Font usage can be an issue even when the document creator and the Printer are both working on the same platform, but if you are trying to move a job from the PC to the Macintosh or vice-versa, you open a whole new can of worms. Compatibility is one reason why PDF has become so popular: it is a platform-neutral file format, and you can embed the fonts right into the document. This is not an issue when the job is moved from a PC to a Macintosh. However, PDF presents its own challenges, especially if you do not create the PDF using the correct settings. If you are interested in sending us PDF files, please give us a call to discuss the details. PC Fonts vs. Macintosh Fonts Adobe, Agfa, Bitstream, Emigre, FontHaus: these are just a few of the most popular companies out there selling fonts. There are many web sites that have free fonts to download. If you have materials coming from both Windows and Macintosh that will ultimately be combined into the same document, make sure that everyone is using fonts from the same company - for example, all Adobe fonts. If you need to buy a font for the Macintosh to match a font in use on the PC, make sure to buy it from the same company that produced the font you are trying to match. For example, almost every font maker (called font foundries) has a font named "Helvetica," but fonts from two different companies can have different "metrics," different spacing between the characters, or even different special characters like bullets and currency symbols. These differences can result in type re-flow, replacement of characters, and other issues that could cause your document to look substantially different from one platform to the other. Even worse, the document may look okay on the screen, but then output very differently from what you expect, leading to problems and delays. Both the Macintosh and the PC have proprietary "system" fonts that ship with the computer and the operating system, such as Chicago on the Machintosh and Symbol on the PC. Another example might be the font that you use for bullets and other special characters: On the PC, there is a font called "WingDings," while on the Macintosh you will find Zapf Dingbats. It is fine to use WingDings to create a PowerPoint presentation that will only be shown on a screen in your conference room. But this font may not be the best choice when quality is essential, such as when your job is headed for a costly, four- plus color offset litho print run with tens of thousands of impressions. A better move would be to make sure that you have Zapf Dingbats installed on both machines. That way, the printed piece is more likely to look like what you have on your screen. TrueType vs. PostScript There are a number of different types of fonts, including a new format call OpenType that is being promoted by Adobe and Apple. You’ll find support for OpenType built into Mac OS X. However, most fonts in use today fall into two categories: TrueType and PostScript Type 1. TrueType was an attempt by Apple during the late eighties to get away from paying royalties to Adobe for each Postscript laser printer they sold; the format was aimed at both displacing Adobe and creating a scalable font format for screen use. Apple also collaborated with Microsoft on TrueType, and on a screen-imaging model called "TrueImage." Microsoft introduced TrueType into Windows with version 3.1 in early 1992. Working with Monotype, they produced the core set of fonts - TrueType versions of Times Roman (Times New Roman), Helvetica (called Arial) and Courier. These fonts looked good on the screen, and perhaps just as important for Microsoft, they worked well with the mass- market inkjet printers that were just starting to take off. Unfortunately for us professionals, Adobe stayed the course with expensive and proprietary PostScript Type 1 fonts, and released Adobe Type Manager to handle the screen scaling and display issues on both Macintosh and PC. TrueType fonts didn’t work well in professional applications, because the professional, high-resolution output devices used in printing plants were all made using Adobe technologies. A large number of knock-off font CD promoters emerged, selling hundreds of fonts on a disc for prices as low as $49.00. These fonts were hastily-thrown-together rip-offs of the major foundries’ designs, and often did not print properly. In addition, mixing these cheap TrueType fonts with PostScript fonts would often scramble the brains of professional-quality output devices like Imagesetters that printing companies and service bureaus used to produce film for offset printing applications. Just like with anything else, keep in mind that "there is no free lunch." Cheap or free fonts are probably going to create issues as many discovered during the early days of TrueType. Fortunately, in the late nineties, Adobe finally relented and opened the PostScript Type 1 format to outside font developers. Almost simultaneously, they lowered their font prices. Adobe fonts are still expensive, but they are less expensive than ever, and they are of the best quality that you can buy. Apple and Adobe made friends again, and so we’re in a much better situation today than we’ve ever been on the Macintosh side of things. Bottom line: Avoid TrueType Fonts. Here’s a checklist to help you avoid the most common font issues: - Always use the same PostScript font from the same company (foundry) on both platforms. - Don’t use an application’s built-in "Styles" or its style menu to apply things like bold or italics to text. - Always use a specific font like "Helvetica Bold" or "Helvetica Bold Italic." This will save everyone time and headaches when your job is being imaged. When you apply styles from the menu, they often do not output properly. Both Macintosh and PC come with fonts that aren’t available on the other platform. Similarly, some programs you buy come with fonts (an example of this is Microsoft Office.) Don’t use these fonts for your professional jobs. Arial isn’t exactly the same as Helvetica. They look the same to the naked eye, but when output on a high resolution device on another platform, only Helvetica from the same foundry will match. - Do not use system fonts like Chicago. If you like the way a system font looks and want to use it in designs, then convert the type into "curves" with Adobe Illustrator. That way, the type will image properly. - Supply fonts to your printer. Although we have a huge library of fonts, if you use a font that, for example, isn’t in the Adobe Library, you may want to send it on a CD along with your job so that we can output it. We will only use it for your job. If we don’t notice that we don’t have the font, our output device may "substitute" the font and your job won’t look the way you intended. - Plan to spend time making sure that the cross-platform document works properly (or we might have to, and that could cost extra. ) If you are moving a complex document created with a page layout or other desktop art program from the Macintosh to the PC or vice-versa, please make sure that you can print it out on a PostScript laser printer to your own satisfaction before you send it to us. Doing so will save us both a lot of troubleshooting time and possible delays. Summary There is no substitute for running jobs in the software, on the platform, and with the fonts that it was created with. In the graphic arts industry, we are living in a world with two very popular computer platforms: the Macintosh and the PC. This can create challenges and require all of us to make compromises. We’ll work with you to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible, regardless of which programs or platforms you use. We’re committed to making your job look its best at every stage in the process, and to produce the best possible piece when all is said and done!