A logical approach to font organization


I want to start by explaining that this is not training in font organization; it simply an explanation of my personal approach. I've been working with fonts for Macs and Windows since the mid 1980s, and I've found this to be a reliable approach and can demonstrate that its principles are sound. Others may want to use (for example) organization by font type, such as headline, dingbat, serif body copy, sans serif body copy, calligraphy, and so on. I have absolutely no problem with that except for one general caution: similar file names.

You see, the chances are real slim -- let's just say zero -- that Bitstream is ever going to crank out two fonts that share the same file name. But the chances of one foundry using the same name as another, while certainly not particularly "great," is arithmetically infinitely greater. And that's the chance you take with the font-type approach.

But if you choose to organize by foundry, font type, or where you were on the day Kennedy was assassinated, the principles here will hold up.

Underlying principles

The approach contained herein fulfills several important criteria:

Disk structure

I like to organize fonts first by class (PostScript, TrueType, OpenType), and then by foundry (Adobe, Agfa, Bitstream, etc.). The following examples use Windows backslashes, but the structure is the same for Macintosh:

One folder that may be obvious by its omission is the C:\PSfonts folder. If you only have a few fonts and you want to toss them all in there that is fine by me, but I prefer to have more organization.

For those oddball fonts, I use directories like "Corporate" for fonts custom made for a corporation (unless it was made by a major foundry -- I placed the famous custom Apple Garamond in Bitstream) or those free handwriting fonts that spring up around the net into a Handwriting folder.

With Type 1 fonts, another level of organization below this is whether you (1) have individual folders for individual fonts (the font folder method), or (2) place all the PFBs in one folder and the PFMs in a subfolder (PFB/PFM method). In the font folder method, you would have, for example:

In the PFM/PFB method, you have:

I use the font folder method, but it took a long time to get there! You can also use the font folder method for OpenType, but I do not, since OpenTypes have one file per face.

So how can you implement this in ATM Deluxe?

  1. In ATM, export your sets. This is your option; if you only have a few, you might not want to bother.
  2. Still in ATM, delete all "known fonts" but don't delete their files.
  3. Exit ATM.
  4. Work your way to getting only one of any font, leaving things you have to have at all times in the Windows\Fonts.
  5. Search for all instances of "AdobeFnt*.Lst" and delete them; find "ttfcache" and delete it. (In Win9x it's a hidden file in the \Windows directory; it's not used at all in Win2K, and I don't know about WinNT.) Each AdobeFnt*.Lst will be recreated the next time ATM hunts down your files, and the cache file will be rebuilt when Windows boots up again.
  6. Restart ATM, and use File > Search to build a new library. Make sure the "Add without copying" is checked. If it is not checked, you will end up with two sets of font files: one set in your font-type\font-foundry folder, and another set in the path ATM uses to store its fonts (usually C:\PSFonts\).
  7. Reimport your sets.

Adding new PostScript fonts

Method 1: Add it to the foundry folder, then let Search add it to the known list. One method is to copy the font files to the appropriate folders by hand (ATM doesn't do this, you do, via the operating system), then do a Search on the folder to add them to the Master Font List. Note that if you are not using the \PSfonts folder (as I do not), when you do your File > Search, make sure "Add without copying files" is selected; otherwise, ATM will make a copy of it in the \PSfonts folder and activate it from there . . . and you have two copies of all your fonts.

This method supports any folder organization method.

Method 2: Let ATM add it to the foundry folder. Another method -- and the one I prefer for just a few fonts -- is to use ATM's Search, but this time WITH the "copying files" enabled, with the font being automatically placed in the correct folder.

This method, however, does not retain font name folders as described at the end of Disk structure, above.

Here are the steps:

  1. Identify the folders the font files should be installed to, such as \FontsPS\Bitstream and \FontsPS\Bitstream\PFM.
  2. Set ATM's Settings tab to reflect this. Notice when you type a folder in the top field, the bottom automatically appears the same, only \PFM is appended.
  3. Now do a File > Search, turn OFF the "add without copying files" option, browse to the font, and add it.

ATM will take care of copying the fonts to the right folders for you.

Adding new TrueType fonts

To add to your main library, the steps are the same as the Adding new PostScript fonts heading. But something needs to be said about the Windows Fonts folder.

Microsoft products, being quite invasive, will install fonts for you, like it or not, and they end up in the Fonts folder. For a long time I fought this, and killed them immediately and loaded them via ATM sets that pointed to another directory, namely, C:\FontsTT\Monotype, because sometimes I need to turn them off. But as it turns out, ATM is smart enough to let a font reside in the Fonts folder yet disable it in the registry. In other words, you can leave them there.

Other tools

On the Mac, ATM Deluxe will let you hunt for duplicates, but it's not a feature in the Windows version. For that, I use Typograf (http://www.neuber.com). Note that as you view font samples, it loads each one into memory, and after a while your system may slow to a crawl and you'll need to reboot.