Safe fonts for PDF export

Reading about safe PDF fonts, I learned there are 3 versions of the postscript spec. PostScript fonts - Wikipedia

the first version, which should in theory be the safer bet lists:

  • Courier (Regular, Oblique, Bold, Bold Oblique)
  • Helvetica (Regular, Oblique, Bold, Bold Oblique)
  • Times (Roman, Italic, Bold, Bold Italic)
  • Symbol

So I proceed to try the only regular non-fixed: Helvetica.

And right away i realize it does not exist on Windows. I have no idea how that will look when my PDF is seen on that system. I can try to export one PDF using Helvetica and look at the result on windows 10, but there are several versions of windows, with and without microsoft office installed, and there will be an infinite combination of fallback fonts.

Hence, this question: What are some realistic and pragmatic safe fonts I can use on my PDF? Are there a minimum set of fonts that are supposed to exist on all OSX, Windows, Linux, Android, IOS, from the last few (5ys?) recent versions?

(Font-embedding is out of this scope, if I am worried about safe-fonts, i am also assuming font-embedding will not have worked for the particular viewing software/printer)

Pedantic deparment: not really a LO-specific question.

Regarding your question: There are no fonts that are pre-installed on all platforms.

With some tolerance towards an answer, Microsoft Core Fonts. For better or worse, these are fonts that are pre-installed on Windows/macOS and available for download for Linux. As for the mobile platforms (and this is why I didn’t post this as an answer), you are on your own if embedding is out of the question. Otherwise, download Roboto Sans or the font of your choice from, create your PDF using the chosen SIL-licensed font and distribute as a .zip file with the .pdf and the font file…or just embed the damn thing! :grin:

One question: can you elaborate on why it is so important to use fonts available on all systems? Is the pagination critical?

Agree it’s not really LO specific. And I think No can be a perfectly acceptable answer. Not embedding fonts have two advantages: no license issues (good when working with government agencies and other legal savvy entities), and storage size when storing billions of documents. As for needing control over presentation (pagination being one of many aspects i do care about), well, that is the sole reason PDF even exists --the format have absolutely no other purpose. Finally, thanks for the comment (new user, can’t simply upvote). i’m tempted to stick with Arial which have a good-enough fallback on android/ios (and native support if seen in most browser pdf viewer).