What Is Font Management?

Fonts are everywhere. From print ads to webpages, or even clothing labels, fonts are an integral part of many forms of communication. For anyone who works regularly with fonts, having a system for organizing and managing them is critical. Many graphic designers, creative directors, and print and publishing professionals relay on font management software to support their creative workflows.

Font management software can be used to:

  • Centralize, organize, and sort font collections
  • Preview and compare fonts easily for quick identification and selection
  • Detect and repair corrupt, missing, or duplicate fonts
  • Activate and deactivate fonts as needed
  • Managing and tracking font licenses

Taking control of fonts with font management software can pay dividends in the long-term for anyone who utilizes them often in their work.

Why Use a Font Manager?

Working with fonts can be challenging. Not only do duplicate fonts creep into font collections easily, locating a specific one used in past projects can take up precious time. And using an incorrect version of a font in a design can be costly.

Across industries and professions, font management software helps individuals, teams, and organizations improve productivity, save time, and ensure accuracy. Font managers fall into two main buckets – basic and professional.

Basic font utility applications include Font Book, a free font software with limited features for macOS. Basic font utility software allows users to browse and preview fonts, activate, and use fonts for use in their applications.

Professional font managers give designers, creative professionals, or organizations with large or varied font collections advanced ways to organize, manage, and access the fonts they need when they need.

How to Organize Fonts

Organizing fonts manually in folders across storage locations — such as your hard drive, external drives, cloud drives, and networks, can be tedious and time-consuming. If your font collection has outgrown your ability to manually keep track and organize it, there are software tools that can help.

Using a font management application to organize and manage your font collection gives you visibility into your entire font collection, and helps you find the fonts you need quickly so you can focus on the creative work. Font managers such as Suitcase Fusion and Universal Type Server allow you to consolidate and organize your fonts by projects, client, foundry, font family, type designer, serif vs. sans-serif, or whatever system best supports your workflow.

Countless hours can be lost wrestling with an unorganized or inaccessible font collection. Successfully organizing your font collection with a font manager can help you be more productive and creative in your work.

How Do I Fix Font Errors?

There are many reasons why a font may not display correctly. Many designers have experienced the dreaded missing fonts error message in a creative application such as Adobe InDesign. When you don’t have the font you need when you need it, it can derail a project — font problems can cause downtime and costly mistakes.

Here are three common font issues and some ways to fix them:

  1. Corrupted fonts — Fonts are digital files and as with any digital file, can become broken, damaged, or corrupted. The best way to check for damaged fonts, and repair them, is to use a corruption detection software such FontDoctor [link to FontDoctor page] to scan your font collection and report and help you fix any issues.
  2. Font conflicts — Conflicts can happen when a font required for a project has the same name as a font already in use on your system — but the fonts are not identical. Differences can include kerning, character sets, and potentially even more issues. Basic font managers use PostScript names or font menu names as identifiers, leaving the door open for “silent” font substitutions. Extensis’ font management software avoids this issue through a patented font-matching technology called Font Sense to accurately “fingerprint” a font using type, kerning and other characteristics unique to each font. This ensures the right font is used every time.
  3. Missing fonts — Sometimes a font is available but inactive, and font managers can help resolve missing fonts through auto-activation. Basic font managers offer limited and often imprecise font auto-activation. Extensis font managers offer advanced plugin-based auto-activation by employing proprietary Font Sense ID technology. Font Sense is an innovative font identification and activation technology that ensures a smooth workflow by identifying, locating, and activating the exact fonts used in documents.
What is a Font Server?

A font server is similar to an image server, but instead of delivering images, it delivers fonts. The phrase “font server” has also become a shortened way to reference server-based font managers such as Universal Type Server (UTS).

Many large organizations choose a server-based solution for font management because it provides:

  • Centralization — All fonts are accessed from one secure location
  • Consistency — Users are guaranteed to be using the same fonts across the organization
  • Compliance — Ways to ensure that your organization is using only fonts it has licenses for
  • Collaboration — Teams have access to the same fonts to use across projects
  • Creativity — Users gain access to a wider variety of fonts when all fonts are shared

Server-based font managers give administrators a central hub from which to store, organize, control, and distribute fonts to an unlimited number of users. This saves administrators significant time and streamlines the process of getting the right fonts to the end-users who need them.