When good fonts go bad: how font corruption can derail your workflow
It starts off really innocently. “Oh this document looks a little off,” you think. “Maybe I just need to ratchet the point size down one. That’ll fix it.” Or a very generic looking error appears when you’re in the middle of something and it doesn’t sound serious so you dismiss it and move on.
Next thing you know nothing looks right, documents are reflowing all over the place, and some of what you’re looking at doesn’t even look like English! Welcome to the land of Corrupted Fonts. You will not enjoy your stay.
How do you resolve this? Your best bet is to restore from backup (you DO have your fonts backed up, don’t you?) and then re-open documents that were affected and make sure they are displaying properly. Your next question is probably “OK I know how to fix it, but how do I keep it from happening in the first place?” That answer is a bit trickier. Font corruption can be caused by a myriad of issues – from orphaned PostScript pairs, to issues resulting from the font’s construction or system crashes or any of a whole stack of other contributing factors.
It’s hard to determine if your issues are caused by a corrupt font because there’s no way to tell just by looking at it if the font is bad or not-there isn’t a checkbox in the Get Info dialog box that says “Corrupt” so you can tell! And to further complicate things, there isn’t just one particular behavior that tells you a font is bad. You could have a weird document, or an application crashing every time you try to open a document that uses the problematic font, or even just applications randomly crashing as they come across activated-and bad-fonts they don’t know how to handle.
One way to help keep this from happening is to use FontDoctor to diagnose and repair your fonts. To start, do this on your existing font collection, and if you are a person who deals with fonts from a lot of external sources you might even want to make FontDoctor part of your standard workflow. (I have talked to a lot of customers who have already done this and say that it saves them lots of trouble down the line.)
Also if you don’t use a font manager already, that is another layer of “protection” from corruption. First of all, if you use Suitcase Fusion 2, Universal Type Server, or Suitcase for Windows, you get font checking automatically. When you add fonts to professional font managers like ours, fonts are automatically scanned for corruption before being added. Since Extensis font mangers check for corruption and will also attempt to repair common problems right at the start, just by using a font manager you’re ahead of the curve.
While there’s no easy or clear-cut way to tell how font corruption happens, we try to help you keep corrupt fonts out of your workflow.