About theme fonts

Setting up the theme fonts in PowerPoint is probably the most important thing you can do when creating a PowerPoint template. It is the number one most important thing. I cannot stress this enough.

You should set up your theme fonts before you start building the template. Don’t use a non-theme font and think you’ll change it later, because you’re just asking for problems. Do it first thing. Do it now.

It’s easy to create your own custom theme font sets in PowerPoint on Windows, but it’s practically impossible to do in PowerPoint on Mac.


Here’s the quick skinny on fonts:

  1. Do not use Adobe fonts.
  2. When downloading and installing Google fonts, be sure to install the “static” fonts, not the variable fonts. PowerPoint doesn’t handle variable fonts well. (See What’s so special about the Bahnschrift font? – Office Watch ( for info about creating PDFs with variable fonts.)
  3. Modern versions of PowerPoint (PPT 2019 onward) will recognize that you’re using a Microsoft Cloud font or one of the more popular Google fonts (Lato, Roboto, Open Sans, Poppins, Montserrat, etc.). As long as the file recipient has an internet connection, PowerPoint will download the font and cache it in the bowels of the user’s system so they won’t need an internet connection the next time.
    • This background download works well! But occasionally on that first open, it may take a minute for the font to appear properly. Restarting PowerPoint usually helps here.
    • If the file is downloaded or opened from email and an “enable content” message appears, you’ll have to enable content in order for the font to be downloaded. If you don’t, then the font will be substituted.
    • If you’re presenting at a conference, don’t count on the show computers to have internet access to download the font. (In that specific case, you may want to embed the fonts.)
    • Be sure to test on various devices and platforms — Windows and Mac desktops, browser, SharePoint, Teams, Box, Dropbox, phone, iPad, etc.
  4. I don’t recommend embedding fonts if you can avoid it
    • PowerPoint font embedding is all or nothing — every font will be embedded
    • This can impact file size — sometimes not much, but sometimes it adds many MB
    • Content copied in from other apps will often have weird fonts attached; they hide in the speaker notes, in the spaces between words, in invisible text levels and formatting, and a million other places, so they can be difficult to locate
    •  Not all fonts can be embedded. This will result in a message about unembeddable fonts when a user tries to save the file — and again, there will be no indication of where the font is actually located
    • I highly recommend Slidewise PowerPoint Add-in / Plugin ( for locating and resolving stray fonts — otherwise you’ll be stuck manually searching and editing the XML
      • Don’t worry too much about finding Arial in the file. The basic round bullet characters are Arial, so that’s often where it comes from, and Arial is available everywhere so you shouldn’t have any surprises with it. The open round bullets are Calibri (Office 2013 – 2023) or Courier New (as of 2023/2024 in the new template that uses Aptos as its default font), Most of the others in the standard bullet gallery (the square, that weird ugly triangle-chevron thing, etc.) are Wingdings.

On Windows

On Windows, here’s how you create custom theme font sets:

  1. Open PowerPoint
  2. Go to View > Slide Master
  3. Click the Fonts button, then Customize Fonts at the bottom of the list
  4. Select a heading font and a body font
  5. Give the theme font set a name
  6. Click Save
  7. The font theme will automatically be applied to your presentation

Incidentally, when you create the theme font set, a font XML file will also be saved on your computer. It does not need to be added to anyone else’s computer because the font theme has been applied to the PowerPoint file and lives inside it, if you will. It’s just there on your computer in case you want to use it again in another file or in case you want to send it to someone who can’t create their own custom theme font sets … for example, to your designer friend who’s on a Mac!

On Windows, that custom theme font XML file is located here: C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\Document Themes\Theme Fonts. It will be named [fontthemename].XML

Theme fonts list with custom theme fonts (top), stock theme fonts (middle), and customize fonts button (bottom) noted.

On Mac

If you’re a Mac user, you have a few options.

Create and apply a font theme on Windows.
One option is to get on a Windows computer and follow the instructions above to create a new theme font set.
When you click Save in the Create New Theme Fonts dialog, the new theme fonts will be applied to the PowerPoint file. Save the PowerPoint file. Open the PowerPoint file on Mac and proceed as usual.

Create a font theme on Windows and move it to your Mac.
Create a custom font theme on Windows.
Copy the [fontthemename].XML file from this folder on the Windows machine:
C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\Document Themes\Theme Fonts
into this folder on your Mac system:
~Library/Group Containers/UBF8T348G9.Office/User Content/Themes/Theme Fonts

Download the files here

Below you will find both POTX files with the custom font theme set already applied and the font theme XML files themselves.

Download POTX files, and you don’t need to download or apply the font theme — it’s already there in the PowerPoint template file.

Download font themes XML files.
You will need to place [customfonthemename].XML into
C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\Document Themes\Theme Fonts (Windows) or
~Library/Group Containers/UBF8T348G9.Office/User Content/Themes/Theme Fonts folder (Mac)
and then apply the custom font theme to your own files.

Once applied, the font theme is part of the PowerPoint file; there is no need to add the XML file separately to a user’s system.