Microsoft Word font menu preview for a Symbol font

andyclymer's picture

I'm currently developing a set of Symbol/Alternate Glyph fonts and have a question regarding the font preview in the font menu in Microsoft applications on the Macintosh. I'm creating the font in FontLab 4.6, generating the fonts as PostScript with the Macintosh Roman encoding for the Macintosh version of the font, and I'm testing the font in Word 2004.

Since the font is non-alphabetic, I would like the font name in the menu to substitute to a default font instead of displaying the font's name set as a font preview.

From a FontLab forum thread I found that setting the "Microsoft Character Set" to "Symbol" in the "Encoding and Unicode" section of the Font Info does exactly what I want it to do in Windows but not on the Macintosh. I've also tried setting the PANOSE description of the family kind to "Latin Symbol" but this changed nothing.

The odd thing is that in Word for the Mac, several other alphabetic font names (Apple Chancery, Bauhaus, Zapfino) are shown as a default font in the preview and I'm not able to find out how they could be tagged to do this by looking around through the font in FontLab.

Can anyone explain how Microsoft Word on the Mac decides whether or not to use a default font for the font menu name rather than display the font's name as a preview?

Thanks!
-- Andy

Si_Daniels's picture

> Can anyone explain how Microsoft Word on the Mac decides whether or not to use a default font for the font menu name rather than display the font’s name as a preview?

As I recall Mac Office uses a hardcoded list.

Si

andyclymer's picture

Thanks Simon, I'll trust that as an official Microsoft response. Much appreciated!

Si_Daniels's picture

>I’ll trust that as an official Microsoft response

In that case I'll direct the relevent Mac Office people to the thread for confirmation ;-)

Cheers, Si

Si_Daniels's picture

Hi, the Mac Office people confirmed that they do have a hard-coded list. In their defence I think detecting symbol encoded fonts on the Mac has never been straight-forward.

The list doesn't however include the three non-symbol fonts listed (Apple Chancery, Bauhaus, or Zapfino) but apparently they are treated this way because their WYSIWYG appearance would be too tall (18 pixels).

Cheers, Si

andyclymer's picture

Thanks, your responses have been really helpful.

...but apparently they are treated this way because their WYSIWYG appearance would be too tall (18 pixels)

Hmm, this is kinda what I was looking for, maybe I can try to trick Word into using the default font.

-- Andy

Randy's picture

This may be an ugly suggestion, but... given that this IS a symbol font, can you hide the glyphs required for the name in the font somewhere and name it ÅÍÎÔÓÒ? Alternatively you could drop the entire name in the ± glyph and just call the font ±. The disadvantage is that it might be part of a family of fonts that you want to appear all together... in that case good luck with the above 18px hack.

Re: 18px hack
Would "too tall" be defined in the Key Dimensions dialogue box, or by the actual curves when rendered?

Randy

andyclymer's picture

Randy --

I think that could be a good way to get it to look good in Word on the Mac but giving it an unreadable name may cause more problems considering the fact that the applications the fonts will most likely be used in (InDesign, Quark, etc.) all display the name without a preview. I figure it's probably best to just leave it as-is.

Re: 18px hack
A few quick attempts to trick Word into using a default font were unsuccessful, I was able to get glyphs in the WYSIWYG preview to overflow into the font names above and below in the list so there must be something more to it. I'll let you know if I find anything else.

-- Andy

Randy's picture

Fixing the leak and causes a flood. Good point.
Maybe Si can give you more specifics.

Good luck.

Si_Daniels's picture

Best bet would be to look at the trick'n fonts in question and check out their metrics, try to find the value that fools Word.

Si

John Hudson's picture

Well I know that the trick in Zapfino is that the hhea table vertical metrics are designed to clear the tallest glyph, which is a huge swash variant f. We discussed metrics at some length with Apple when we were making the font, and they decided that although this would result in bizarrely huge interlinear spacing even when the taller variants were not used, this was preferable to clipping of those variants. After the first version of Zapfino was shipped, the Apple font folk got a lot of complaints both internally and from users, that the font looked small compared to other fonts. This is because the x-height is so small relative to the regular extender length, which we wanted to correspond fairly closely to the em height (left at the 1000 units of the PS source fonts, since we wanted to avoid outline rounding errors in converting everything to the more common TrueType em of 2048). The height of the font's extenders were actually pretty similar to the average font, but Zapfino appeared much smaller because the x-height was tiny in comparison. When we made the second version -- for which Hermann completely redesigned the entire typeface for what must have been the third or fourth time -- we kept the same metrics as the first version so that this, at least, would remain the same for users. But very late in the project, Apple suddenly decided that they wanted the whole font to look larger, so that the x-height would be closer to that of other fonts, and so avoid the complaints they had received about the small size. Their remarkable solution to this was to leave the outlines and hhea metrics exactly as they were already, and simply to change the upm value from 1000 to 400. Of course, this means that relative to other fonts the extenders are now huge.

This is why the Apple version of Zapfino will not fit in the Word menu. Probably more than you wanted to know, but I like this sort of story.

So you can't trick the Word menu into displaying the font name in regular text without also making your font behave in some weird ways in applications, e.g. giving it huge interlinear spacing.

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