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. 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!

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