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Dr Mike J Smith
Kingston University

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Font management

Sat, 15 Oct 2011

Font management seems to be one of those things you never get around to if you aren't a designer (and possibly even if you are). Most people become fairly blinkered to using the standard set of fonts included with Windows and don't think much beyond Arial, Garamond or Times Roman (or, heaven forbid, Comic Sans!). Yet there is a world of creativity lurking in fonts that can lift and ordinary design to extraordinary. Typography is an essential element of design and Robin Williams' book is a wonderful entry point for those not party to right-brain creativity (with a very useful section on fonts).

Anyway.... font management. Long and short, is that you may end up with a collection of 1,500 fonts. If you install them all your system will crawl to the pace of ant running through maple syrup, besides the pain of actually trying to work out which ONE font you do actually want to use. Enter the world of font management of which the are a large number of tools available for Mac, Windows and Linux. They all work on a similar premise of viewing selections of fonts on-screen and allowing you to install/un-install them. Beyond that there are quite a few facilities for the serious high-end user. I currently use Nexus Font Manager which is (of course!) free to use. It allows viewing, install and uninstall of fonts, but also runs from a USB stick, grouping of fonts, once loaded all grouped fonts become available on the system (without needing to install them) and tagging of fonts (to allows searching). It's a reasonably powerful program and is great for the occasional need.

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