Printips: May 2004
Fonts: Don't Let Your Documents Leave Home Without Them
Ask us or any other printer to name the top five reasons why customer-provided
document files fail preflight and you'll always have "missing or
unusable fonts" on the list. The problem is so common that we're
devoting this issue of Printlocal news to the topic.
Digital font technology
Let's start with a brief overview of digital font technology. You probably
know there are two standards for fonts: PostScript and TrueType. PostScript
was originally developed by Adobe and was engineered with two parts to
each font - a screen font for rendering characters on a computer monitor
and a printer font to direct a PostScript printer how to render the font
on paper. In the early days, PostScript fonts gained wide acceptance in
the graphic arts community because of superior resolution on output.
The TrueType font format, developed by Apple Computer and later adopted
by Microsoft, was designed with the printer font and screen font created
from the same information. The font technology also includes a rasterizer;
it is the interaction between the font and rasterizer that determines
the appearance of the font on paper. Whereas PostScript fonts required
a PostScript printer to render correctly, TrueType fonts could be used
on any printer. TrueType fonts have been more popular than PostScript
in the corporate environment.
The evolution of font technology as well as the adoption of PDF (portable
document format) file workflow has significantly reduced the conflict
between PostScript and TrueType. There remains, however, one important
rule - do not mix PostScript and TrueType in a single document.
Just like clip art, the Worldwide Web is full of free fonts. Many are
unusual and may even be desirable for a specific application. However,
we would like to insert a word of caution about using free fonts when
you are creating documents for us to print or copy.
* Restrictions on commercial use. Free fonts, like free stock photography,
are often restricted to personal use. If you are designing a brochure
for your company, this could be considered commercial use. Also please
be aware that as graphic arts professionals, we are committed to adhering
strictly to restrictions and licensing requirements.
* Legibility. To perform well in a document, a font must be legible, meaning
that it is well drawn and has restrained design features. A legible font
doesn't call attention to itself, for that would distract the reader from
comprehending the words.
* Windows-only format. The most common format for free fonts is Windows
TrueType which may introduce problems during output if we are using a
PostScript device such as our imagesetter for making press plates.
Bold face and italics are two of the most common techniques of styling
fonts. Both are used for emphasis in text. But did you know that there
is a difference between a font that has been drawn in bold or italic style
versus a font to which a computer-generated style has been added?
True-drawn italics are slanted fonts designed to accompany a roman (straight
up and down) typeface. True-drawn italics are very distinct, with different
proportions, character widths and design features. They often remind a
reader of script or calligraphy.
Here is an example of a roman type and its italic counterpart:
Italics are effective for emphasis because they draw attention without
creating a major change in the color of the text. As such, they create
Italics are also used grammatically for titles (books, films, newspapers,
periodicals); for foreign words or phrases; or for indicating a word used
as an example rather than for its meaning.
Like italics, a true-drawn bold face has different proportions, character
widths and design features. Bold face creates noticeable emphasis by providing
a contrast from light to dark in the text.
Bold face is found in captions and subheads. It may also be used to draw
attention to words or phrases. In general, bold face must be used sparingly
in text because it creates a jarring visual distinction.
Here is an example of bold face compared to its roman counterpart:
Use true-drawn fonts
For the best results in your documents, always use the true-drawn fonts.
If you are working on a Macintosh, access bold and italics from the font
menu, not the style bar. Some fonts link true-drawn italics and bold to
their roman counterparts; others do not. If fonts aren't linked, or if
true-drawn fonts aren't available, computer-generated styles will be created
on the fly. This may cause a marked difference in how the fonts are rendered
which in turn may affect line or page endings. For bold face, it may render
at a different weight than your original design.
Since bold face and italics can only be accessed through the style bar,
always be sure that the true-drawn fonts are available and loaded in your
When you want to draw attention to text while simultaneously introducing
a design element, a script font will do the job. Scripts add drama to
copy by providing contrast, variety and impact.
Scripts can be categorized as calligraphic, casual, black letter or formal.
Each category has a remarkably different look and is used in different
ways. Calligraphic scripts resemble calligraphy; casual scripts are informal
looking, as if drawn by a brush or pen. Black letter scripts are derived
from medieval forms of manuscript letter while formal scripts resemble
As powerful as scripts are, they must be used with caution, especially
in business documents. Script faces are often hard to read, which slows
reader speed and comprehension. Setting large blocks of type in script
creates visual "noise" that is undesirable.
Script faces should never be used in all capital letters. Script capitals
are designed to be used in conjunction with lower case letters and therefore
are extremely difficult to read next to each other. Scripts should also
be set in large point sizes because the height of the lower case letters
in proportion to the capital letters is small. Use a minimum of 14-point
type for any script face.
If you have questions about the most effective use of fonts for emphasis
or for using script faces to design, please give us a call. Our customer
service representatives and sales team have been trained for the task
and will be glad to advise you.
Bar: horizontal stroke of letters such as A, H, R, e and f.
Bit map: rows and columns of dots that when viewed together, create a
Bowl: a curved stroke that creates an enclosed space in a letter. The
space is then called a counter.
PostScript: Well-known example of vector font system.
PostScript Type 1 fonts: Adobe fonts encrypted with "hints"
to enable the print controller to render the letters smoothly.
PostScript Type 3 fonts: a collection of curved outlines of PostScript
Raster graphics: bitmapped graphics.
Resolution: the density of pixels. Affects how sharply an image is represented.
Expressed as dots per inch (dpi) or by the number of rows and columns
(ex: 640 x 480).
Scalable: Images or fonts that can be reduced or enlarged in size without
degradation or pixelation.
Stroke: A straight or curved line that forms a letter.
Swash: A fancy flourish replacing a terminal or serif.
Tail: The descender of a Q or short diagonal stroke of an R.
Vector graphics: also called object-oriented graphics. Images whose shape
is represented as mathematical formulas.
Q. What is the origin of the ampersand?
A. The ampersand - a character sometimes referred to as the and sign -
is the Latin symbol for the word et (meaning and in Latin) which derived
from a ligature (a combination of two letters into one continuous character)
of the letters E and T. In fact, & was considered the 27th letter
of the Latin alphabet. The word ampersand is said to be derived from the
phase and per se and.
roman ampersand italic ampersand
The ampersands shown represent the alternative forms - roman and italic.
To find the E and T, examine the ampersand closely. The left portion can
be either a lowercase e or a capital E composed of two semicircles. The
T is represented by a diagonal upstroke.
Roman style ampersands tend to be more straightforward, while italic ampersands
tend to be influenced by calligraphy.
Design of the ampersand is where typeface creators show drama and flair.
Because of this, the ampersand is often a good character to compare in
typefaces you are trying to identify.
The rules for how to use an ampersand vary from language to language.
In English text, the ampersand may be substituted for the word and and
both mixed in the same text.
Tricks & Tips
Have you ever had to match a typeface and wondered which letters to study?
Here are some characteristics to help you distinguish fonts:
* Letter Q: does the tail of the Q cross or touch the circle or is it
below and separated from the circle? Does the tail extend or lie inside
circle? Is the circle open with the tail part of same stroke?
* Figure 4: is it open or closed?
* Individual characters: do individual characters have serifs? (The best
letters to look at are H, L or T.) Do they look handwritten? If so, are
the character outlines drawn with geometric precision or do they look
as if formed by a pen or brush?
* Letter J: does the upper case J extend below the baseline?
* Letter U: does the upper case U have a stem?
* Letter P: is the shape of the P closed? Is there a gap where the bowl
meets the vertical? Does the bowl cross the vertical?
* Letter E: is the upper case E formed normally? Is it drawn as a single
stroke, either with or without a loop? Is it drawn as a C with a bar?
Is it like a lower case e?
* Letter A: is the lower case a a single- or double-storey?
* Letter L: does the L have two loops visible, an upper loop only, a lower
loop only, or no loops at all?
* Numeral 3: is the join at the top of the figure angular or rounded?
* Dot on i or j: is the shape of the dot round, square or rectangular,
a diamond, or triangular? Or is there no dot?
Characteristics from www.identifont.com
Have you ever considered designing with type? We don't mean designing
an entire font; rather, we mean using letters or characters from a font
as a design element. After all, the word logo is a shortened form of logotype,
meaning two or more type characters that are combined as a sign or trademark.
You're holding an example of designing with type in your hand. Look at
the front page. We've used an oversized capital letter to begin the first
paragraph and wrapped the text around the letter. Later, we've used an
oversized ampersand screened back behind text to create interest in our
Tricks & Tips section. These are simple yet effective ways to add
sparkle to your documents.
For more ideas on using type for design, give us a call at 877-816-4448
7 Park Avenue Suite 24
New York, NY 10016