January 12th, 2009 by Jim Kidwell
You’ve probably been there before. Whether it’s in a classroom, prepress shop or elsewhere, someone has told you that if you use the Bold and Italic buttons in QuarkXPress, fire will rain down from the sky and your document will implode like never before. While this might not necessarily be the case, the truth is a bit more complicated, and has a lot to do whether you’re using QuarkXPress on a Mac or on a PC.
QuarkXPress Product Manager, Dan Logan recently posted some valuable information on the Quark forums about this very topic. And to spread the info to all of you, I’ve included it here.
The problem here is that many people equate the bold & italic buttons to faux transformations in all cases. For example in Kurt Lang’s post he says “In Quark, pressing the Bold, Italic or other styles in the tool bar applies a faked version of the effect to the standard font”. This is not true in all cases. In Scott’s post referenced above he explains how in certain cases you can apply bold or italic via the button and still get an intrinsic instance (“intrinsic” is what we call it when you’re using a font that has the style built-in rather than applying a “faux” transformation to the base font). In fact on Windows you may be required to use the buttons to get the intrinsic font. The difference stems from differences in how the platforms deal with building font menus, which we rely on the OS for since we don’t load the fonts directly.
Also I would say it’s untrue to imply that ALL PostScript RIPs choke on faux bold and italic. Sure, it’s better practice to always use intrinsic fonts, but these days many RIPs and prepress shops can handle those transformations without blowing up. I would argue for intrinsic fonts more as a typographic consideration — faux italics in particular are just plain ugly.
So what is a designer to do? If you’re working on the Mac then we’ll always show all available fonts in the menu (at least the ones the OS tells us are available using the Carbon APIs — this is a different issue). The only exception to this rule is legacy suitcase fonts and dfonts, which may hide intrinsic instances from the menu. So you can’t go wrong by selecting the proper font from the menu; however, in some cases you can also use the key commands and buttons for bold and italic and still get the intrinsic font. On the Mac we’ll only apply a faux transformation if you apply that style and the corresponding font family doesn’t have a bold or italic instance. If you’re unsure then check in Usage > More Information and confirm whether or not the name of the real font file being used is normal or bold/italic. For example, if you’re using the same font all the time and you know it contains intrinsic bold and italic then you’ll probably want to use the keyboard commands to apply them rather than selecting them from the font menu every time.
If you’re on Windows then it’s even trickier because you may have intrinsic styles loaded and they’re not even shown in the font menu. In this case you can still use the Usage dialog to confirm it and then use those fonts with the bold/italic buttons without worrying.
Here at Quark we realize that this is a huge pain and causes a lot of confusion. We are working to solve this problem and make sure that you can more easily tell when you’re using an intrinsic instance of a font rather than a faux transformation, and we want to introduce a mode whereby faux transformations are prohibited entirely (based on customer preference). So help is on the way, I just can’t commit to a timeframe.
So, sounds like the the whole confusing topic might be cleared up in the future. I’d like to cast my vote for adding a preference to always use the intrinsic fonts!