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Managing & Collecting Your Windows Fonts

One of the most common mistakes that designers make when submitting their files for professional printing is neglecting to include all fonts (subject to certain licensing restrictions) used in a document. Rather than picking individual fonts from any family, the entire font family should be provided since they are often needed due to a specific application's method of making font style selections (such as bold, italic, etc.). This can be a complex issue because there are often many types of fonts being used and they may be located in a number of different places on the computer or even on the network. For detailed information on fonts and font locations please refer to the Managing Your Windows Fonts section below.

Five Basic Font Tips

  1. Make certain that the fonts that you are collecting are actually the same fonts that were active in your system when the document was created. Any substitutions made for these original fonts (even if they have the same names) may result in unpredictable or unacceptable type reflow occurring.
  2. Convert type to shapes or outlines in vector applications (such as Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia FreeHand, CorelDraw, etc.) prior to saving or exporting them as EPS. However, you should always maintain a version with live fonts in the native file format (.AI, .FHx, .CDR, etc.) so that you may need to revise the text at a later date.
  3. Type in files which rarely change (such as logos) should always be converted to outlines.
  4. Limit the use of live (active) fonts in placed image files. If you are using live type layers in Photoshop PSD or EPS files it is very important that you keep track of exactly what fonts are being used in these files. If these fonts do not appear in the font list that is compiled by your page layout application, then these fonts will need to be supplied as well.
  5. No matter whether you prefer the Macintosh or Windows operating systems it is always a good idea to keep a separate master font folder on your hard drive or file server that contains original working copies of every font on your system. This master font folder should be entirely separate from the system font folder(s).
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Using Applications to Collect Your Fonts

Different applications offer different solutions to this problem. Some are more effective than others. The tools provided with QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign are excellent for determining the fonts that are being used in their documents. However, they are not always 100% reliable when reporting the font usage of certain placed image files (such as .EPS, .PSD, etc.), particularly if font style selections (such as bold, italic, etc.) were used.

It is not safe to rely entirely on these collected font files to be complete. You should always examine the results and add any font files or families that are either incomplete or missing altogether. In the end however, the most effective tool is your own font management techniques. It is a very good idea to always be aware of all fonts used in your document so that you may double-check your files prior to sending them to your printer.

For specific information about using your application to collect your fonts please see the Application Tips & Tricks section below.

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Managing Your Windows Fonts

Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows 98 keep their fonts in the Windows (or WINNT on some systems) Font folder. Fonts are generally added or removed by using those add/remove functions in the Fonts Control Panel. Those who may be still using Adobe Type Manager (ATM) Lite or Deluxe generally use those applications to add or remove fonts. Windows 98 users must use ATM to manage Postscript fonts.

Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Vista all have native support for Postscript Type 1 fonts as well as TrueType and OpenType fonts. These operating systems use the Fonts Control Panel to manage fonts. The Fonts Control panel provides only limited functionality.

You can see a list of installed fonts in Microsoft Windows by going to the Control Panel and choosing Fonts. You can view a list of installed fonts, preview fonts, and add and remove fonts. When installing new fonts is possible (and advisable) to instruct Windows to leave these new fonts in their current original locations by deselecting the box marked Copy fonts to Fonts Folder. To preview a font, simply double-click it, and a new window will open showing samples of the font in various sizes. Clicking on the Properties button will show you more information about the font, including its name, author, version, and licensing information.

In Windows Vista accessing the Fonts section is slightly different. Go to the Control Panel and type Font into the Search box to immediately get a link to the Fonts folder, with sub-links such as Install or remove a font and View installed fonts. To install a new font, right-click the Fonts folder and choose Install new font from the shortcut menu. You can also choose Classic view and then click on the Fonts icon to manage your fonts as in Windows XP.

Windoows Font Managers

There are a number of third-party font managers available that offer greater flexibility and ease of use. Some of the best known of these are:

Windows fonts may also have a variety of file extensions such as: .ttf (TrueType or TrueType-based Opentype), .otf (Postscript-based OpenType), .pfm ( PostscriptType 1 font metrics), or .pfb (Postscript Type 1 font outline). It is absolutely necessary that both parts of a Postscript Type 1 font (two files with identical names except for the extension i.e. [file name].pfm and [file name].pfb) be supplied for a font to print. There will also be a pair of these font files for each individual font version (i.e. regular, bold, italic, etc.).

In Windows there are a number of places that your font files may be located. You may also have fonts in other locations either on your system or on your network. Fonts on your system may be found in either of two basic locations: in the Fonts folder within the Windows system folder or within the PSFONTS folder (and in its PFM subfolder) which is created by ATM. Please make certain that the fonts that you are collecting are actually the fonts that were active in your system when the document was created. Any substitutions made for these original fonts (even if they have the same names) may result in unpredictable or unacceptable type reflow occurring.

Important Note: Postscript files with the pfb extension copied into the Windows Fonts folder will not show up in Windows Explorer (they are hidden). They must be located by using the Search function (try using *.pfb) on drive C. They are not hidden in the PSFONTS folder or in any other locations.

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Windows Font Locations:

The Windows system uses a single central location to store fonts. Some applications (notably Adobe) may also store fonts in other locations.

Windows System (XP, 2000, 98, etc.)

C:\Windows\Fonts or C:\WINNT\Fonts

Adobe Type Manager

C:\Psfonts and C:\Psfonts\PFM

Other Locations:

Some applications (such as those from Adobe) may also have their own font locations.These fonts are located in:

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\Fonts

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Application Tips

For more information about managing and collecting fonts and for other helpful tips on using these applications, please follow the links below.

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