We all have a pretty good idea of the fonts that we do and do not have installed on our computers, but what is going on when you receive a Microsoft Word document that ‘displays’ a font you know is not installed on your computer? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post helps clear things up for a confused reader.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

The Question

SuperUser reader Rakesh Shewale wants to know how he can see a font displayed in a Microsoft Word document even though it is not installed on his computer:

I do not have the Seravek font installed on my computer, but my client sent a Microsoft Word document with the text set up using this font. When I select the text, it shows the ‘correct’ font name (Seravek).

I have looked in C:\Windows\Fonts and in C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\, but I cannot find a corresponding font file (seravek.ttf) anywhere.

Can anyone help me understand how can I still see the font even though it is not installed on my computer?

How can a person see a font displayed in a Microsoft Word document even though it is not installed on their computer?

The Answer

SuperUser contributor Andi Mohr has the answer for us:

If somebody sends you a Microsoft Word document using a font that is not installed on your computer and they do not embed it in the document, then Microsoft Word will replace the font you do not have (Seravek in your case) with a default font you do have installed (possibly Calibri, Arial, or Times New Roman depending on your setup).

Still, when you select the text and look at the name of the font being displayed, Microsoft Word will still say Seravek, the name of the font you do not have.

Your options are:

  1. Try and install the font yourself (Seravek requires a license unfortunately).
  2. Ask the person sending the file to embed the font in the Word document.
  3. Ask the person to save the file as a static PDF file which will embed the fonts automatically, but you will not be able to edit it in that format.

Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Akemi Iwaya
Akemi Iwaya has been part of the How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media team since 2009. She has previously written under the pen name "Asian Angel" and was a Lifehacker intern before joining How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media. She has been quoted as an authoritative source by ZDNet Worldwide.
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