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So, you have a massive pile of disorganized fonts. Some of them are collected with InDesign files, others haphazardly thrown into a network folder, and more in the various font folders on your mac.

We recently talked about Data Deduplication on the blog, so you’ve probably decided to get your rear in gear and organize all of your fonts using a font management system (you have, haven’t you?).

By adding all of your fonts to the font manager, only a single copy of each font is kept, making it much easier to find the fonts that you’re looking for.

Yet, when you look back into Suitcase Fusion, you see that there are 5 different copies of Helvetica. Why would this happen? “I’ve gotta call support,” you think to yourself.

Wait! Put down the phone! There’s an important thing to understand about how Suitcase Fusion and Universal Type Server looks at fonts. When each font is added, it is scanned. This scan allows the software to determine if the font is corrupt, as well as measures a number of unique identifying characteristics of the font.

It’s the identifying characteristics of each font that are compiled together to create what’s known as a Font Sense ID. So, as long as two fonts have different Font Sense IDs, both will be kept in the font vault, this is even if the two fonts have the same PostScript name.

This is actually a benefit to your design and layout work. That this situation as an example. You use a font that has slightly modified kerning tables in it to layout a very long document – for instance, a book or annual report. The original font was modified without your knowledge, but your layout looks good so you don’t care. Now what happens the next time you open, modify or print the document if the original, unmodified font is used? The entire layout will change, potentially causing drastic repercussions. Text could flow off the page, the document could be inadvertently printed without the missing text. And what would happen if you bought a book and the final paragraph wasn’t included. Not a good scenario.

When using the font auto-activation plug-ins, Font Sense IDs are read and embedded into documents. So you can be sure that the next time you open up your document, the exact, precise font is used.

So, when you’re using Suitcase Fusion or the Universal Type Client, if you see what looks like multiple copies of a font in your font list, look for the Font Sense IDs. If they’re different, one of the many font metrics that are measured is unique for that font. So put down that phone and get back to it, we’ve got you covered.

1 Comment »

One comment on “What exactly is a duplicate font?

  1. I think it’s important to mention that Font Doctor, which is supplied with Fusion, does NOT use Font Sense IDs to determine duplicates. My understanding is that it uses the internal Postscript name.
    Because we add fonts to Fusion using Add In Place rather than the Vault (for specific reasons I won’t go into here, including that we get artwork from outside sources), I’ve been using Font Doctor for years to identify corruption, clean up extra font sizes, etc., AND eliminate duplicates. BUT… Font Doctor will identify, and attempt to move, fonts that are not Exact duplicates but are only duplicates in name. So if you use Font Doctor to weed out duplicates, you may be eliminating fonts with subtle differences (e.g. kerning) from your collection.

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