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Posted: 12/25/10

Changing Your Fonts - by Paul Rego

If you maintain a website, create a monthly newsletter or design some other repeating publication, you may decide to give it a fresh new look at some point. One way to do this is to simply change your fonts. Of course, when it comes to typefaces, there's really nothing "simple" about it. There's a full-on "science" behind the creation of fonts and how they're used. However, if your website or publication is for your family and friends, it's really YOU who has to be satisfied with how things look.

In order to examine your currently-installed Macintosh fonts, we'll use Apple's "Font Book" program, which has been included with all Macs for several years now.

Before We Can Begin

NOTE: Before following the Steps in this section, be sure to read my "Summary" below.

Before we get to Font Book, let's make sure we can access all your Mac's fonts from all your Mac's applications. If you have a program such as the very handy "The Print Shop", you may have noticed that there are extra fonts available when you use that program but when you open another program, say Apple's "Pages" (part of iWork), you don't even see those fonts. This is because some programs come with fonts embedded in them. Even Font Book won't show you these fonts, because they're not available to your Mac's Operating System

Extracting Fonts

With some programs, the technique may be a bit different but here's how to make The Print Shop's fonts available to all your programs:

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  1. Locate "The Print Shop" program but don't open it. (It's in your "Applications" folder.)
  2. Place the Pointer over its icon. Hold down the "Control" key on the keyboard and click the mouse button. When you do, a Contextual menu will appear.
  3. Choose "Show Package Contents".
  4. A new folder will appear and, inside, you'll see a folder called "Contents". Open it.
  5. Inside, you'll see a folder called "Resources". Open it.
  6. Inside, you'll see a folder called "Fonts". Click once on the folder icon.
  7. Pull down the "File" menu and choose "Duplicate".
  8. Drag this "Fonts copy" folder outside of that window and place it on your Desktop.
  9. You can now close all the windows we opened.
  10. Open the "Font Book" program.
  11. Click the "Create a new collection" Plus Sign (+), located in the bottom-left corner of the Font Book window. (I've marked this with a red circle below.) A "Collection" in Font Book is similar to a "Play List" in iTunes. All your fonts are stored in the library (called "All Fonts"). You can add and remove fonts from any of the Collections you create and they will remain in the "All Fonts" area.
  12. For this Step, you don't have to use the mouse or press the "Delete" key on the keyboard. All the text in the new, un-named Collection is already highlighted, waiting for you to enter a replacement name. So go ahead and give this Collection a name. In my example below, I called it "Check these fonts".
  13. Pull down the "File" menu and choose "Add Fonts..."
  14. Using the Sheet that appears (yes, that drop-down window is called a "Sheet") locate the "Fonts copy" folder on the Desktop then click the "Open" button. Font Book will not only import all of the fonts from that folder but they will be automatically added to your "Check these fonts" Collection.

Steps 1 and 2

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Step 3

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Terminology

  • Body Text: These are the characters which make up the standard paragraphs in a document. Typically, this would be a black, 12-point font, regular (neither italic or bold). Some fonts work better at small, Body Text, sizes than others. (see "Title")
  • Dingbats: Symbols and designs which are not usually found in a font.. For many years now, Apple has included the "Zapf Dingbats" font in all Macs.
  • Kerning: The adjustment of space between two characters.
  • Leading: (rhymes with "bedding") The space between lines of text.
  • Monospaced Font: A font in which each character occupies the same amount of horizontal space. Take a look at "Courier" and "Monaco". These are Serif and Sans-Serif " Monospaced fonts respectively. In the Monospaced example to the right, notice that the words "computer" and "illusion" each have 8 characters. With a Monospaced font, both words take up the same amount of space horizontally. The font "Big Caslon", on the other hand, is a Proportional font and each of these words spreads out to a different point.
  • Proportional Font: A font in which all of its characters have "fitted" widths.
  • Sans Serif: A font which has no "serifs". (On computer screens, these are easier to read than "Serif" fonts.
  • Serif: The short line which projects from the end of a character. (Marked by red circles in the example to the right. (On printed material, these are easier to read than "Sans-Serif" fonts.)
  • Title: A large word or words which announces the main subject of the article below it. Some fonts look better at larger sizes than other fonts. When choosing a "Title" or "Sub-Title" font, be sure it looks good and is readable at larger sizes -- 18-point and higher.
  • Tracking: The equal adjustment of space between characters. (Typically, an entire line of text.)
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The characters above ar e from the "Zapf Dingbats" font. Because this is a "font", and not a group of images, they can be modified with any available font settings: bold, italic, centered, colored, etc.

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Two characters from a Serif font. The red circles show the serifs.

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item31 Font: Big Caslon item31
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item31 Font: Courier item31
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item31 Notice how the Proportional font, item31
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SERIF FONTS SANS-SERIF FONTS

Although the following screenshots were taken of 36-point, regular (non-bold) fonts, notice that the Leading is different.

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FONT: Broadcast, 36-point

FONT: Myriad Pro, 36-point

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FONT: Big Caslon, 36-point

FONT: Futura, 36-point

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FONT: Courier, 36-point, Monospaced

FONT: Monaco, 36-point, Monospaced

Examing The Fonts

As you look through your fonts you may want to first organize your fonts into Font Book Collections. Most Macs come with about a hundred or more fonts already installed. If you simply group them into "Serif" and "Sans Serif" Collections, you'll still have to sift through TONS of fonts.

When I recently went through my fonts, I used the Collection names you see in my screenshot to the right. Keep in mind that any categorizing of fonts is a matter of your personal taste. Here is the breakdown of what "I" did:

  • Casual: These are fonts which I consider to be more "irregular" than standard serif fonts but not as fluid as script (handwritten or elegant) fonts.
  • Dingbats: These are fonts which don't provide actual "letters" or "numbers". Instead, a symbol or design is produced.
  • Dry Paint: This Collection title was already in Font Book. I kept it because the fonts it contains DO look like they were drawn with a dry paintbrush. I was surprised to find more fonts which also meet this criteria.
  • Fixed Width: These are Monospaced fonts. Since I knew there wouldn't be very many, I didn't try to organize "Serif" and "Sans Serif" into different Collections.
  • Fun: These are the wild fonts... The ones which are just plain different. (Actually, they're anything but "plain".)
  • Modern: I could have simply called this Collection "Sans Serif" but because these types of fonts look more "up-to-date" than "Serif" fonts, I decided to call it "Modern".
  • Old English: These fonts look as though they were designed with the Middle Ages in mind.
  • Script: These are fluid and elegant. These are not necessarily "handwritten" fonts, because some of those can be a bit rough. The fonts in my "Script" Collection are more thought-out than that.
  • Title - Bold: Because some fonts look better at larger sizes, I decided to use a Collection to keep them separate. This Collection has those heavy fonts which can really attract attention.
  • Title - Fancy: Here, I've placed those fonts which require larger sizes but are a bit more elegant than the heavy fonts in my "Title - Bold" Collection.
  • Traditional: This Collection contains my "Serif" fonts.
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Font Book offers 3 views of any font. Look for them in the "Preview" menu.

  • Sample: Provides a view like the ones I've used above, under "Serif Fonts" and "Sans Serif Fonts".
  • Repertoire: Shows every character of a font in a very large grid. (Some fonts contain well over 240-characters.)
  • Custom: Enter your own text.

After categorizing your fonts, pick out a few all-purpose fonts. You may want to create a "Favorites" Collection and place them in there. (Font Book allows you to place the same font into more than one Collection. So go ahead and spread them around. Just be sure the font you add to a Collection matches what YOU think that Collection-name represents.) Here are a few examples of what I mean by "all-purpose" fonts...

  • Body Text Fonts: This would be one Serif and one Sans Serif font, which will look good for paragraphs. (In other words, they should be readable at small sizes... say 9-point through 14-point.
  • Title Fonts: Although we have two "Title" Collections, having one or two fonts which would look good for titles may help you when you need to quickly pick a font and have it work reasonably well in most situations. To fit this description, I wouldn't pick anything too fancy. Again, we're looking for just a handful of fonts which will work pretty well in most of your everyday creations.
  • Script Font: It might be a good idea to also include one script font. This would be for those times when you might need something elegant but not too formal.

Although you can add as many "Favorites" fonts to this Collection as you want. Keep in mind though that these are for those "quick-and-dirty, last-minute, I don't have time to think about this now" happenings that life throws at you. If you have too many fonts in this Collection, causing you to make even more decisions, then you've defeated its purpose.

More Things To Look For

Also examine the fonts for any specific characters you may need to use. For example, if you are going to be working with financial documents, make sure you are satisfied with the Dollar Sign ($), Cent Sign () and numbers. (Notice in my "Serif Fonts" and "Sans Serif Fonts" examples that some of the fonts will display their numbers evenly on the same baseline. Other fonts have their numbers placed at different vertical levels.)

If you're looking for fonts for a specific project, such as a book, be sure the title of the book looks good in the font you select -- don't just examine the font in Font Book's "Sample" feature. Choose "Custom" from the "Preview" menu and type in the title of the book.

I'm not a font expert by any stretch of the imagination. When I look at Proportionally-spaced, Serif fonts, they all look like slight variations of the "Times" font. To me, all Sans Serif fonts look like variations of the "Helvetica" font. However, I have done enough page-layout for books and advertisements to know that each font IS different in some way. Sometimes this can't be seen by browsing the fonts in Font Book. Sometimes the only difference is in the font's Leading or line width and you won't know just how much of a difference one offers over another until you actually change the font in the book you're creating. I've seen fonts, which don't really show a difference when I examine them. change the page-count in a book by 50-pages! When you're paying to have a book printed "by the page", you may want to use another font -- or at least justify why you need to use the now-more-expensive one.

When examining the "look" of a font, be sure to at least glance at all of its characters, in Font Book's "Sample" feature. One reason why I wouldn't use the "Futura" font for Body Text is because of it's lowercse "J". (See the Futura sample above in "Sans Serif Fonts".) A straight line with a dot on top does not provide enough information for the brain to quickly read a sentence which contains this letter. In a logo or advertising piece, Futura might work well but for standard paragraphs, the human brain is used to seeing a curved descender on a lowercase "J".

Summary

The idea for this article came from 2 things:

  1. I've been wanting to make some sort of change to this website for quite a while, and
  2. I hate the idea that I've used microsoft's "Verdana" font throughout this site! I guess I just took the easy way out, when I started using Freeway to design these web pages years ago. Verdana was in Freeway's "Character Inspector" and it's readable in paragraphs, so I just "went with it".

So, I copied the fonts from The Print Shop and instructed Font Book to import them and I started sorting them, just as I described above. After several days of sifting through my more than 340 fonts... I like "Myriad Pro" for the Sans Serif font and Broadcast for the Serif font. Because Myriad Pro's 12-point size is actually smaller than Verdana's 12-point size, however, I would have to increase the Body Text size to 14-point. -- which may not always be convenient.

When selecting a font for use on your web pages, be sure the font comes with current Macintosh models. Otherwise, your site Visitor's web Browser will automatically substitute a "Proportional" or "Monospaced" font and what they see won't always be exactly what you created.

NOTE: There is a way around this. When using a program like Freeway, instead of creating an "HTML" box for your text, use a "Graphic" box. In this way, when Freeway uploads your web pages, it will automatically convert all of the text in your Graphic text boxes to true graphics (images). The downside to this is that your pages will take longer to load AND your site Visitor's won't be able to highlight that text and Copy it (if that's what you want them to do). Also, the various "web crawlers" won't be able to index (keep track of) any web page's graphic text. (A "web crawler" is the software from Google, Yahoo, etc, which catalogs keywords from every web page on every site it can find. So, whenever anyone searches the Internet through these Search Engine companies, their software simply looks up your search terms in its database and presents you with the information you are requesting.

So, I went to this Apple web page to see which fonts are not only "installed" in Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5) but only considered those fonts which cannot be turned off. (I could not find an Apple page which lists the "Snow Leopard", 10.6, fonts.) My final choices are:

  • Lucida Grande, for Sans Serif fonts,
    • NOTE: The version of Lucida Grande, which comes with all new Macs, only allows for "Regular" and "Bold" -- it does not offer an "Italic" variation. Yes, some programs do offer an "Italic" setting -- even for those fonts which do not have an Italic variation installed. This way of creating Italic is simply done by leaning all the characters mathematically. In Typography circles, this is not true Italics but for most people's everyday use, it will work just fine. If you're using a font like Lucida Grande, and you need Italic but it's not offered, you can simply surround those words with double-quotation marks "like this".
      We work best by doing some of the things the professionals do. Since Apple has the money and the know-how, look over their web pages and see just how they handle Italic words, web-page design, image placement, etc.
  • Georgia, for Serif fonts, and
  • Courier (not "Courier New"), for Monospaced fonts.
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FONT: Georgia, 36-point

FONT: Lucida Grande, 36-point

If you want to choose fonts for any PDF files you create... the skies the limit, because the font is embedded with the document.

Remember, you can create a PDF document from any program you can print from. In the Print dialog box, there's an opton to "Save as PDF". These can be viewed on any Macintosh or PC and "most of the time", these PDF files are accepted at various businesses -- to publish a book, for example.

There's More!

To learn more about fonts visit this Monotype page and this Linotype page. This FontShop page provides an anatomy of fonts.


Posted: 1/5/11

MAMP

 

Build your own web server
 

By Sterling Garwood

This project started out over Christmas as a response to one of my grandkids need for a place to build a 'blog' for a school project. As usual, I received a phone call asking for help. We drove up to Illinois for Christmas and I talked a bit to her about it. She was the person on the team assigned to do a blog of the project.

I looked at various options. In the end she decided that all she wanted to do was have an environment on her laptop to do the project blog. All she really needed was a place to run WordPress (an open source blogging tool). In response to her needs, I looked around for Macintosh versions of the Apache, MySQL, PHP (or Perl) environment commonly known as 'AMP'. AMP is pretty standard in the web hosting world and is used as a base for a majority of the web sites out there.

That's when I came across MAMP (http://www.mamp.info/).

MAMP is a 'mashup' of Apache, MySQL, and PHP - all neatly bound up in a convenient Macintosh form. There are two flavors: MAMP and MAMP PRO. The 'PRO' version is really just a front end for the MAMP product and costs $59.00. MAMP itself is free since it consists of all open source components.

MAMP is well thought out. All the components live inside the MAMP.app bundle and can be installed as a drag-and-drop. MAMP must be installed in the Applications folder. MAMP does not modify any normal Mac OS X components and can be uninstalled by simply dragging it to the trash. There is a complete user manual and install info available online.

I downloaded MAMP, read the install information, and fired it up. After some customization it was ready to go. During the customization you specify database names, web server information and so on. It is all pretty much self explanatory. Once I got MAMP running, I downloaded WordPress from http://wordpress.org. A quick search of the WordPress site led me to http://codex.wordpress.org/Installing_WordPress_Locally_on_Your_Mac_With_MAMP which stepped through an install on top of MAMP. Within an hour of starting out (including download times) I had a WordPress site up and running on my laptop. Pretty impressive. Once again Grandpa was the hero!

I later spent the $59.00 for the MAMP PRO component. It provides configuration and status information as well as a web interface to control MAMP. It is well worth the money.

One question I asked myself was "Mac OS X comes with Apache. Couldn't I just install MySQL and PHP myself?" The answer is that I am lazy - I'd rather have someone else do the heavy lifting and build an easy to install and use tool.

For more information check out the MAMP FAQ at http://www.mamp.info/en/documentation/faq.html

MAMP is industrial strength code bundled in a Macintosh fashion. I would have no qualms in using it as a web hosting tool for a real web site. If you need a set of web hosting tools take a look at MAMP.

This page was updated on 1/5/11

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