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There’s been an interesting discussion started over on Usenet about font licensing. There are many important usage issues surrounding the use and transfer of fonts from one person to another.

As a company that specializes in font management, we’re definitely interested in helping you maintain compliance with font licensing. That’s why we’ve built license tracking, and client font control capabilities into our server-based font management products. These features can help you determine how many licenses that you may need of specific fonts, as well as keep any unlicensed fonts from entering your workflow by locking down the ability of user to add any unlicensed fonts onto your systems.

Look for a more detailed discussion about font licensing to be posted here soon.


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You’ve seen them on the web. They’re lurking in all of the dark corners, calling out to you. They can be attractive, give you a bit of simple pleasure and frequently can be had at extremely low low prices. But be forewarned, with all of their attractive qualities, they have a dark side.

Yes, you know what I’m talking about – free fonts. Of course, they’re are easily located everywhere on the web. You’ll find collections of them published by many a site (even over at my favorite little haunt, Lifehacker). And while they might be tempting to use, it’s best to avoid them in favor of fonts from reputable font shops.

Potential problems with free fonts:

  • Badly designed fonts might be missing commonly required settings thus causing the font to be corrupt in some applications, and even cause application crashes.
  • Some fonts may have been created for a very specific purpose by a designer, and may only contain a few glyphs. Thus, you’re left with a number of missing glyphs, making it difficult to typeset much of anything.
  • Some fonts can contain inconsistently applied kerning values, making the what you typeset look improperly spaced and jumbled.
  • inappropriate hinting
  • Some freely provided fonts can even be missing critical parts of the font, for example the printer or screen portion of a PostScript font.
  • Improper font hinting can cause fonts to look pixelated and illegible on your screen.
  • You might have display and print size limitations due to badly designed characters within the font. What might look fine set at 10 points on the page might not scale well for use on a poster or other large display.
  • Document output may be affected with poor quality fonts.

Fonts from reputable font shops provide a number of benefits:

  • Font products that have been rigorously tested with common applications
  • Complete collections of unicode glyphs
  • Correct implementation of the most modern standards, such as OpenType
  • Technical support if you need it.

In the end, it’s wise to assume that there’s always a cost that you’ll pay with a “free” font. The old adage, “You get what you pay for” definitely holds water for fonts. We recommend that you purchase and use fonts from font foundries who provide a high quality product, and back up their product with technical support if needed.

There are many foundries that provide excellent quality products. The following are a few font foundries that provide good, high quality font products:

Microsoft also maintains a list of commercial font foundries from which to explore. Do you have a favorite type foundry? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.


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A UK newspaper, The Guardian, used to print special sections on different countries around the world. In their April 1, 1977 edition the supplement was about a fabulous place called San Serriffe. Twenty-two years later, the Guardian returned to San Serriffe to see how things had changed since free elections were held after General Pica was no longer in power. It’s a pretty interesting article on these two little islands, locally referred to as Upper and Lower Caisse. You also find out a bit about the capital city, Bodoni, and even get a peek into their government.

Are you rolling your eyes at this yet? You should be. It really did from the Guardian in 1977, but as an April Fool’s joke, and it’s rated as one of the top 100 ever by the Museum Of Hoaxes. I was reading this article listing the best April Fool’s Day hoaxes ever, and I thought the tropical isles of San Serriffe were too amusing not to share.

What I like best about the whole thing is that it was the Guardian, an otherwise reliable news publication, and that they went back years later. I like knowing when an organization has a sense of humor (I guess since they’re British they’d have a sense of humour though). Like when Burger King announced The Left-Handed Whopper, my opinion of them improved. They still aren’t my favorite drive-through food, but I have been known to eat there so it was nice to know they can be funny.


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ATMWhile it’s not exactly new news, it’s worth repeating that Adobe doesn’t have any current plans to update ATM for compatibility with Microsoft Vista.

There is a workaround available to get multiple master fonts working in Vista for Adobe applications only, but in general, you won’t be able to use ATM to manage fonts in a Microsoft Vista environment.

It worth mentioning that Suitcase for Windows was designed for maximum compatibility with Microsoft Vista, and includes font auto-activation options that weren’t available to ATM users.

I’d like to recommend that you check out a 30-day free demo of Suitcase for Windows. It’s a good replacement for ATM.


Arial vs. Helvetica

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a vs hWill the rivalry never end? Think you’ve got it all figured out? Take the Arial or Helvetica Quiz… (embarrassingly, I only got 6/10 correct…)

Better yet, take on the role of Helvetica “and let Arial know we don’t need its type around here.” Check out this interactive type game by Engage Studio (London).


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We launched a new print advertisement today which is fun, playful and in the vein of our past creative ads. It’s an advertisement for Suitcase Fusion, that takes a playful look at fonts.

Extensis Font Cows Ad

To be honest, I didn’t see the cows at first. Did you? I think that everyone that I show the ad responds just a little differently. I think that this is a sign of a fun and effective ad.

You’ll be able to see this one in the flesh in:

We’ve published a number of other fun ads in the past. I showcased a few of them in this post.


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If you weren’t fortunate enough to be able to attend SXSW this year (I wasn’t, yet I bet that if I beg all year long, I just might be able to wrangle myself a meager travel budget next year. So to start things off right… Puleeeeeze please please please please… anyone?) Oh well, where was I?

So, if you weren’t able to make it to SXSW this year, a number of the presentations were recorded, and are being presented on the web for download.

In one of the presentations, Richard Rutter and Mark Bolton discussed typography and the challenges of effective type use on the web. I highly recommend that you download the slides to flip through while you listen to the presentation.
Download the audio.

Download the slides to follow along.
[via Digit Magazine’s blog]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


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