Creating Documents that Don't Use Embedded Fonts

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 27, 2021)

Roy works for a legal firm, and he needs to file documents regularly with various clerks' offices. One particular office requires that only documents containing "non-embedded fonts" can be filed. The documents Roy files are PDFs created from Word documents, and he cannot seem to find a way to make sure that the documents contain only non-embedded fonts.

Word has a configuration setting that controls whether fonts are embedded in the document or not. If you want to make sure that a PDF file contains no embedded fonts, then try following these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or a later version display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left of the dialog box click Save. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Save options in the Word Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Embed Fonts In the File check box is cleared.
  5. Click OK to dismiss the Word Options dialog box.
  6. Press F12 to display the Save As dialog box.
  7. Using the controls in the dialog box, save the file using a name different than the original document name. (You want to save the document as an actual Word document, not in any other format.)
  8. Exit and restart Word.
  9. Load the document you saved in step 6.
  10. Create your PDF file as you normally would.

At this point, the PDF file should not contain any embedded fonts. This works because the Word file on which the PDF is based—the one you created using the Save As command in steps 5-6—does not contain any embedded fonts.

If, for some reason, the PDF does still contain embedded fonts, then it is very possible that whatever PDF creation process you are using is adding them. If you use the Save As approach, in Word, to create the PDF file, then you should not have a problem. You also should not have a problem if you use Adobe Acrobat to create your PDF file. If you are using a different method for creating the PDF file, then you will need to test that method to see if it is doing something squirrely with the fonts.

You should also check to make sure your document doesn't use any fonts may possible need to be embedded. This means you should check to make sure your document uses only "plain vanilla" Microsoft fonts, such as Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, etc. These would never be embedded with a document because Microsoft assumes they are always available. It is only other fonts—ones you may have installed on your system—that would possibly be embedded.

Finally, one drastic step you can take is to create your PDF file and then open it in a program designed to allow editing of PDFs, such as Adobe Acrobat. You can then use the capabilities of that program to save the PDF as an "image only" file. This, essentially, means that your PDF will contain nothing but pictures of each page with absolutely no font information at all.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13827) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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