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What's my Font?

by George M Engel

old MacsI remember transitioning from my old loaded Apple II to the first Mac 128. There were those old bit-mapped fonts and I used every one of them to do my first Newsletter... on the front page. Then when I bought my first Laserwriter with all four postscript fonts, but Thirteen font faces, I used all thirteen... on the front page. Because I could! Boy, it must have looked like crap! Typesetters were throwing up for weeks when they saw that.

But those were the days of the desktop typesetting revolution. Macs and Laserwriters. God's answer to make Adobe and Apple rich, and the rest of us, happier than ever thought possible. It brought communication production possible to the masses.

Today I only use Open Type* fonts, when I make cross-platform pdf's or PowerPoint Presentation slides. Why? Because Open Type is cross platform and machine independent. I tried using a True Type font once in a presentation, only to discover that the machine I borrowed for the Presentation didn't have that font installed. Whoops! Dancing quickly, I used that in my presentation, showing how important fonts are. Now, if I know I have to borrow a computer, I either bring all my fonts with me on a little USB Memory card, or I use the old standby, Times New Roman and Helvetica; good for both Macs and PC's. Hey, you never know which audience you're performing for. I have both Mac and PC at home, which I use for different purposes. Adobe's software is the same on both platforms, so that shouldn't make a difference to any designer, thank goodness.

My favorite font?

Out of my many tens of thousands? One has to be kidding, right? This past year I'm using Garamond Premier Pro, Open-Type, as my favorite for my newsletters because it's real clean and readable. Also, my audience is mostly 40 years and older. The Headline font which I've been looking to use for the past ten years is 'Dwellers,' a real fun font. Unfortunately, I'm still looking for the right place. Take a look at that one; cute as the dickens. (My headline above is set in "Dwellers" which you can download here!)

favorite fonts

Another Open Type face I like is Poetica, when I'm in a cursive mood, or the True-Type Scriptina for a whimsical cursive mood. Of course, if I'm writing for the government, local or federal, one must use their government-issue Times and Helvetica. For personal letters, I use my old standby Souvenir. It's a warm and friendly font for my personal touch. I like to sign it with a Postscript handwritten signature, whenever possible. I use a Wacom Tablet for those kinds of things.

My font peeves?

Now you really lit my fire. I have a short fuse on that one! Editing newsletters for 25 years does something to the mind. I can't look at a billboard, a book, or an advertisement without scanning for typos, kerning and just bad typeface usage. I had an Emergency Room treatment, and while in pain, I complained to the ER Staff about all 8 typos, 10 kerning* errors and poor typeface usage on their Emergency Room Wall poster showing how 'Great' their treatment room facility was. It really gets in your blood (no pun intended.) So yes, I get really excited when I see poor type choices and bad type design today. I believe that fewer people read today than in the past, so the use of graphics are the 'grabber,' or 'hook,' rather than clever typeface design, unfortunately.

I now use InDesign exclusively for my Newsletters, letters and whatever. It's just as easy to use as MS Word, and I can always throw in a Picture if needed, and then save the whole thing as a PDF, which brings in the font I'm using. It doesn't make a difference if they don't have the font; it's in the PDF. It will always look good! I like to think of my choice of Font Face as a personal thing; sort of like...

here's looking at you, kid! From me, to you!

The Naked ServicemanGeorge Engel

About the author: George Engel has been a computer guru probably longer than he will admit -- as a computer expert, he authored The Naked Serviceman book, about his journey through the history of Apple's Macintosh as owner/founder of an authorized Apple Service Center. (Available from Amazon, or LuLu) He owned one of the first Apple II computers as well as one of the first Macintosh 128s. He started out with the Upstate Apple Users Group somewhere in upstate New York, and now hangs out with the 'Lakeland Mac Users Group' in Lakeland, FL.


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