Alternatives to font embedding

What can Office for Mac users do instead of font embedding?

Since Office for Mac won’t let you embed fonts, what can you do instead?

We’ll look at the options that Office for Mac users can try when sharing a document with Office for Windows. Going the other way (Office for Windows to Mac) isn’t a problem because font embedding is available.

Chance it

You can simply send the document off and hope for the best! Office (Mac or Windows) will substitute an available font when a document wants a font that’s not available on that computer.

Generally speaking the matching is fairly close but for more unusual or decorative fonts you may end up with a ‘matching’ font that’s noticeably different from what you intended.

Office doesn’t warn you about font substitutions when it opens a document, it just does it.

To find out what substitutions have been made you have to drill down to Options | Advanced | Show document content | Font Substitution

Word - font substitution image from Alternatives to font embedding at

There you can see which fonts are in the document but not available to be displayed, ‘Missing document font’ and the font used instead, ‘Substituted font’. You can change the substituted font for display if the alternative offered by Office isn’t very good.

As long as you don’t change the formatting, you can edit the document while leaving the original font settings in place. You can see that in the font selection list where the original font name will show up even though Office isn’t displaying that font.

The ‘Convert Permanently’ button lets you switch the document entirely from the original font set in the document to one installed on the computer.

Send the font

If the font license permits, you can email/send the font file with the document.

Add a note so the receiver knows to install the font then open the document.

To find the font file on a Mac, go to the Font Book, select the font then choose File | Show in Finder. Or look in the system folder System | Library | Fonts.

Common Fonts

You can choose fonts for the document that are common to both Windows and Mac. This can get complicated depending on which exact versions of Mac, Windows and Office you’re dealing with. Both the operating systems and Office install fonts and they change a little over time.

We have a full list of the fonts common for Office 2011 for Mac and Office 2013 for Windows.

Macintosh has a useful list of ‘Windows’ fonts in the Font Book in a collection called ‘Windows Office collection’

Macintosh - Font Book - Windows Office compatible image from Alternatives to font embedding at

Happily the concept of font collections (alas, unknown in Windows) extends into Office for Mac. At the top of the font selection list in Office for Mac, choose Font Collections | Windows Office Compatible to see the fonts common to both Office for Mac and Office for Windows.

Office for Mac - Windows Office font collection image from Alternatives to font embedding at

In Office for Mac, choose from those common fonts and Office for Windows will have no trouble opening the document.

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