Fonts, like rare stamps or coins, are fun to collect but easy to loose control of if you have lots of them. For both large and small publishers, font collections can easily run into the thousands. Carol DaSilva, IT business analyst at Rodale, outlines some fundamental, but critical, font management tips to bring an unruly collection back under control.

Monitor Incoming Fonts. DaSilva’s first tip is to get a utility that allows you to check incoming fonts. There are several inexpensive options in the $100 and under range. “It can tell you if the font is damaged and can heal it, or at least warn you if it’s damaged,” says DaSilva, who adds that in the case of Postscript fonts, which have two parts, the utility can quickly tell you if you have any incomplete sets. “[In Apple’s OSX] you just see a list of names in a folder and it’s more difficult to tell if you have all your parts, especially if you received a bunch of fonts from somebody.” Simply drag the font folder over the program icon and, typically, you’ll see a checklist of what’s right and what’s wrong.

Manage Your Collection. “If you’re not running font management software you likely have fonts in multiple places,” says DaSilva. “One of the biggest problems is having fonts of the same name from different manufacturers or different foundries.” Rodale’s collection runs in the thousands, says DaSilva, and with that kind of mass it’s virtually impossible to keep them straight without a professional font management application. Server editions will run in the $1,500 range.

Keep ‘Em Separated. Exploring font libraries for the right type treatment for a particular article is all part of the spirit of design, says DaSilva. The more fonts you have the more flexibility you have. However, magazines live by strict brand rules. An overly enthusiastic designer can dilute a magazine’s brand integrity. “We use a server-based font manager that allows us to control who has access to what font,” says DaSilva. “Even for a smaller company that has to keep their different font sets separate from each other you can control what’s loaded on the Mac and prevent people from being able to use fonts that they’ve just gotten from a friend or whatever. That’s how we stay legal on licensing and also make sure the correct [magazine] groups are using the correct versions of fonts.”

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