When You Should Not Use a Font

When You Should Not Use a Font

All of the fonts that you have installed on your hard drive––Type 1, TrueType, and OpenType–do you know where they came from? Were they purchased from a reputable font foundry, or were they acquired from a freeware site?

The reason why this question is so important is because both Truetype and OpenType fonts can contain restrictions that will prohibit them from being embedded in a PDF file. That’s right, you could be using fonts to design an entire document only to find that when the design is complete, a PDF file cannot be created!

Sending the font and native application off to the print service provider instead of a PDF is not a solution, either. The problem with this is that most print service providers are working with prepress workflow systems that create a PDF files before output. These prepress workflow systems will honor the same embedding restrictions that will prohibit PDF creation and ultimately, job output.

One work-around that is often used in this situation is to convert the font that cannot be embedded to outlines. Converting a font to outlines means that that font is now a series of vector graphics, which creates a few more potential problems. First, a font that is converted to outlines may be difficult or impossible to edit if type changes are necessary. Second, a font that has been converted to outlines will print more bold (or “fatter”) than the actual font. Finally, a font converted to outlines––especially in a very large document containing heavy text––can make the file much more complex to RIP and output.

So, if a font is acquired from a freeware site, the best course of action is to create a QuarkXPress or InDesign document using that font, and try to make a PDF. If you get a warning dialog box, like the one shown below that states that the font cannot be embedded, then the font should not be used.



Remember, any font that contains embedding restrictions should never be used in print production workflow. Always make sure that a PDF file can be created with a newly acquired font before the entire document is designed.


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