Font Talk: What the Font is it Anyway?

By Sharyn Fitzpatrick

With all the social sharing within this community, it seems like we have a “virtual water cooler” trend going around and often that is where the best ideas and discussions happen. The “Font Talk” topic was started in a Facebook post by the Presentation Guild’s Stephy Lewis who was trying to find an app or program that could help her match or identify fonts sent to her and then automatically suggest a safe font equivalent. So, “what the font is it anyway“?

Take a recent post on Facebook by Stephy Lewis, a Presentation Guild director and a very talented creative mind, where she wanted a font matcher like the one she linked to but she wanted it to give her the closest PPT safe font. What a great idea! Is magic happening? Not likely.

Stephy’s post highlights a common problem we all face in creating designs whether it is in PowerPoint or any other product. Often, we get creative from a client or a speaker and we don’t know what font they use. It happens all the time. The good news is that there are a few apps and websites that give you the tools to figure out what the font is. But telling you that it is safe to use with PowerPoint -not happening.

So, what is the process to at least point you in the right direction? You just upload the font image you are trying to identify and it processes it, hopefully giving you the font used. I tried it with both The Font Matcherator and What’s my Font, another service suggested by one of Stephy’s contacts.

The Font Matcherator by FontSpring

The Font Matcherator has a very clear and easy interface. It is simple – first, upload an image.

I uploaded the transparent PXpert logo –

And the transparent logo on a dark background

Both came back asking me what text I wanted to match. I wanted to match each letter in “presentationxpert”.

Then you “matcherate” it. Both versions came back without the “i” included in the “matched” font. I discovered that you might have to manually adjust the shapes that the matcherator can find and it guesses the glyphs that match these shapes. So, in our example, the line without the dot above that says “I” was one option and the “.” was a second separate option. I chose the advanced option and could combine them into one letter, not two pieces. Ironically, that didn’t change the fonts that were suggested.

Let’s see what happens if we try it without combining the line and the dot that make the lower case “ i “.

First, I got different fonts for the transparent logo and the logo on black background – only two of the font families matched: Delicious Type’s Zosimo Series and Dalle by Stawix. So what happens if I manually combine the dot and the line to identify the “ i “ as a letter. This is a great option for it could influence your final selection.

The results: the lists are more similar and some of the unique fonts such as Managerica Pro and K-Line which were on one list and not the other disappear or are further down on the list. This helps you make a good choice for what font this logo might be. Let’s say you select Dalle by Stawix as the closest match. Well, that’s the bad news -open your wallet because it will cost you $299 to buy this font!

“What the Font” by My

They have a similar process to FontSprings Matcherator. They hated the “i” as well. And they added a “t”. And when I uploaded the transparent logo, it gave it a black background automatically.

And guess what, none of the fonts identified by the Matcherator are listed in the MyFonts list.

But when I clicked on each of the five font families, only three were available. The others had a message saying they were not found and when I searched, I didn’t have any luck either.

The good news is that the ones I found were under $150. The bad news – none of them was a match for the logo.

Safe Fonts for PowerPoint

This still doesn’t solve the question so what do you do. First, try and choose a font that is on the safe font list for whatever version of PowerPoint you are using. So where do you find the safe fonts?

My go-to source has been my well-used Building PowerPoint Templates: Step-by-Step with the Experts book written by two amazing women and PowerPoint MVPs, Echo Swinford and Julie Terberg. They include a list of fonts in Chapter 3, Getting Started: Set up a Theme – on page 44. It is a great book and a must have for anyone in this industry.

If you are smart enough to be a member of the Presentation Guild, Julie and Echo just posted an updated list in the Members Only area. Membership is only $99 a year and worth every penny! I am proud to say I have been a member since 2015 when it started. They have a great members’ only area with resources, outreach to the community for those tough questions, members-only webinars and events, and so much more.  Join today.  It is a great investment in YOU!

Another option is to subscribe to Indezine, an amazing publication from Microsoft MVP, Geetesh Bajaj. He is a wealth of knowledge on everything about presentations. He wrote a great article in late 2016 that includes a list of safe fonts. Click here to read it.  What I love about Geetesh is his passion for sharing his knowledge with the industry whether it is in a book, in an article, or in an app he shares with us. Bookmark his site and sign up for his free newsletter. It is a great read and full of actionable tips and tricks that will help you become a better presenter and slide designer. 

So, back to Stephy’s original conundrum, how do we identify a font we don’t know and then find a safe font to replace it? Magic? Maybe the “Aparecium” or revealing charm that Hermoine used unsuccessfully in the Harry Potter books to make invisible writing visible. Or maybe a transformation charm. One can hope. Till then, I will keep practicing with my wand, thanks to a trip to Ollivanders™ Wand Shop in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.

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