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Name Strips, Inc. (a division of Nelson-Harkins Industries) Quick Reference
Quick Reference

Graphic Design

Building a Font Library

Fonts are to printing what specialty accessories are to car enthusiasts. If used properly, they can really add a touch of class. When used in excess, however, they can turn into fuzzy dice and gaudy chrome hubcaps. From the days of the monks and their elaborate manuscripts to the thousands of font styles available today, people have always needed to vary the look and feel of their writing. Sometimes it's merely a matter of taste, but the letters can also establish the tone of the content.

It's a fact that there is a deep connection with the way letters look and what they actually say. That's why many people spend a lot of time deciding exactly which font suits their document. Changing the style of the font from the standard Times New Roman to a scripted font can add a personal feel, while a more simplistic font such as Arial can suggest a more direct approach.

Trying to locate the right font can be a time consuming process. Sometimes, despite a valiant search, it can be impossible to locate the right font for a particular job. When this happens, it's important to have a number of references available.

If you want to start building a font library, or add to your existing fonts, there are a few things to keep in mind. You should first start by removing the fonts that you never use. They take up valuable disk space and require additional installation time each time you boot up your computer. Too many unused fonts can also make searches far more tedious.

After purging your collection of unused fonts, you start looking for specific font styles that you like. One of the best ways to build a font library is to purchase font collection CDs. They're a convenient resource, and you can browse through the collection at your leisure without loading the entire CD on your computer. Some font collections even come with a printed reference book showing examples of the fonts, which is much easier than just highlighting text and experimenting in a word processor.

Another good place to look for fonts is the Internet. Typing in the word "font" into any search engine is certain to bring up several good sites with fonts you can download for free. One excellent site for finding new fonts is They have many new releases, and several site links to other freeware font sites.

When you begin looking for fonts, you'll discover two main file extensions; .fot and .ttf. These respectively stand for Font and True type font. The regular .fot extension is for fonts that aren't too graphically intensive, and are perfect for standard word processing and text manipulation. A True type font is usually used in more graphic design projects due to their more artistic nature. True type fonts are generally more artistic and varied in style.

You should gather fonts in two separate folders on your hard drive. One should be for "permanent" fonts, or those which you use most often. The other should be labeled "temporary", for fonts used only on current projects. Remember not to overload your hard drive with an enormous font library. You should consider alternate forms of storage such as CD, Zip or a document server.

Also, don't forget to include your fonts on the transfer disks that contain your job files. With so many variations of fonts available, it's always safest to provide your own.

Choosing new fonts and using them intuitively is a knack, but once mastered, it can be an effective way of communicating. However, no matter how great the font, it shouldn't be expected to compensate for a lack of content quality. The main thing to remember is that fonts should be used as an enhancement to your writing, not the cornerstone.

Name Strips, Inc. (a division of Nelson-Harkins Industries)
5301 N. Kedzie Ave. • Chicago, IL 60625
Phone: 773-478-7060 • Fax: 773-478-3488

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