Yes, you can use the fonts that come with MS Word for commercial use, but you need to have the correct license. If you don’t, you’ll need to purchase them or consider other options.
Word fonts are owned by Microsoft and are used across their products—Excel, PowerPoint, and Publisher, for example.
Interesting fact, Microsoft has published its whole font library in its documentation. It’s worth taking a look, particularly if you might need certain technical details.
On top of that, Microsoft doesn’t actually own all of its fonts. Some, like Times New Roman, outdate Microsoft and have been around since 1932, or come from ‘font foundries.’
Luckily, the licenses to these fonts are extended over to you, but if you have to buy them individually, it can get a bit confusing and a bit expensive.
What Is the Difference Between Personal and Commercial Use Fonts?
Viktor Holas, the online marketing expert at WiseBarber.com, has a lot to share on the commercial use of fonts.
Personal fonts, Holas says, “are intended for use by individuals for their own personal projects, such as making a scrapbook or creating a presentation for a school project.”
He adds that they are free to use for non-commercial purposes and can usually be downloaded for free or cheaply.
Commercial use fonts, meanwhile, “are intended for use in business or professional contexts. These fonts are usually more expensive than personal use fonts.”
Which could be things like creating a logo or other advertising materials, for example.
In the end, if you will financially gain from using the font, either as part of a product (like a book) or as part of a marketing campaign, it counts as commercial use.
Which Microsoft Fonts Are Free for Commercial Use?
As long as you’re not using a non-commercial version of Microsoft (such as Student, Personal, or Family), you can use all Microsoft—and therefore Word—fonts commercially.
The commercial versions of Microsoft are:
- Microsoft 365 Business Basic.
- Microsoft 365 Apps for business.
- Microsoft 365 Business Standard.
- Microsoft 365 Business Premium.
So, if the version of Microsoft you are using is being legally used for business purposes, you are allowed to use Microsoft fonts commercially.
If you don’t have a commercial version of Microsoft, you’ll have to buy a license to legally use the Word fonts you want.
To fully understand how Microsoft regards its fonts, it is advised that you read through their Font redistribution FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) for Windows page.
Not only does this page explain almost every use case you could imagine, but it also covers redistribution and modification, saying:
[Y]ou may not redistribute the Windows fonts. You may not copy them to other computers or servers, and you may not convert them to other formats, including bitmap formats, or modify them.”
How Do You Know if a Font Can Be Used Commercially?
As silly as it sounds, the easiest way to find out if you can use a font commercially is just to Google it. For example, ‘can arial font be used commercially free.’
But even then, things are not always 100% clear, so make sure you understand the different license types. Holas says there are three types of font licenses:
a) Free for personal use: This type of license allows you to use the font for personal projects, but not for commercial purposes.
b) Free for commercial use: This type of license allows you to use the font for any purpose, including commercial projects.
c) Paid commercial use: This type of license requires you to purchase a license to use the font for commercial purposes. The license may have additional restrictions on how the font can be used.”
At Fonts.com, you can pay to license Microsoft fonts. (This seems to be Microsoft’s preferred way of licensing their fonts.) You can also check out other services such as MyFonts.
Or Usability Geek has a list of 40 fonts that are free to use commercially—none of which are owned by Microsoft. And Canva has a further list of 50.
What Happens if You Use a Font Without a License?
If you use a font without a license, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble. It’s much wiser to steer clear of doing this.
As Holas explains, “If you use a font without a license and the copyright owner becomes aware of it, they may take legal action against you.”
You could receive a ‘cease and desist letter’ and even find yourself being sued in court. Not great for business.
What Does It Mean if a Font Is Free for Commercial Use?
As Holas says above, if a font is free for commercial use, it can be used “for any purpose” so there’s not much you can’t do with it.
You don’t need to buy a license to use fonts that are free for commercial use, which means they can be used in branding, books, digital advertising, and much more.
If you have a tight (or non-existent) budget, fonts that are clearly marked as free for commercial use are likely your best option.
But be cautious using ‘free fonts’ because they can be copied. As Ross Kimbarovsky of crowdspring says, ““free” fonts can sometimes be commercial fonts that are illegally copied.”
How Much Does a Font Cost for Commercial Use?
Licensed fonts can vary significantly in price depending on who’s offering the license, style (italics, bold, light, etc.), license type, device, and alphabet.
At MyFonts.com, just looking at Calibri will bring up the option of $24.83 per style or all font styles for $149.00.
It can get even more complicated when you consider special characters and letters from other alphabets, such as Hebrew and Cyrillic.
Some font packages can cost users thousands, and it can also depend on where you’ll use the font—desktop, web, digital Ad, or for an ebook.
Before buying a license browse around different font licensers to make sure you’re getting the best price and license type.
Can Microsoft Fonts Be Used Commercially?
Microsoft fonts can be used commercially if you use the correct licensing. Let’s break it down to its key points:
- You must be using a non-commercial version of Microsoft (not Family, Student, or Personal).
- If you’re using a non-commercial version of Word and want to use a font commercially, you will need to purchase a license from a font licensing service.
- If you can’t afford a license, it’s best to use a font that doesn’t belong to Microsoft and is ‘free for commercial use’. But make sure it’s not an illegal copy.