5 Ways To Identify and Resolve Font Workflow Inefficiencies

How To Fix Font Inefficiency

Fonts can take a creative project from blah to mwah, and managing fonts is integral to creative workflows. Since fonts are inherently high maintenance, operations pros should invest in font management solutions to lighten the load across the board for designers, IT managers, and leadership.

In our recent State Of Creative Risk Report, we discovered that many creative ops experts struggle with workflow issues caused by fonts. And inefficiency is one of the major types of creative risks in operations. Slowdowns, miscommunications, manual management, and font licensing discrepancies can eat up valuable, expensive time, and cause problems of perception if font issues turn into creative project disasters.  

Here are five actionable ways you can reduce inefficiency risk when working with fonts.

1. Stop Personal Fonts From Sneaking In 


That’s right, 65.7%! Get the full 2024 State Of Risk In Creative Operations Report for a ton of additional statistics on the risks fonts pose—and how they impact creative operations—as provided by your industry peers.

Allowing personal fonts into your system may sound like a great accelerator for design inspiration and ideation. However, if these fonts are not properly licensed, you’ll likely need to work backwards to purchase, record, and input licenses for tracking. Which is expensive—but won’t cost as much as an unlicensed or improperly licensed font entering the workflow, getting collected for output, going live in a project, and generating a legal dispute.

We recommend implementing a system for managing personal fonts that either prevents them from entering shared workflows or provides ample structure to ensure proper licensing.  

2. Organize Font Clutter

Font collections don’t stay small for long when you’re busy. Our research shows the average size of a marketing or design team’s font collection is 4,500 fonts.  

Indeed, scale is why font collections naturally become chaotic. We recommend quarterly cleaning (or at least a spring cleaning) to straighten up and identify font issues, with a focus on:

  • auditing for duplicate fonts
  • reviewing font license requirements for updates
  • crosschecking font license permissions against how fonts are actually used in past and present projects

Speaking of font cleaning, PostScript Alert!  You may have several PostScript Type 1 fonts floating around your collection. While they’re fine to have, Adobe no longer supports them, so we recommend quarantining them with your font manager of choice to ensure they don’t sneak into new projects. We also recommend identifying proper substitutions with supported font types, just in case opening an old creative file also opens a can of worms. (Read more about PostScript problems here.)

3. Distribute Efficiently

If your IT department is manually supplying fonts, you’ve got a problem: specifically, a wasted time problem. Manual font distribution takes up time both for IT and creatives, and it also puts a hard pause on project starts. Instructing individual contributors to grab fonts directly from foundries can also result in improper licensing, creating legal risk. Instead, use a cloud-based font manager to quickly, clearly give team members the fonts they need for whatever project they’re working on. It’s more direct and allows you to control permissions effectively.

4. Ditch The Licensing Spreadsheet  

When it’s time to ensure all your project’s fonts are accurately licensed through a project review, many folks turn to a spreadsheet for reference. While spreadsheets can get the job done, there are much faster and more accurate ways to verify licensing.

Extensis Connect + Insight’s Project Risk Scanning scans supported Adobe files and checks fonts in use against their licensing terms in a matter of minutes. Manual cross-checking with a spreadsheet can take hours. Since manual reviews take up so much time, it can be cost-prohibitive to run them as frequently as you’d like. With Project Risk Scanning, you can review supported files through multiple iterations to get a licensing green light at every step.

5. Get Rid Of Creative Red Tape

When you think about “efficiency,” it may not seem like it goes hand-in-hand with creativity. The creative process, our culture tells us, is free-form, intuitive, unbound.  

{*Insert clip of Ed Harris throwing paint around in the film Pollock, LOOK AT THE GENIUS IN ACTION. That’s the only way creatives can create creative stuff. Can we get the rights to that? No? Hmmph. Well that makes sense.*}

But anyone who has ever worked on a brand campaign knows the creative process is ripe with structure: you can’t just throw paint around. However, there is something to be said about that flow state required to deliver something remarkable (yes, on time, and on budget, as promised, but still remarkable).  

That’s why there’s so much pressure to get in the zone, then move fast. You must build something from nothing. It’s go-time. And go-time should not be delayed because of administrative font management tasks.  

Font management tools improve operational efficacy for teams of all sizes. But there’s more to it than that. These tools ensure that designers have less busywork interrupting their real work. Auto-activation, Adobe plugins, and font pairing suggestions all minimize administrative busywork during design. In fact, effective auto-activation saves the average designer 34 hours each year. That’s practically a whole work week.

The time saved by designers adds up to remarkable work, banked billable hours, bandwidth to take on new projects, and the stellar reputation required for business growth.  

Great Font Management Up-Levels Everything

We know that a lot more than fonts goes into each and every creative project, but fonts can be particularly vexing. By reducing font workflow issues, you’ve solved a huge part of the larger process puzzle.  

Want to learn how creative operations pros keep the big wheels turning? Our State of Creative Risk Report looks at approaches across the country.  Download it here.