Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Brian Tackles Font Management and Organization

Love fonts but hate the clutter? Brian tackles your font questions with 5 simple tips for organizing your fonts plus 4 recommendations for font management software (one is even FREE!) If you own 100 or more fonts, then this tip is for you! Let's turn it over to Brian....
Happy New Year to all of you font lovers and here is wishing you the best 2010. I hope that by now you have your “I love ScrapNfonts” blinkie so that you can show the world your passion for fun and creative fonts.

First off, I have created a NEW YEAR page of quotes, tag, and embellishments to get you started with your cards and scrapbooking projects. FREE to you, our ScrapNfonts friends. You can find the
download here.

As we start a new year, our thoughts quickly turn to cleaning up the holiday decorations, exercising more, and most importantly, how to manage our fonts. Well, I’m not going to provide tips on holiday decorations or exercising more, but I do want to provide information and tips on managing your fonts so that you will have more time to work on the holiday decorations and exercise!

Over the last few months, I have received numerous e-mails asking for help with how to manage all the fonts that you have on your computer. I also realize that crafters have tons of fonts, probably only second to me. At last count, I have over 5,000 fonts so font management is VERY important to me.

Who Needs Font Management?

Every time you load a font, it uses part of the operating system to run and therefore, gives you less application support. It also slows down the system when you get too many fonts loaded. The new Windows 7 operating system ships with around 235 fonts (most are international font sets) and most of them load each time the system is started up. So, the easy answer is, we all need to understand font management and how to utilize it better.

The operating systems (PC or MAC) will provide basis font management. Meaning they have the ability to activate or deactivate fonts at the system level. However, applications may not recognize the fonts unless you restart the application or the computer. It may provide a preview of the fonts with the font name and lastly, it should have a way to print a sample of the fonts in your collection.

This may be just what you are looking for, especially if you are only dealing with a limited number of fonts, maybe less than 100 fonts of your own. On the Mac, you will be using Font Book and on the PC you will be using the Windows control panel to load into the fonts folder. The latest Windows 7 upgrade has greatly improved the font management capabilities and may be just the solution for you. It now provides more advanced capabilities, like grouping fonts to activate for specific projects, so that they are “on” just for the project and then can be turned “off”.

The basic font management functions that you will be getting from the operating system font managers are:

• Lets you activate and deactivate your fonts
• Shows you a font preview
• Displays the font name
• Informs you when fonts are missing or have been moved
• Will have limited print capabilities

What does a more advanced Font Management system provide?

For most of us, with more than 100 fonts, we need a way to manage more efficiently the fonts in our collection. With third party font management software, you will be able to not only perform the basic functions, but you will have advanced capabilities like:

• Auto-activate fonts at the application level
• Activate and deactivate groups or sets of fonts
• Permanently or temporary activation of fonts
• Ability to organize large libraries of fonts
• Warning when fonts have become corrupt and even fix problems
• Advanced preview window displaying fonts in multiple sizes
• Print out custom font samples with text that you provide

With that being said, let me recommend a few font management programs for both the PC and Mac operating system platforms.

FontExpert 2009 (Windows 7, Vista, XP)

Beyond the basic font management features, FontExpert 2009 offers you the ability to assign keywords, categories, ratings and captions in the tags view, search for duplicates and corrupted fonts as well as examine your system for font errors.

Main features:
• Supports TrueType and OpenType fonts
• Search for fonts in the database by keywords, ratings and categories in new search view.
• The software can search your local disks, CDs or DVDs, network drives for fonts, and put all fonts to a special list for your further work.
• FontExpert automatically detects corrupted and incomplete fonts, and allows you to search for and manage duplicate fonts.
• It is easy to manage any fonts that are shown in any view of the program. You can sort, filter, preview fonts, copy, move, delete font files, activate or deactivate fonts, add or link fonts to font groups (sets).
• With the help of Detect Font Problems feature, it is easy to find errors in installed fonts and to optimize Windows by resolving typeface conflicts and by removing records about missing fonts.

Company: Proxima Software
Retail cost: $59.00

AMP Font Viewer 3.86 (Windows Vista, XP, 2000)

This program is easy-to-use and a step up from your basic font manager. For Windows 7users, you will want to use the font manager that comes with the operating system and provides more powerful management tools.

Main features:
• Supports TrueType and OpenType fonts
• Install fonts from a folder (one by one or from a list)
• Temporarily activate fonts
• Deletion of installed fonts
• List of all installed fonts with several display options
• Several options for organizing fonts in categories and managing them
• It can print a list of all or some of the installed fonts with an example of each font.

Company: AMPsoft
Retail cost: Freeware

Suitcase Fusion 2 (Windows 7, Vista, XP and Mac OS X v10.6, 10.5 and 10.4)

Suitcase Fusion is a powerful, quick font manager with a simple and an intuitive user interface. This is the font manager that I use with my collection of over 5000 fonts.

One nice feature in Suitcase Fusion is being able to collect your fonts in a structured and secure repository called the Font Vault. The Font Vault gives users much more control over their fonts, eliminating unnecessary font conflicts, duplicate font issues and providing easy access to your own font collection.

Main features:
• Supports TrueType and OpenType fonts
• Simple and easy-to-use interface
• Font Sense, the most advanced font matching technology available, that allows for a deep level of font analysis when identifying fonts for auto-activation using multiple criteria—font type, foundry, version, etc.
• Easy organization and back-up of font library
• Powerful font auto-activation for Adobe Creative Suite products (not Photoshop) and QuarkXPress
• Powerful font diagnosis and repair
• Font Doctor (free with purchase)

Company: Extensis
Retail cost: $99.95

FontExplorer X Pro (Mac OS X v10.6, 10.5 and 10.4)

FontExplorer X Pro software is font management from the font experts. Linotype has been around for many years creating and licensing fonts with experience in font management.

FontExplorer X Pro is optimized for use with large font collections and can handle them quickly, efficiently and reliably.

Main features:
• Supports TrueType and OpenType fonts
• Customizable interface, including list view and kerning pairs
• Backup functionality
• Easy activation/deactivation groups and smart sets
• Powerful font auto-activation for Adobe Creative Suite products (including Photoshop) and QuarkXPress
• Quick font deactivation and font cache clearing functions
• Integrated font store for purchasing additional fonts

Company: Linotype
Retail cost: $79

Which font management software do you recommend?

Your decision should be based on asking yourself the following questions:
• How many fonts do I have in my collection?
• How often am I adding new fonts to the collection?
• How much money do I want to spend on a font management solution?
• Do I have a need to create sets or groups of fonts to activate together or am I fine?
• Do I regularly use programs like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign or QuarkXPress?

From these questions, you can narrow down what font management software will work best for you. For me, I have a large collection of fonts and I work on a Mac, so Apple’s Font Book was not an option for me. I have been using Suitcase Fusion for many years, so it has been my choice for font management and it has done a great job. It is both PC and Mac compatible but also the most expensive, so that may be enough reason to look at either FontExplorer X Pro (Mac) or FontExpert 2009 (Windows). If you don’t want to spend a dime, then I would suggest the Windows 7 font management, AMP Font Viewer 3.86 for older Windows users, and Font Book for those on the Mac.

And finally, I wanted to include some tips to help organize your fonts. After watching my lovely wife load fonts into Suitcase directly from a font CD and getting error messages whenever the CD was ejected or moving fonts into different folders throughout the computer, I have 5 simple ways to simplify and organize your fonts:

1. After downloading fonts or pulling them off from a CD/DVD, always place them in a central location. I have a folder named “fonts” located on the main hard drive. All fonts go to this folder and within this folder I have created sub-folders for the different collections that I have. For example, I have Adobe, Bitstream, Agfa, ScrapNfonts, Émigré, Dafonts, and many others listed as sub-folders. If your CD/DVD has an application that automatically copies the fonts over, make sure to direct it to your “fonts” folder.

2. If you are given the option to download either a TrueType (TTF) or OpenType (OTF) font, download the OpenType font only. This will reduce duplicates and OpenType files are smaller in size and hold more characters in some fonts. If you are using a personal cutting machine like the Silhouette, Creative Cutter or Wishblade, you may want to check with the manufacturer to make sure that both TrueType and OpenType fonts work with your machine.

3. If you find that you have a group of favorite fonts that you use 98% of the time, then it makes sense to create a “set” within your font management software and turn the set to be permanently on. Others can be activated individually as needed.

4. To prevent losing your font collection, due to a hard drive crash or change in computers, you should regularly back-up your font collection. A great benefit that is offered for free at ScrapNfonts, is that once you have purchased a font and downloaded it from ScrapNfonts, if the font gets lost or corrupt, you can go back to your account at ScrapNfonts and download the font again. All fonts are “saved” for you in your account.

5. Have fun!

Well, I hope that this helps in your quest to better manage the fonts that you have and use. I know this was a lot of information, but hopefully you will read through it and find ways to more efficiently manage your fonts. If you are still having technical issues, due to the software or hardware, I would encourage you to go to the manufacturer’s website and look for troubleshooting or FAQ pages.

Enjoy and keep sending your questions, fonts to identify, wish list for new fonts or anything else you want to get off your chest. I always love hearing from you. Email



Regina Easter said...

thank Brian, I actually use font explorer ..another free program...i need to see about deleting ones that are doubles or look alike...but how do i know which ones NOT to delete?

Jim Kidwell said...

Great post Brian, and some very sound advice.

Hopefully your wife enabled the Font Vault in Suitcase Fusion. As you noted, the Vault keeps all of your fonts in a single location, not spread out across the entire hard disk. This helps avoid situations where the desired font is not available because a CD was ejected or disk unplugged.

Hopefully everyone is moving over to OpenType fonts. The cross-platform compatibility, and extended feature sets (ligatures, extended programming, etc.) make them totally worthwhile.

Thanks for including Suitcase Fusion!

Jim Kidwell

Brian Tippetts said...

Good question, Regina.

What I would suggest before you begin deleting font files (either duplicates or stragglers) is to make a copy or back-up of all the fonts. In FontExplorer X, it has a feature to make a back-up, so later down the road if you are missing a font, you can retrieve it from the back-up.

To find out what fonts should not be deleted at the system level, you can go to either for Mac OS fonts or for Microsoft Windows fonts.


Lynn said...

I have The Font Thing. Is that any good? Thanks, Lynn