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What is the best way for font developers to safely ignore Panose?
"Any" or "No Fit"?
"Any" is the default that means the font has not been classified, so that's what you want. Yeah, it could be more clearly named.
"No Fit" means that the font does not fit within any of the available categories.
I found this on panose.com:
1.5 Digit values of 0 and 1
The reader will notice that the value 0 and 1 are defined as Any and No Fit for every digit in the PANOSE system. These have specific meanings to the mapper. 0 means match that digit with any available digit. This allows the mapper to handle distortable typefaces such as multiple master fonts in which, for example, weights may be variable or serifs may change. 1 means that the item being classified does not fit within the present system.
Therefore I use value 1 for 'not classified'.
BTW, it is really necessary to fill up these PANOSE fields or nowadays it is not so important?
Apparently if you do attempt to fill in the values, and get it wrong, that can screw up font menu behavior.
As the terminology is so bizarre and non-typographic, it's probably best for type designers to only enter "Any" or "No Fit".
FontLab--at least my installation on Windows Vista--attempts to fill in Panose numbers on its own, with mixed success. The default for weight appears to be Book, no matter the font, but Proportion, Contrast, and x-Height are usually more or less correct. Fontographer 5, on the other hand, gives you Any straight across the board...
I've been using the PANOSE guide available in the book 'Fonts and encodings' (http://www.amazon.com/Fonts-Encodings-Yannis-Haralambous/dp/0596102429) which I found quite useful and descriptive. However, trying to figure out each field is an activity I wouldn't be sad to leave.
Nick: As the terminology is so bizarre and non-typographic, it's probably best for type designers to only enter "Any" or "No Fit".
That's certainly better than trying to guess at correct settings based on the terminology. The terminology should simply be ignored, because Panose is actually a system of measurement, which the terminology obscures. The only way to set correct Panose values is to actually conduct the measuring and relevant calculations for each value. A number of foundries have made custom tools to automatically calculate Panose values; it would be nice to see something like this added to tools like FontLab. The few times when a client has specifically requested that we include accurate Panose information in a font, I have done the measurements and calculations manually using the documentation now available at www.panose.com