I had a user complain a font was missing she liked. She told me was called "system". Looked in several windows computers font lists (both 7 and 10), and there is no font called "system".

But in playing around, I noticed in both Word and Libreoffice, if you type in the word system in the font selection box, you get a font called "system". What is this font and where is it really coming from? Both "Microsoft Sans Serif" and "Arial" are very close fonts, but neither is a perfect match for "system". Font identifications sites Fontspring Matcherator and Identifont both failed to ID it.

Picture of "system":

enter image description here

  • Can you upload an image where the font is larger? It's hard to see the nuances of the letterforms on a smaller specimen such as this. Also, is your "user" from the question running on Windows? Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 19:29
  • Bigger picture uploaded. I also added more characters. You should be able to see it by, in Windows, opening Libreoffice, or Word, and typing system in the font selection box. Commented Jun 5, 2018 at 20:07
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    At the larger size I'm getting Arial as your answer. I might also add that on my computer (a mac), System is using a different font from your example. My guess is that "system" isn't a font, but rather a shortcut to choosing the computer's set default system font - in this case it would appear to be set to Arial. Commented Jun 5, 2018 at 20:24
  • In Libreoffice, the lower case e's look different, but when I took a screenshot and moved around layers in GIMP trying to prove you wrong, it appears they match exactly. I agree, arial. You guess as to what system is seems correct as well. Thank you. Commented Jun 5, 2018 at 21:20
  • Happy to help, this was a fun investigation...had me stumped for a while. I'll move my comment to an answer. Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 12:49

3 Answers 3


Wikipedia supplies some information about the System typeface. It seems to be a raster (pixel) version of MS Sans Serif, which is used by Windows.

It should be located in your \Windows\Fonts folder (I am using Windows 10):

The font is listed as System Bold, but the file itself is called vgasys.fon. I believe .fon files is only supported by Microsoft Windows.

For me this font is not really an option for graphic design because it so closely associated with Microsoft Windows.

  • I do have a font file like you show, but that font (System Bold) doesn't match what I get in Word, LibreOffice, and, for her, MS Project. I found the same Wikipedia article, which is why I mentioned I tried MS Sans Serif. No match there either. Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 17:16

After seeing this font specimen at a larger size, I'm getting Arial as your answer. I might also add that on my computer (a Mac), System is using a completely different font from your example:

System on my computer

enter image description here

Here's an interesting piece of info I found on the vgasys.fon file that Wolff posted:

A FON file is a Windows 3.x font library file referenced by programs that access system fonts.

Source: File Info - .FON File Format

System isn't a specific font, but rather an old Windows remnant; a shortcut in the font menu options to choosing the computer's set default system font - in this case it would appear your system font is set to (or the font file that vgasys.fon is recognizing) is Arial.


I found the answer. This is font substitution at work and is the work of the program, not the operating system. There is nothing special about the name "system" other than I have no font with that name. I can type in "xyz" as the font name in the font selection box and get the exact same behavior.

You can also see this behavior (which is how I solved this) if you create a document using a font on one system, then open that document on another system lacking that font and if you fail to embed the font in the document.

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