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Old 05-15-2015, 06:47 AM   #1
Steve Rindsberg
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 6,874
Default Font substitutions in MS Office (and elsewhere?)

For starters, this is mostly about Windows, but Mac users may be able to adapt it.

When a document calls for a specific font but the font isn't installed on your system, the operating system pulls the most appropriate substitute font out of its Big 'Ol Sackfull o' Fonts and hands it back to the app.

Sometimes the "most appropriate" choice is so ridiculously wide of the mark that it's immediately obvious that something's gone badly wrong. Other times, the difference can be quite subtle. Arial for Helvetica, for example. But sometimes the substituted font is so similar that you have to carefully compare each glyph to find one that tips you off; and yet the substitution may make the spacing or widths of text change quite a bit.

Working out whether the problem is a font substitution or something else can be quite difficult, especially since most programs have no way to tell you "Hey, this file wants Aachen but the OS handed me back Geo Slab Serif."

Turns out that if you have one of the Windows MS Office versions that can save as PDF (ie, 2007 and onward) you can save a PDF, open it in Reader/Acrobat, choose File, Properties and look at the Fonts tab. There you'll see a list of the fonts used in the PDF; in other words, the fonts that the app has sent to the PDF; in other words, the fonts that it's actually using ... substitutes included ... rather than the fonts the document itself calls for.

Steve Rindsberg
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