Font Filter: how do computers handle fonts?
August 28, 2007 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Font Filter: how do computers handle fonts? I am a (self proclaimed) PC expert but I am (and have been for ages) stumped about how a PC handles a document etc with a missing font?

how do computers handle fonts? I am a (self proclaimed) PC expert but I am (and have been for ages) stumped about how a PC handles a document etc with a missing font? (I only really am interested in the answer for windows based OSes...)

I did some experimenting and discovered that an email sent from one exchange user to another will simply use the default font of the recipients machine if the font does not exist on the system, but it appears that if you make a word doc with a font known not to be on the recipient's machine when they open it the font is displayed as orignally intended. Does the font get used (in this case at least) as a read only font or is it then installed for future use on the second machine? I understand that an email and a .doc are two very different beasts so I am looking for more of an overview.

I hope this isn't easily googled as I have applied all the fu i have an no luck.
posted by chasles to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
You can embed fonts in a .doc file. Explained a little bit here
posted by polyhedron at 8:56 AM on August 28, 2007


I really depends on each app.

If you use for example Adobe apps - Indesign, Photoshop and Illustrator offer very different ways to handle missing fonts.

With the good old ATM at least the missing font was faked - that no longer happens.

So most apps handle it like you described - they simply revert to some default font.
posted by homodigitalis at 8:58 AM on August 28, 2007


The PDF format does all of this in the coolest way. Fonts can be embedded, of course, but you can also have only the actual glyphs used in that file embedded, so it's somewhat impossible to reconstruct the font in any way.

In other cases, the *outlines* of the characters are sent but not the font. This means you get the same look, no large file sizes, but it's impossible to add or edit text using the same "font".
posted by wackybrit at 8:59 AM on August 28, 2007


PDFs can also embed just metrics and traits (whether it has serifs, its stroke width and angle, etc.), so that if the displaying application doesn't have the font it can fake something up somewhat convincingly. (Or sometimes not so convincingly.)

It depends on each file format, and then in turn on each app reading that file format.
posted by hattifattener at 9:12 AM on August 28, 2007


it appears that if you make a word doc with a font known not to be on the recipient's machine when they open it the font is displayed as orignally intended.

In my experience, this is not the case unless the user specifically enabled the "Embed Fonts" option (which is extremely rare). What usually occurs is that Word continues to display the intended font's name even though it's not actually using that font. So if someone on a Mac sends me a doc which uses Myriad Pro, it still says Myriad Pro when I open it and click on the text in Windows Word but it's actually using and displaying Arial.

Why it substitutes Arial (and not Times New Roman) I couldn't tell you.
posted by junesix at 9:34 AM on August 28, 2007


junesix, through empirical testing i sent a file with a font 100% not on the recipient's machine. then i viewed the word doc there. the doc had not just the name of the font but actually displayed correctly. the font was not however available to be used outside of the document....
posted by chasles at 11:35 AM on August 28, 2007


Chasles, look at Tools -> Options -> Save and see if "Embed TrueType Fonts" is checked (on the computer where the file was created). That would explain why the font is being displayed correctly.
posted by teg at 12:33 PM on August 28, 2007


polyhedron, junesix, teg,

interestingly enough although it was working as described that option was NOT checked....

thanks to all.
posted by chasles at 1:17 PM on August 28, 2007


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