This two-minute video clip comes from this week’s Creativetechs’ January 8, 2009 workshop: Font Management for Designers in Mac OS X.
Why do designers need to manage fonts anyway? Here is a nice visual example. This video shows the default font menu from InDesign before we’ve done any font management at all. A lot of designers have forgotten that they can have a short font menu. You should be in control of that choice, you shouldn’t be having a bunch of fonts in your menus just because they happen to be pre-installed by a bunch of applications.
So, why do designers need to manage fonts anyway? I’ve got a really nice visual example. This is the font menu from InDesign before I’ve done any font management at all.
I took a stock iMac, and I installed just Mac OS X Leopard, just like it comes from the Apple store, with OS X Leopard. I installed Adobe Creative Suite 3, Adobe Creative Suite 4, and then Microsoft Office. So basically, if you can think about the type of work that most designers do every day, that’s about a stock and basic a setup that you’re going to get. You’ve got a new Mac from the Apple store – it comes with your iLife products and it comes with iWork, probably pre-installed. You install your Adobe Creative Suite and you install Microsoft Office.
Then you go into InDesign and you look at the font menu — let me start this scrolling by – and the font menu is huge. and has this kind of default landscape that we’ve just described. I mean, if I can have a long conversation with you while we’re scrolling down to Zapf Dingbats, that’s a long font menu.
How long does it take you to get down to Zapf Dingbats? Actually, if you look at that menu, there’s fonts even past Zapf Dingbats in that list. That’s huge!
Now, why that matters for graphic designers is, every font that is open is a little piece of application code that’s running on your computer. I mean, you may think of these as a piece of graphic, but they’re actually small, little software applications that are effectively running on your computer; a little code that is running, and every piece of code slows your computer down a little bit.
So, the more fonts you have active, the slower your computer gets. If you think about this: you just get that stock computer, you put it on your desk and install Creative Suite, you install Word and it’s already got hundreds of fonts already in the font menu. That’s before you start adding any fonts that you actually want to use for your creative purposes. So, when we are done simplifying your font menu, I want your font menu to be really, really short and concise.
When we have cleaned this up, you should have, by default, a very short font menu in InDesign. And then, when you are working creatively, you should be able to activate or de-activate the fonts you need for your creative purposes. But, when you just open InDesign and before you start activating fonts that you want to work creatively, the font menu itself should be really, really tight.
So, a lot of times, when I present that in person, in groups, there’s this little hum. I think a lot of designers have forgotten that they could have a short font menu. You know, if you’re working… Especially if you’re working corporate or you’re working on a client projects that have maybe twelve defined fonts; you’re not doing a logotype, you’re not designing, but you’re just doing straight production on something, maybe you’re spending a week doing production on an annual report, your font menu should just be focused on the fonts that you’re using. You shouldn’t have to scrolling for Zapf Dingbats or Wingdings whenever you need to get to those.
The fewer fonts you have active, the faster your computer gets, and becomes that balance of: “How many fonts do I want to have active creatively versus how fast I want my computer to run?” You should be in control of that choice, you shouldn’t just be having a bunch of fonts in there because they happen to be pre-installed by a bunch of applications.