| Thomas Detrie | detrie@detrie.asu.edu | Rev 15 Feb 99 |

Font Fundamentals

Copyright 1995-1999 Thomas Detrie. All rights reserved.

Digital Fonts
This section concerns electronic prepress document preparation with PostScript Type 1 fonts used on the Apple Macintosh.

Font Formats
PostScript is the programming language developed by Adobe Systems to define shapes in outline with lines and curves called Bezier curves. PostScript fonts are outline fonts, and the characters have no specific size. A PostScript output device renders the characters in specific sizes as designated. Because outline fonts are mathematical formulas they require less memory than bitmap-font data. Outline fonts retain smooth contours when slanted, rotated, or scaled to any size.

Font components
Two components comprise PostScript typefaces, a screen-font suitcase file and PostScript printer typeface files. Together these components make a type family. The Macintosh computer uses screen-font data and printer typeface software to display and print fonts. The two files are necessary because the technology used to create an image on the video screen is different from the technology used to reproduce that image on film or paper. The screen font is a low resolution screen pixel, or picture element representation of the printer typeface. While this is suitable for the screen, the limited digital information of a screen font prevents high resolution output.

The screen-font suitcase file contains a set of screen font sizes and styles. The usual sizes are: nine-point, ten-point, twelve-point, fourteen-point, eighteen-point, and twenty-four-point. Display fonts come in larger sizes. The usual style variations are: Roman, Italic, Bold, and Bold Italic. Some font packages include additional variety in weights and widths. The printer typefaces, are the actual PostScript files. A PostScript file defines for the output device the shape of the letters through anchor points, control points, and Bezier curve outlines. Every typeface requires a separate printer file.

One component will not function without the other. A monitor can display screen fonts, but PostScript equipment cannot print screen fonts. PostScript equipment can output printer typefaces, but a monitor cannot display printer typefaces. The two files require proper location and coupling.

TrueType Fonts
Apple TrueType is outline font technology introduced with System 7. TrueType font technology combines the screen fonts and the printer typeface into one file. TrueType font files do not have specific sizes.

Despite the expertise of developers, TrueType fonts do not always print well on PostScript output equipment. TrueType technology is different from PostScript technology, and a PostScript printer must interpret a TrueType font or substitute a PostScript font. This complicates and slows processing.

CREF II cautions, 'Do not mix TrueType and PostScript typefaces in the same document. Sections of type may print as bitmaps or not at all. TrueType may also cause longer Raster Image Processor (RIP) times. Run a test with your supplier to ensure that their RIP can efficiently process your TrueType font.' CREF II adds, 'Occasionally, two fonts with the same name appear in the font menu. A PostScript and a TrueType font may have the same names for instance, but their metrics will be different.' Font metrics are the size and spacing limits of a font. CREF continues, 'Not only can this create type ID conflicts, but if the type does print, it may reflow and cause different line breaks.'

TrueType fonts can have benefits in a mixed computer platform and mixed laser printer environment, but most prepress suppliers use PostScript typefaces as a standard, and may have only a few TrueType fonts. Inform your supplier in advance if you plan to submit a TrueType document.

Multiple Master Fonts
The standard digital roman type family has had traditional limits for style variation, the attributes of weight and width. Since 1989, Adobe Systems has developed technology called multiple master. Multiple master provides one or more axis for almost unlimited variations of typeface attributes. The master designs determine the dynamic range for each axis in a typeface, and PostScript technology enables on-demand interpolation for the generation of intermediate variations between the master designs.

Fred Brady is the Manager of New Typographic Development at Adobe and a member of the Adobe Originals design team. At a seminar about typeface development, he explained that the dynamic range of a multiple master typeface with two axes, weight and width, covers any permutation from light condensed through bold condensed. Multiple master primary fonts usually include a roman and an italic in three weights: regular, semi-bold, bold, and function like any other typeface. Full capability requires the application of Font Creator. Font Creator enables the generation of variation instances and the use of those instances within an application. For each axis there is a control slide for visual adjustment (figure 1). Number entry enables precise location. In the future, applications will take direct advantage of this capability without the need for a separate application. A full range of instances displays interesting changes in font characteristics. It appears to be many different typefaces, but still unified.

Font Utilization
A productivity analysis of electronic prepress jobs would indicate that problems often occur in the utilization of fonts.

Dot Lestar spoke at an EPUG seminar about why we do have problems with fonts and what we can do to minimize those problems. Dot was a technology specialist at Heritage Graphics in Phoenix. Her job there was to assure that production runs smoothly from a technology standpoint.

Font Omission
A common problem in printing is font omission, that is, missing fonts, missing font components, and pseudo fonts. Dot used this example. 'Apple installed a calligraphy typeface called Zapf Chancery into the Macintosh. People occasionally design with it and one of the things they like to do is to make Zapf Chancery bold and italic. On every page processing program tool bar there are style buttons, marked B or I. So, you click one or both and create Zapf Chancery Bold Italic. This makes my life miserable. If you print it out on your laser printer, especially if you have a non-postscript laser printer, it will print, but Zapf Chancery Bold Italic does not exist. It is a figment of your computer's imagination, and when you go to your PostScript output device it is going to say, "Hey, I don't see any Zapf Chancery Bold Italic. Well, what should I do? I have Courier and Courier is my favorite typeface." Courier is the printer's favorite typeface. "There is plain Zapf Chancery so I could print that." However, Zapf Chancery will not print in bold, or italic, because they do not exist. Digital type comes as a set of fonts. These are the only fonts that will print on a PostScript printer (figure 2), which is the destination of your document if you are going to output film and go to press. This is an important issue with fonts. You have to have the font and the printer has to have the font.'

Font Conflict
Digital type publishers all do essentially the same kind of work and their lists of typeface standards are essentially the same. If you decide to buy a standard font, you can choose from versions of the same font from Adobe, Agfa, Apple, Bitstream, Microsoft, Monotype, and several other publishers. Standard fonts from different publishers are similar but not identical. Computers do not distinguish fonts with the same name from different publishers as identical, and cannot always distinguish the difference or always substitute one publisher for another. It is best to avoid mixing publishers within the same typeface family. Dot Lestar says, 'I try not to mix publishers within a typeface family. If I start out buying Garamond from one publisher I am going to buy all of my Garamond from that publisher. I frequently get documents from customers in which they have used different publishers for the same font within one document. From a printing standpoint that becomes a nightmare. The output devices become confused as to which one to use because they are switching back and forth. It becomes very complicated and slows progress on that job.'

Personal Fonts
Dot also expressed her viewpoint on self-designed fonts or altered, custom fonts. 'As pointed out in the seminar today, anybody can design type - but you shouldn't. If you are going to design type, spend the time to learn how to do it properly. If you use a dedicated font design application properly you should not have trouble with personal fonts. Remember to send your personal and custom fonts to your output supplier. There is no way they would have access to them otherwise. Another note about designing personal fonts is never to give a font that you design the same name as an existing font. Do not design your own Garamond. If you are going to call it Garamond, call it Bob's Garamond so that we can tell it apart from Adobe Garamond and Agfa Garamond or another Garamond.'

Font Management
Along with the acquisition of fonts, it is advisable to develop an internal filing system on your hard disc drive. A good filing system makes it easier to collect and send the fonts associated with a document, or to reconstruct a document if problems occur. A good filing system will help prevent mistakes caused by using the wrong font, mixing font types, or mixing typeface publishers.

As a rule, Dot Lestar does not store fonts in the system folder. Dot says, 'System 7 uses a font folder in the system folder which is supposed to make life easier, but it does not. One of the reasons is that you constantly have to go back to the system folder to add and subtract fonts. Another reason is that every font added to your system takes up Random Access Memory (RAM).' Random Access Memory is the short-term memory the computer uses to store information in process, compared to storage memory or Read Only Memory (ROM). More active fonts mean more RAM used for fonts and the less RAM available for applications. 'Do not keep all the fonts available active simultaneously, especially with a large font library.' This encumbers RAM unnecessarily. Dot recommends that customers create a separate font folder, inside the system font folder, and file each font by its name. She keeps all of her Helvetica typefaces in a folder called Helvetica, and all her Garamond typefaces in a folder called Garamond. If she has two fonts from different publishers, she has two folders, one named Adobe Garamond and one named Agfa Garamond. She can differentiate between the two and not get them confused.

Font Utilities
Font utility programs, such as Adobe Type Manager, Adobe Type Reunion, Alsoft MasterJuggler, Symantec Suitcase, and others, add convenience and productivity to font tasks, and can help reduce errors in font management.

Adobe Type Manager
Adobe Type Manager (ATM) is a system software program that creates bitmapped fonts, any size or style, from PostScript outline fonts, to make fonts on the screen look more like printed fonts. ATM interpolates any missing font sizes and helps improve fonts printed on non-PostScript output devices.

Adobe Type Reunion
Type Reunion lists the style variations of a typeface together on a pop-up menu. Normally, the application font menu displays active typefaces alphabetically by attribute, not alphabetically by name. This increases the tendency to make style variations with the typeface attribute buttons located on the application tool bar. Type Reunion unifies a type family into a list that makes it easier to select a 'true' typeface (figure 3).

The utility program Suitcase enables easier font activation or deactivation. It also enables the designation of font sets. Font sets provide a quick list of the fonts used in a job. When a supplier requests the font list for a document, that list is the same as the font set. Dot Lestar uses Suitcase sets on customer jobs at Heritage Graphics. 'First, I create a font set for your job. Then, when I stop work on your job, I turn off the fonts so we are not using up RAM. Sort of like a light switch, it works very easily.' Alsoft MasterJuggler provides similar features.

Font Reference
It is useful to create an external filing system such as an organized notebook, a font book for your fonts. Spectacular, theTypeBook, and similar applications help do this. Font books allow for convenient font identification and visual comparison. Dot Lestar says, 'I have two volumes for my serif fonts, one volume for my sans serif fonts, and one volume for my display type. It makes it easier since I work in a large group. I highly recommend type books. It also helps to keep track of how many fonts you have. When your book gets to be over three inches thick you know you have bought enough fonts and you should stop.'

Font Report
Many customers do not know exactly what fonts they used in their document. Suppliers often recommend that customers make a document report to verify the fonts used rather than to rely on recollection. A good way to find out what fonts occur in a document is to use features built into applications. Most current programs can compile a document report. QuarkXPress can create a report that indicates the fonts used, and lists the Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) files. Customers often overlook fonts used in PostScript files. Adobe Illustrator also will indicate the fonts used. Adobe PageMaker provides a font report that lists every open font on the computer and indicates the fonts used.

Another common mistake is to omit a permanently active font from a Suitcase set. Suitcase retains that font excluding it from the project-specific set.

Jobs with fewer fonts output quicker. Dot Lestar suggests, that for illustration applications and most PostScript files, convert the illustration fonts into object outlines. This technique eliminates the need for that font because it converts the fonts into 'graphics' that look like the font. Dot says that there are some minor problems with this technique, and CREF II cautions that the quality of the outlined or 'pathed' font will likely represent a degradation from the original font design. This method is good for a small number of words or an obscure font. It can, however, be bad for more than a few words or small type sizes. For example, outlining tiny type can create shapes too complex to print. Customers occasionally convert fonts to outlines or 'paths' for use in headline and logo treatments. Converting text to outline means that editing becomes more complex since the image is now a 'graphic' instead of a font. Discuss the use of the technique with your supplier.

Font License
Fonts are software and subject to strict license agreement. CREF II states. 'It is the customer's responsibility to maintain licensed versions of the fonts used at their location. It is the supplier's responsibility to maintain licensed versions of fonts at their location...Both the designer and the supplier should handle fonts in the manner as licensed by each font developer. Be specific and firm with font handling rules! Do not become the example prosecuted by the font manufacturing industry.'

Font providers have reduced prices and adjusted license agreements to enable easier compliance. According to CREF II, 'Adobe allows complete fonts, screen and printer, to be included with a digital job, as long as the service provider already has some licensed version of the typeface. Adobe permits this because different versions of the same font will create different results when printing. By sending your version, you ensure the integrity of the document.' As we all gain experience with these issues, better solutions develop.

It is good professional practice to honor font license agreements. The CREF II Guidelines advise, 'choose a service provider that buys and conscientiously manages their fonts, and other software for that matter, and for customers to do the same.'

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