How to Choose the Right Fonts for your Presentation

If you check the internet, you would discover that there are thousands of fonts available, and for valid reasons: Fonts add to your presentation’s personality by communicating a mood or emphasizing a point and this can considerably make or break your credibility. Even without you or your audience realizing it, your choice of fonts can leave a lasting impression on your presentation. So how to choose the right fonts for your presentation?

The sheer number of font options however can also leave us with several dilemmas about which specific font to use.

Intriguing questions such as:

Cool or classic fonts?

The fact that there is an overwhelming choice of fonts out there indicates that there is no single font that’s absolutely necessary for everyone. Like color, you choose the right font depending on your project or presentation, what suits your theme and what message you’d like to convey.

Different fonts portray different personalities which are appropriate in various situations. Old style serif fonts feel formal and professional while sans-serif fonts feel modern and clean.

Take for instance the following:


Calibri, Times New Roman, and Verdana are considered conservative fonts, bringing out a trustworthy and stable image which some deem to be boring.


Brush Script have a warm and feminine effect but don’t seem to inspire confidence.


Courier New and Stencil bring out a cold, unattractive yet unemotional impression.


Impact font reveals a strong, solid, masculine and forceful image.


Jokerman are exciting, innovative but quite unfamiliar to many.

Now there seems to be an ongoing debate about whether you should use fonts that appear “invisible” and not call attention to themselves so your audience can focus on the content and what you’re saying OR if you should be using fonts that spice up or at least enhance the overall presentation of your ideas.  Again, the answer should be based on what your purpose is.

The first set of fonts above is not intended to grab attention and if that’s your goal, then stick to something that’s legible, clear but sleek, smooth and consistent. Advocates of “invisible fonts” believe you shouldn’t hesitate to apply these “boring” but safer fonts because though standard looking, they have been professionally designed to serve their purpose –make your presentation appear neat and professional, far from being cluttered looking.

However, this isn’t to say you should totally avoid “cooler”, more unique fonts. You should simply use these fonts as appropriate like when emphasizing or demanding attention. But because most of these creative fonts aren’t as legible as the classic ones, you’d want to use them sparingly.

Alternatively, you can adjust the size and weight of classic fonts to create something more interesting and inspire attention.

You’d also want to consider the compatibility of different font choices you apply throughout your presentation. A classic and cool font may be appropriate for certain texts when used separately but look hideous when combined within a single slide.

Ultimately, the choice of whether to use classic or “cool” fonts should be a conscious decision depending on the image you wish to project.

Small or big fonts?

Equally important as your choice of fonts is your application of it. No matter how legible your font choice may be, it may appear unreadable to someone at the back of the room if you make it too small. Don’t be afraid to make your fonts larger. A rule of thumb many presenters use is a minimum of 30pt.

guy kawasaki

Default or custom Fonts?

Related to the classic vs. cool dilemma is the question of whether you should be using default or custom fonts. Many of the classic fonts belong to the former while some cooler fonts are obtained from the latter. Regardless of which you end up using (cool or classic), one thing is certain: you need to ensure they will look the same way whatever computer you use to present or read the slides.

Because PowerPoint has the tendency to substitute another font if it doesn’t have the exact size or style you’re using from another computer, your slides may end up misaligned or text-wrapped in inappropriate places. Result? No matter how awesome your presentation and fonts are, you end up with something messy, incomprehensible and unprofessional.

So while nobody’s pushing you to use Microsoft’s default fonts, it’s a must that you use fonts that won’t become a visual problem when presented on external computers or shared with others. If you’re unsure, you may want to save fonts as images especially if you’re only sparsely using unique fonts in your presentation although the downside is, they will no longer be editable.

custom font

Fonts can communicate powerful messages just by virtue of their designs. They not only animate or relay content, they also play a tremendously significant role in the psychology of decision making and persuasion.