Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Embedding Fonts in a Document.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 26, 2018)
The fonts you use in a document determine exactly how that document appears when viewed or printed. If you are sharing your documents with others, you will want to make sure that they have the same fonts you used in the document. If they don't, then they may not be able to read the information you send.
Why is this? If you use a particular font in a document, then send that document to another person who does not have that font on their system, Word tries to figure out what font it can use as a substitute for the font you used. In some cases, the results are an unreadable mess with symbols being substituted for characters and vice-versa. Even if the substituted font results in a readable document, your precise formatting may no longer apply since Word uses the character widths and sizing of the substituted font, not the original. Thus, text will flow differently on the target system and lines or pages will not break at the same place as originally intended.
Word does provide a potential solution to this mess: you can embed fonts in a document. Word allows you to embed fonts in your document, with a couple of caveats. First of all, the fonts must be TrueType fonts, and second, they must be available for embedding. Figuring out if a font is TrueType is easy enough—you can take a look at the Windows Font folder to figure that out, or you can simply look for the telltale TT next to the font name in Word's Font drop-down list.
Figuring out if a font is embeddable is another issue. When a font is created, by the designer, it can be set to one of four levels of embedding compatibility:
Word respects the wishes of the font designer, according to the possible settings show here. If a designer marks a font as "not embeddable," then you cannot embed it in a document. More precisely, you can instruct Word to embed TrueType fonts, but Word ignores your instruction when it comes to the font that is marked as not embeddable.
So how do you find out if a font is embeddable? There is no way to do so without a special tool that will read the font, examine the instructions of the designer in this regard, and then inform you of them. Such a tool is available for free from Microsoft. This tool is for use with Windows 95 or later; you can download it from the following address:
The tool updates Windows so it displays more information when you right-click on a font file and choose Properties. One of the tabs displayed in the resulting dialog box contains information on how a font can be embedded in a Word document.
If a font is not embeddable, then you are faced with a decision: whether to use the font or not. If you do use it, then the document will only display properly on systems where the font is really installed. If you don't use it, then you will need to find a different font that meets your design and sharing needs.
Once you know that a font can be embedded in a document, you need to instruct Word to do the actual embedding. You do this by following these steps:
Figure 1. The Save tab of the Options dialog box.
You should know that when you embed a font, the size of your document can be significantly increased. If you don't choose the check box in step 4, then Word embeds the entire font. In either case (full font or just characters), the size of your document is increased by the size of the font being embedded, plus some overhead required by Word.
There is one "gottcha" when embedding fonts in a document. If you are using Word 2002, and you save your documents in RTF format instead of native DOC format, Word may not embed a font properly in the document. The solution, as described in Knowledge Base article Q275953, is to make sure that you save the document in DOC format, not RTF format.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1611) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Embedding Fonts in a Document.
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