Why Do Fonts Change When Converted to PDF?

You are at the office, and you have to send a document as a PDF to one of your colleagues so that the formatting does not get ruined. The conversion process completes, and you open the document to check it, only to find that the font you initially used is replaced when something different. Why do fonts change when documents are converted to PDF?

Fonts change during the conversion to PDF because:

  1. The fonts you used are not available on your operating system
  2. Microsoft Office does not support the fonts you used
  3. The PDF has embedded fonts in it
  4. The PDF is sent to someone with a different operating system

Font conversion is a common issue that frustrates many users. So, read on to discover why fonts change during the PDF conversion process and what you can do to fix it.

Why Does the Font of a Document Change When It Is Turned Into a PDF?

PDF converters are a ubiquitous tool to quickly turn any document into a PDF. Unfortunately, when you download these documents to your computer, you may find the font in the document has changed. Fonts change during the PDF conversion process for one of four reasons:

1. The Fonts You Used Are Not Available On Your Computer’s Operating System

When you use PDF converting software, they have fonts that are not ordinarily available in Microsoft Word, so when you convert the file to a PDF and open it on your Windows computer, the font will be different.

2. Microsoft Word Does Not Support The Font

Sometimes a font will be listed within the font book on your computer, but Microsoft Office does not support it, so when you open the PDF in Microsoft Word, it will be different.

3. There Are Embedded Fonts In The Document

When creating a document, the author can embed fonts with their own names in them to make sure that the PDF looks the same across all devices. So if Arial is embedded and the name is changed to font 1, the computer will look for font 1 instead of Arial, so the font will change during the PDF conversion process.

4. The Users Receiving The PDFs Have Different Operating Systems

If the person you are sending the PDF to has a Mac and you have a Windows computer, the fonts may change for them because these devices do not always have the same fonts.

Now that you know why font changes happen, let’s explore what you can do to address this issue and prevent it from happening.

Ways To Prevent Font Conversion When Making a Document a PDF

You can use multiple different methods to make sure that the existing font in a document remains consistent when it is made into a PDF. This section will discuss just a few of them.

Convert the Word Document to a PDF Directly in Word

Microsoft Office 2013 and onward can save or export documents as PDFs under the File Menu. When you use this option after completing a document, the font you choose will be preserved because you are using the default font book and not relying on a third-party service to do the process for you.

This is also helpful if you want to turn an existing PDF into a Word Document.

Embed Fonts Into the Word Document

One of the reasons why fonts change during the conversion process is also used to prevent it. The process of embedding fonts can be confusing if you have never done it, and completing this process incorrectly can cause fonts to change.

To correctly embed fonts in your Word Document prior to making it a PDF, do the following:

  1. Navigate to the Options menu under the file tab
  2. Go to the Save tab in the left column
  3. Once here, find Preserve Fidelity When Sharing This Document
  4. In this tab, check off the Embed fonts in this file dialog box
  5. Click OK

As a side note, selecting the other box in this area called Embed Only Characters In This Presentation reduces the size of the file and makes it harder to edit the file with the same font. Leaving it unselected makes the file bigger but allows others to edit the document in the existing font.

If the steps above do not work, the font you chose cannot be embedded.

What Fonts Cannot Be Embedded in Word?

Embedding fonts is one of the best ways to keep fonts the same when converting a Word document to PDF, but sometimes fonts cannot be embedded. The fonts that cannot be embedded and should be avoided to skip the text change are those that are not TrueType or Type 1 fonts.

TrueType or Type 1 fonts are those that have been designed with Apple Inc TrueType technology, which is now used by Windows and Mac laptops and computers. There are separate versions of the font for each operating system, but these fonts are the highest quality and most versatile of all the font options.

The benefits of Truetype fonts are that they can be scaled to and read clearly at any size. Fonts that are not Truetype will become blurry when too large or too small. They are also easy to manage and are supported by most printers.

When a font is not Truetype, it may not be functional or may be difficult to read on Word documents and PDFs.

If You Are Sending a PDF to Someone, Check What Operating System They Have Beforehand

This prevents compatibility and font switching issues because if you know that your Word document has fonts that aren’t available on a Mac, you can make sure to address that issue before making the document into a PDF and sending it to the recipient.


The reasons why fonts change when documents are converted from Word to PDF are because certain fonts are not available on all operating systems, fonts are not supported by Microsoft Office, the PDF has embedded fonts that are not supported, and the PDF is being sent to someone with a different operating system.

The best way to avoid font conversion issues is to convert a Word document to PDF right in Word.