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Trying to Combine All Weights & Widths Into One Family

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Lincoln Jones's picture
Joined: 16 May 2008 - 2:02pm
Trying to Combine All Weights & Widths Into One Family


I work as an in-house designer, and I'm trying to standardize our font library. There are many fonts that have multiple weights and widths that show up individually as families, instead of all in one family with the weights/widths as styles.

I've read the guide from the now-offline FontLab group on MSN, but I don't like the end result. It works fine in Adobe Illustrator, but in font management programs (I'm using FontExpert) the subcategories (FontName Med Cnd) show up in the lists, instead of only the family name. I would already have given up, but I've seen a font that has 7 different weights (exceeding Windows' limit of 4) plus an italic for each that showed up as one family in both Illustrator and FontExpert. I've been able to replicate this partially, but won't work when you add in the variable of condensed/compressed fonts.

I did a test to see how the data in the FontLab font info fields is interpreted by both Illustrator and FontExpert, and was a little surprised. I put the name of the field into each field. (Family Name: FamilyName, Style Name: StyleName, etc.) In FontExpert, only the FamilyName showed up, but in Illustrator, I found the font under FullName, with the default style being OTStyleName. (from the open-type specific page) However, when I opened FontLab up again, and looked at the fields, Menu Name wasn't MenuName anymore, it had been switched to FamilyName. I tried to change it back, and it wouldn't stick. Also, after clearing all the open-type specific fields, the Style Name showed up as StyleName in Illustrator, as expected.

So my head hurts from thinking about all of this. I thought I'd check with you experts to see if it can be done before giving up and dealing with multiple families in font management.

Andreas Höfeld's picture
Joined: 12 Jul 2009 - 11:03am

The first thing to do is check your font license :-)

Blank's picture
Joined: 25 Sep 2006 - 2:15pm

Theoretically you can do what you want with OpenType naming if all fonts have the same OpenType Family Name and you make the weights part of the style name. That doesn’t mean software is going to play well with your OCD font naming system because it’s not how sane people do it and software tends to expect naming to be rather conventional.

I recommend that you just do not do this. Font naming can get really ugly when it doesn’t work well, and there are good reasons for font designers breaking the widths up into their own families. It’s also going to be a real problem if you ever need to do work with outside designers as almost no font license allows you to distribute modified fonts to users outside of your organization.