Sometimes we struggle to find things and get frustrated when they don’t appear, whether it’s locating your house keys, finding Wally in a sea of Wally impostors or hunting down the partner to that lone sock at the bottom of the washing basket. Or maybe it’s replacing fonts that PowerPoint says are present in your file, but you just can’t find and your childhood Wally searching skills are letting you down. Well, this post can help you with PowerPoint, but you’ll have to find the sock yourself, sorry!

You may already know how to replace fonts in PowerPoint using the Replace Fonts button. You can find it in the Editing options under the Home tab. Clicking Replace Fonts brings up two dropdown menus, the first of which includes all the fonts used in your deck. The second allows you to replace any of those fonts with another font.

PowerPoint replace fonts location screenshot

Replacing PowerPoint fonts in this way usually works. However, the tool’s ability to search inside a PowerPoint file is somewhat limited. We have witnessed some instances where PowerPoint doesn’t make the alteration and the font you wanted to replace still appears in the first drop-down menu – this means it’s hidden in your deck somewhere.

Replace fonts dropdown menu screenshot

Why is this a problem? Well, it can become an issue in multiple ways. Warning messages might appear when you send the file to people who don’t have that particular font installed and trying to embed fonts in the file can pose an issue too. This can be caused by double-byte/non-western fonts being present in the presentation, PowerPoint will not let you replace a double-byte font with a standard singe-byte font but finding them by eye and replacing them isn’t always an option.

You can solve this issue by doing the following:

Let’s say we have the fonts Arial, Calibri and Avenir currently in the font list. We’ve tried to replace them and just keep Arial, but it didn’t work. What next?

  • Open the PowerPoint file that has the font issue and save it as a PowerPoint XML presentation (*.xml)

PowerPoint file saving options

  • Close PowerPoint, locate the PowerPoint XML file and open it using a text editor (I used Microsoft Notepad – it looks a bit scary but don’t worry!)

OPen PPT file with Notepad screenshot

  • When the file is open in Notepad locate the Replace option (found under the Edit tab)
  • Add ‘Calibri’ to the Find what: option and ‘Arial’ to the Replace with: option and choose Replace All

Replace fonts in notepad screenshot

  • Do the same for any other fonts that you don’t want in the document, here we follow the same steps for Avenir
  • Then save the Notepad file (*xml) and close
  • Locate the (*xml) file and open it in PowerPoint
  • Save file back out as a (*pptx)

Like a (slightly complicated) wave of a wand, when you open the file again those pesky fonts should have disappeared from the Replace Fonts dropdown menu, removing this potential font issue
from your file.

Just a few further notes on this PowerPoint fonts problem:

  • As stated, you aren’t able to replace double-byte fonts with single-byte fonts using the Replace Fonts tool but you can unintentionally do this using the method above, so be sure you know which fonts you are replacing.
  • If you use the search/replace for font names within your presentation you will also replace font names that happen to be within your presentation’s text, so keep an eye out for this.
  • It’s worth checking your fonts list whenever you choose to embed fonts to ensure you’re not saving files you didn’t know were in the presentation. This could help prevent issues further down the line.

Phew! Fonts found.

If this is a problem you’re battling day after day, then it might be worth investing in a more robust solution. Check out our review of Slidewise. This tool lets you view all fonts in your file, jump to their location and remove or replace them. All within PowerPoint!

You can put down your magnifying glass now, call off the search and use your time more wisely by reading our blog post on the best fonts to use in PowerPoint, or going and looking for that sock!

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Written by

Lucy Wyatt

Senior design consultant

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  1. Image of Susan Susan says:

    Thank you so much! It works beautifully! Bookmarking this article for future reference.

  2. Image of Niklas Niklas says:

    You are awesome! This saved me so much work!

  3. Image of David Boyd David Boyd says:

    Sorry, but the statement “This can be caused by double-byte/non-western fonts being present in the presentation, PowerPoint will not let you replace a double-byte font with a standard singe-byte font…” is abracadabra to me. What is all that?

  4. Image of Lucy Wyatt Lucy Wyatt says:

    Single-byte fonts are encoded using one byte per character and can support up to 256 characters (but can not exceed). English language, for example, only has 26 characters in its alphabet, plus numbers, plus punctuation and various special characters. The total number of English characters fits into a table that only requires one byte of data to represent each character.

    Then if you then consider languages like Chinese, Japanese and Korean, these languages have thousands of characters which can’t fit into a table represented by a single byte (this would exceed the 256 character limit). So these fonts are encoded with two bytes (double-byte fonts), which can support up to 65,535 characters.

    The problem faced by PowerPoint is that it can’t replace a double-byte font with a single-byte font as the two character tables are different sizes.

  5. Image of Timothy Timothy says:

    Brilliant hack, thanks!

  6. Image of James James says:

    I’ve been trying to fix this issue for years, thank god for this article, you’re a legend!

  7. Image of Eugene Phua Eugene Phua says:

    wonderful, especially the XML bit. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Image of will springgate will springgate says:

    any idea why I can’t save the file as *.xml in powerpoint for mac? Not showing as an available file type…

  9. Image of Jamie Garroch Jamie Garroch says:

    Hi springgate and thanks for a great question. Mac doesn’t support the creation of presentations with the XML extension in either it’s Save As or Export features. On Mac you have a couple of options. You can either use a VM (Virtual Machine) such as Parallels and save from Windows or if you don’t run a VM you can get the to XML of the presentation even while it’s in its PPTX format. If you save your file as .pptx and then change it to .zip you’ll be able to use your preferred archive utility to unzip the raw XML of the entire presentation to a new folder. From there, you can use a text editor to perform the same search and replace before zipping up the archive and changing the extension back to pptx. It’s a bit more tricky and prone to breaking the file so make sure you create a backup first.

  10. Image of Brett Cranston Brett Cranston says:

    This is so helpful! Thx a ton!

  11. Image of Sarah Hampton Sarah Hampton says:

    OMG, THANK YOU! This was bothering me so much. Perfect fix.

  12. Image of Ant Ant says:

    What an indictment of MS Office, that you need to manually edit an XML file (as I did) just to find and remove fonts! Thank you for the advice – I would have spent hours trying to figure that out for myself.

  13. Image of Jim Jim says:

    Thank you!

  14. Image of PP PP says:

    This is amazing!! What a life saver. Turns out XML is really the key (also helpful for removing custom colors). Thank you so much!!!

  15. Image of Basilios Basilios says:

    Game Changer! will use this little hack again. Thank Lucy.

  16. Image of Ashish Tekwani Ashish Tekwani says:

    Thank you so much man! This really saved me!

  17. Image of Toby Hone Toby Hone says:

    That was awesome – I have scoured the internet for ages to find the solution, this is the only thing that solved the problem Thanks!

  18. Image of Stefan Stefan says:

    Very, very helpful.
    Btw to avoid replacing a font name that is part of the regular text, search and replace the font name with quotation marks—provided that’s not part of the text.

  19. Image of Salmaan Salmaan says:

    Brilliant, thank you so much!!!

  20. Image of Laura Barber Laura Barber says:

    This has been driving me mad for years – I spend all my time in PPT, and fonts are shared and embedded, renamed on macs, etc – it’s a nightmare. Thanks so much for the simple fix!

  21. Image of Sarah Sarah says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH! Thought I was faced with having to recreate 3 particularly complicated templates!

  22. Image of Andreas Andreas says:

    This problem bugged me since a long time, now it’s solved.
    Thank you very much, this really helped – unlike the “help” you get from microsoft…

  23. Image of Tom L Tom L says:

    Great tip on the XML workaround! It was so frustrating to get that “General Failure” message every time I saved the file. Now working perfectly 🙂

  24. Image of Rachelle G Rachelle G says:


  25. Image of Tushar Tushar says:

    Thank you! This article was very helpful. Saved me a lot of trouble.

  26. Image of Ceitinn Ceitinn says:

    You are a life saver! Thanks!

  27. Image of Dave Dave says:

    Flippin’ Brilliant – thanks

  28. Image of Ram Ram says:

    Awesome, Worked like a charm!

  29. Image of Kathleen Reisler Kathleen Reisler says:

    I got the same cannot be saved message when I tried to save it as XML. Any other way around this problem? I tried to Open the PowerPoint file with Notepad and perform your steps but to no avail.

  30. Image of Anita Anita says:

    This is awesome! So glad I found your page. I was able to resolve the font issue but not the font size. I am unable to change the font size.

  31. Image of Moira Dunne Moira Dunne says:

    Amazing! This has driven me crazy for years. Thanks so much for this time-saving tip Lucy.

  32. Image of Ejkej Ejkej says:

    Wow, thank you!

  33. Image of John Racela II John Racela II says:

    when I do this and try to save the .XML back as a .ppt I get the same error with the new font type except it make the font name plural (ie adds an ‘s’), when I do a search in notepad, the font is named correctly. any suggestions? I am using Office 365.

  34. Image of Matthew Matthew says:

    omg thank you… now we just need something similar for languages so as spell checking is useful again.

    • Image of Joby Blume Joby Blume says:

      Matthew our free BrightSlide add-in has a function (Review > Presentation Language) where you can set the language for an entire presentation, which ought to catch/fix random elements in different languages.

  35. Image of Sowmya Sowmya says:

    Thank you so much, i was facing this issue since long time and saving as XML and replacing the invalid font tip was very useful . Thank you

  36. Image of Jan Jan says:

    Thank you! Is there any option to replace a font in the entire presentation for a specific character. Let’s say, I would like to change font only for dots in the deck but I would like to keep the rest in the original font. Any idea please?
    Thank you so much!

  37. Image of Faith Faith says:

    I was so hopeful with these steps, but I am unable to open back up the XML file in PowerPoint after having made the font changes in Notepad. I’m on a Windows computer, and using Office 365. My only options are to open the file in Internet Explorer (still opens in text formatting), back in Notepad, or WordPad. What am I missing here??

  38. Image of Greg Greg says:

    Thank you this is super useful. I have been struggling with this for a while!
    @Faith, you can try the following: put a shortcut to Ppt on your desktop, and then right click on your XML file, “Open with”, and go fetch your PowerPoint shortcut. It worked for me.
    Thank you!

  39. Image of Marek Marek says:

    Thank you this is super useful.

  40. Image of Mike Mike says:

    Thank you, so much! This is really helpful!

  41. Image of Li Shan Li Shan says:

    Thank you! I first discovered there was such issue and tried the first approach, when I dig deeper in Google search, I found this solution and it helped!

  42. Image of Michael Smith Michael Smith says:

    Thank you. Finally a great solution to this nagging powerpoint problem.

  43. Image of Joe Joe says:

    You are a life saver. Thank you and God bless.

    P.S. Microsoft smells.

  44. Image of Andrej Andrej says:

    Very nice, very helpful!

  45. Image of Aram Aram says:

    This only works on Windows. It’s impossible to save to PowerPoint XML on Mac side. Instead, you will have to change the extension to zip, unzip the pptx file, make changes to the slideMaster1.xml and then zip the file back (not the top-level folder, but its actual content). PowerPoint will complain that the file needs to be fixed (post probably it keeps some kind of a checksum), but it will fix the file and all will work as intended.

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