really such a classic font that’s so versatile, of course it’s going to be used a lot. It’s because it’s great.
It’s one of those fonts that we like to call a “blender”. It can truly be used for everything, not because it’s boring, but because it’s perfectly balanced, neutral, and simple. Those are all positives in the font world, and make it a great beginner font to experiment with when you’re getting the hang of what fonts can do for your presentation.
We recommend starting with using it in headers – it’s clear and easy to read, while still having a distinct style (and yet another sans-serif one – you can tell we have a type). If you like that and want to experiment some more, it’s another font that is still usable in different weights – see how you like it using it for headers and sub headers, making a visual hierarchy with weights while keeping the font the same.
Helvetica is, of course, also incredibly popular. It’s timeless and distinct look makes it a winner for logos – American Apparel, Scotch, and Skype all use it, in various weights and styles, along with tons of others.
Believe it or not, the original name for Helvetica was Neue Haas-Grotesk. Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? The “Grotesk” part of the name harkens back to when the font was created, the design being referred to as “neo-grotesque”. Still, we’re glad they changed it.
Classic PowerPoint Font #5.) Rockwell
This one is a bit different, but that’s why we like it! It’s bold and confident, great for attention-getting headlines and accents – basically anything that could use a little emphasis.
The reason this is so bold is because of the weight of the strokes – notice how they’re roughly the same width across the whole letter? It gives it a heavy and powerful feel, but uses serifs to ground it a bit. It’s actually quite similar to Futura, which we talked about first – a geometric “slab” style font. It’s actually more perfectly geometric than Futura, consisting only of perfect circles, lines, and angles, which makes it feel a bit blockier. It’s also heavier than Futura and with added serifs, though, gives it more bulk (and attitude), which we love.
While our advice is usually to play around with fonts in different ways, like headers, sub headers, body text, etc., this is one that we wouldn’t recommend that with. Heavier fonts generally don’t read well for larger blocks of text, and this is no exception. It’s super versatile for headers and emphases, but clunky and difficult to read for more than that.
In essence, Rockwell thrives when it’s the center of attention!
It’s a popular choice for logos as well. Malibu Rum uses it, and it gives their name a distinct look while still maintaining a beachy feel. Get creative with it!
Classic PowerPoint Font #6.) Calibri
While we do love fonts with a bit of history, modern fonts have a lot of advantages too! Calibri was released in 2007, and you may recognize it as the font that booted out Times New Roman as the default font in Microsoft Office 2007 (and Arial in PowerPoint).
It’s slightly more rounded than the classic Times New Roman at the corners and the stems, giving it a more friendly and warm feel. That’s a lot more visible when you use it at larger sizes, so it can give some visible interest to large headers. At small sizes, it’s not as obvious, which makes it perfect for increased readability.
It’s also one of the fonts in the ClearType Font Collection, which, you may have already guessed, is a group of fonts focused on being clear and easy to read. Specifically, they were designed for easy reading on LCD monitors. Fun fact: all the fonts in that group begin with “C”, as a nod to Microsoft’s ClearType text rendering system – and this is our favorite of the group!
We even use Calibri in our award winning Influencer Presentation Template that can be downloaded here.
One of the things we really like about this font is the way it looks in italics. It looks a bit like calligraphy, while still being readable. This is another one of our favorite font hacks – if you want a lot of consistency in your presentation but don’t want to put your audience to sleep, you can play with weights and styles. This is a great font to do that with – try using the italics for accents throughout the presentation, and use the regular style to keep the main text super-readable.
Just because you can’t download custom fonts doesn’t mean you should be restricted to boring ones. We created this list in the hopes that you’ll still be inspired by the possibilities while staying within the standard fonts available in PowerPoint.
So, that’s our list! We tried to include a good range of fonts that can be used for a lot of different styles, personalities, and topics of presentations. We hope you find something you like, whether you’re presenting to board executives, venture capitalists, your team, or anything else.
We totally understand that some people are very particular about their fonts, though, and have tried-and-true favorites. Did we miss yours? We’d love to know if you have a favorite font that you always go back to, and why you love it so much! Let us know in the comments.