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Fonts – Signage 101

Sometimes creating signage can be stressful. At Signs.com, we want to make the process as hassle-free as possible. Font issues can be one of the most common sources of headaches when designing signage. If fonts aren’t created correctly, you can end up with a sign that doesn’t look anything like what you pictured. With this Signage 101 post, we will be simplifying the confusing world of fonts.

WHY DO FONTS MATTER?  

A font is an electronic file containing characters, glyphs, and/or symbols. Each computer is equipped with a certain set of fonts, stored on the hard drive of the computer. Technically, they are stored as either TrueType files or OpenType files, readable by the computer as a static line of dots on a page. Fonts can be resized proportionally by changing the font size on your computer.

 

Examples of different font sizes
Fonts can be scaled in proportion to the size they were created.

 

However, fonts can vary from computer to computer. When a file gets opened on a new computer, the computer searches for the corresponding font. If the new computer doesn’t have that particular font, it attempts to find similar font to use as a substitute. Often, this leads to issues with spacing and placement of the letters.

 

Example of font related issues
This is an example of a computer substituted font. The replaced font has issues
with spacing and the placement of the letters.

 

HOW CAN I AVOID FONT ISSUES?

Fonts can be fickle. The best way to ensure your fonts come out looking great is to convert them from fonts into “outlines”. Outlining the fonts changes the fonts from, well, fonts, into drawings. We’ll spare you the mathematical details, but outlining the fonts makes the file universally readable on any computer, whether or not the computer has the font used. Instead of reading the font as sets of dots that make up a letter, the computer reads the file as a group of dots based on a mathematical algorithm.

The text in an outlined font can’t be edited because it is no longer a font. Therefore, before you outline your fonts, be sure the text is exactly as you’d like it to be. Alternatively, save two files – one that is still editable and one that is ready for printing.

 

HOW DO I OUTLINE FONTS?

Fonts can be easily outlined in any Adobe Suite program. It is also possible to outline fonts in Microsoft Word.

Outlining Fonts in Adobe Illustrator

If you are working in Adobe Illustrator, follow these simple steps to outline your fonts.

  1. Select your font using the selection tool. Depending on your version of Adobe Illustrator, you can select more than one line of text at a time.
  2. In the menu bar, select “Type” then select “Create Outlines”. The computer will then turn everything you have selected into an outline.
  3. Follow these steps for each line of your text. The computer denotes outlined fonts with dots around the edges of the letters. Dots only denote the edge of each of the lines on the computer and will not be printed.

For more information, watch our short video regarding outlining fonts in Adobe Illustrator.

 

Outlining Fonts in Adobe InDesign

If you are working in Adobe InDesign, follow these simple steps to outline your fonts.

  1. Select your font using the selection tool.
  2. In the menu bar, select “Type” then select “Create Outlines”. The computer will then turn everything you have selected into an outline.
  3. Follow these steps for each line of your text. The computer denotes outlined fonts with a dashed line around the edge of the outlined text.

For more information, watch our short video regarding outlining fonts in Adobe InDesign.

 

Rasterizing Fonts in Adobe Photoshop

If you are working in Adobe Photoshop, follow these simple steps to outline your fonts. Photoshop is a little different from the other two Adobe design programs. Instead of converting the fonts to outlines, you must “rasterize” the fonts so that they are changed into pixels.

  1. Select the text layer in the Photoshop file.
  2. In the menu bar, select “Type” then select “Rasterize Type Layer”. The computer will then turn everything you have selected into a rasterized layer, making it readable by all computer operating systems.
  3. Follow these steps for each line of your text. The computer denotes rasterized fonts with a line around the edge of the outlined text.

For more information, watch our short video regarding rasterizing fonts in Adobe Photoshop.

 

Outlining Fonts in Microsoft Word

If you are using Microsoft Word to create your design, you can easily embed your fonts to make the document compatible with any computer.

  1. In the menu bar, click the “File” tab and select the “Options” button near the bottom of the list.
  2. In the Options pop-up menu, select the “Save” button.
  3. The very bottom of the “Save” options shows a checkbox for “Embed fonts in the file”. Check the box to ensure that the file gets saved correctly.
  4. Save the file as a PDF file. Signs.com does not accept Word files for printing. Saving the file as a PDF also ensures the fonts will be saved correctly.

For a tutorial, watch our quick video about outlining fonts in Microsoft Word.

If you don’t have access to these programs or if your file was created using a different program, just contact us or use our free design services to help with your design! We can take a look at the files for you and see what we can do. In most cases, we are able to help you create a print-ready file.

 

HOW CAN I TELL IF MY FONTS ARE OUTLINED?

If you’re using our online design tool to create your fonts, they are already outlined for you when you create your sign.

Signs.com Design Tool Example
Text created by the Signs.com Design Tool

If you’re uploading a file you’ve created, the quickest way to tell if you have a font issue is to click the “View Proof” button in our design tool on the website. Font issues are usually quickly apparent.

Font Outlined Example from Signs.com
Fonts that are outlined will be displayed correctly on the website.
Non-outlined font example from Signs.com
Fonts that are not coming through correctly will be replaced with a different, standard computer font.

Before you purchase your sign, be sure to click the “View Proof” button. No file type is immune to font issues, so be sure to view your proof before you continue with your purchase. Please be aware that if there are issues with the fonts in your design, it may result in additional time for the completion of your order.

As always, the Signs.com team is here to help you with any questions you have about your signs. If you need help with fonts or with any other aspect of your sign, please contact us! We also offer free design services, if you need help with your files or your sign design.