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Installing and managing fonts

Every time you press a key on your keyboard to type a character, you are actually accessing other software—the fonts that are in your computer. It’s not enough just to copy the fonts onto your hard disk. In order to use your fonts, they need to be installed as part of your computer operating system. (See Chapter 15 for more information on working with fonts within the software.)

There are several different ways to install fonts. You can use the controls that are built into your operating system or you can use font management software.

Installing fonts using the operating system

The easy way to install fonts is to use the controls that are part of your computer’s operating system. On Windows XP and Vista, that is done by using the Fonts Control Panel. On Mac OS X it’s done by using Font Book or manually adding fonts to the Library > Fonts folders. Using the operating system controls works best for those who don’t need to open or close a lot of fonts each day. That’s the way I work. I have a few fonts that I like and use all the time. I don’t need to open and close others very often.

Using font management software

Many designers and print shops need to open a wide variety of fonts for each document they work on. Instead of using the operatiing system to install fonts, they use third-party font management software such as Extensis Suitcase Fusion or Bitstream Font Navigator. Font management has these advantages over working with the operating system:

  • Auto activation. When you open a document that uses fonts that you don’t have open, the font management software will automatically open the correct fonts—assuming you have access to them on your hard disk or network.
  • Sets. Font management software lets you organize your fonts into sets that you can assign to specific jobs, clients, or other categories. Then, when you know you’re going to work on a specific project, you can open the entire set of fonts with a single command.
  • Font diagnostics. Perhaps it’s because they hang around street corners smoking cigarettes, but font files can become corrupted. Corrupted fonts can cause problems in documents. Font management software alerts you if you’re working with a corrupted font.
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