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Old 11-24-2007, 12:25 PM   #1
Steve Rindsberg
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Default Interesting font oddity (Windows)

A fellow posted a problem in another forum that turned out to be interesting.

He's a linguist and was including examples of several different writing systems in a PowerPoint presentation. Among others, he had samples of Sanskrit/Devanagari and Ethiopic, both in one text box. In order to enter the Ethiopic, he had installed an Ethiopic IME which came with its own fonts. He used these at first.

But prior to moving the presentation to a different computer that wouldn't have the Ethiopic IME or fonts installed, he sensibly decided to select the text in this multilingual text box and convert it to Arial Unicode MS, which would likely be installed on other computers, and if not, he could embed the font in the PowerPoint file.

After selecting all the text and converting it to ArialUniMS, everything looked fine. The glyphs changed a bit in appearance but were all correct.

On another computer, though, the Sanskrit and several other unusual fonts appeared as expected, but the Ethiopic font turned into Windows' standard "What the hell is THIS" empty square boxes.

So why, when Ethiopic apparently rendered correctly on his system, did it go walkabout elsewhere, even though the Arial Unicode MS font was available (we did check on this)?

I did some poking at the file and found that all the text in question WAS Arial UniMS, as far as PowerPoint was concerned, but the character numbers for the Ethiopic glyphs were in a range that wasn't included in Arial UniMS.

But as soon as I downloaded and installed an Ethiopic Unicode font, bingo, all was well in the presentation file. I didn't even have to restart PowerPoint or close and reopen the file.

My best guess, then, is that somewhere under the hood, Windows was getting a request for Arial Unicode MS, Unicode Character Number 4707 (to give one example) and coming up empty handed; so it went rooting around, found a font that had characters in the requested range and displayed them instead.

On the one hand, you have to give Windows points for going to these lengths to make the right glyphs appear. On the other hand, it can sure lead to confusion when you're trying to figure out why it works one place and not another.

Since the real problem was making sure that it worked on other computers w/o extreme measures, I explained how to convert the text to a bitmap. In theory, he could embed the needed font but any attempt to do that with the font I'd downloaded just crashed PPT.

The road goes on forever,
The party never ends

   
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Old 11-24-2007, 03:35 PM   #2
Hugh Wyn Griffith
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I sent someone here recently who was having trouble in finding Ethiopic fonts what would work on his machine -- this might explain his problem.

   
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Old 11-24-2007, 03:36 PM   #3
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Steve:

Quote:
but the Ethiopic font turned into Windows' standard "What the hell is THIS" empty square boxes
That's not surprising, because Arial Unicode has a lot of scripts, but Ethiopic is not listed as being among them, and it has nothing in the range U+1200 to U+137F, the range allotted to Ethiopic.

So the question is, what font was Windows using?

   
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Old 11-24-2007, 05:26 PM   #4
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You have to read all the way to the punchline. ;-)

It was using the Ethiopic font he'd installed .. on *his* machine.

   
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Old 11-24-2007, 05:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Rowley View Post
Steve:



That's not surprising, because Arial Unicode has a lot of scripts, but Ethiopic is not listed as being among them, and it has nothing in the range U+1200 to U+137F, the range allotted to Ethiopic.

So the question is, what font was Windows using?
Right ... as I originally wrote:

>> but the character numbers for the Ethiopic glyphs were in a range that wasn't included in Arial UniMS.

   
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Old 11-25-2007, 07:16 AM   #6
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Steve:

Quote:
It was using the Ethiopic font he'd installed .. on *his* machine
Yes, but you wondered why Ethiopic wouldn't appear on the 'foreign' machine:

Quote:
So why, when Ethiopic apparently rendered correctly on his system, did it go walkabout elsewhere, even though the Arial Unicode MS font was available (we did check on this)?
Arial Unicode alone would not help, since it doesn't have Ethiopic in its repertoire (nor does Microsoft claim that it has).

   
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Old 11-25-2007, 07:38 AM   #7
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Steve:

I'm more than a little confused by your reference to Windows (which version, by the way?):


Quote:
My best guess, then, is that somewhere under the hood, Windows was getting a request for Arial Unicode MS, Unicode Character Number 4707 (to give one example) and coming up empty handed; so it went rooting around, found a font that had characters in the requested range and displayed them instead.
I know Word will substitute another font if it can't find the font called for; I don't know how other MS Office programs work. But I do know that if the inquirer 'converted' the fonts used at first, some of them could be in fact unchanged (they're 'sticky'). There's also the question of the behaviour of fonts on pasted text (which may be irrelevant), because the options change sometimes between different verssions of Word.

   
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Old 11-25-2007, 09:34 AM   #8
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You can find lots to pick at if you insist on reading and commenting on one paragraph at a time, but there's really little point to that.

   
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Old 11-25-2007, 09:38 AM   #9
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>> I'm more than a little confused by your reference to Windows (which version, by the way?)

I reproduced the problem here using XP SP2 and mention Windows because it's Windows that handles the font subsystem, and Windows into which we install the fonts, not any given application.

In this case the application is PowerPoint. In at least some past versions, it maintained its own substitution table for several very common fonts (mostly to handle Mac vs PC font naming variations in files that leapt across the Great Platform Gap.) Beyond that, it's Windows that does the font substitutions.

   
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Old 11-25-2007, 12:33 PM   #10
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Steve:

Quote:
You can find lots to pick at if you insist on reading and commenting on one paragraph at a time
I wasn't 'picking' (if you mean nit-picking) but trying to deal with the few points I understood: I haven't much experience with PowerPoint, and none at all with its finer points—you have.

   
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