Font Pharos (1999 and beyond) Column Text

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Font and typography related text, extracted from the various issues of "Woody's Office Watch", may be found below. The Font Pharos Reference page, linked above, may be used to more precisely locate matters of comment contained within the material below. This page contains column content from 1999. Column content from 1998 may be found here - Font Pharos Text from 1998

Each new weekly column has been added at the top of the following material.

As from 8 March 1999 the Font Pharos column moved from Woody's Office Watch to Woody's Windows Watch.

Font Pharos column content from issues of WWW after March 1999 are in the WWW Archives

Links in the WWW Archives, both pre and post March 1999 are live.

22 March 1999 Vol 2 No 6 (Woody's Windows Watch)

A couple of columns back (and in another place - WOW issue 4.5) I mentioned version 1.06 of a new font creation program called "Font Creator". Six revisions later the product now stands at version 1.1.1c with much work having taken place. Details of the revisions are given on the Font Creator site. While the current version still lacks in online help I found it easier to move about and edit glyphs in an existing font. We watch the developments with interest.

As a result of playing with the aforesaid Font Creator program I discovered that it had, without warning, installed itself as the default association for TrueType font files. I often use the trick of opening a ttf font with the right mouse button "Open" command in order to (briefly) use that font in a document without doing a full install. To find that the "Open" command fired up Font Creator instead was somewhat annoying. It was even more annoying to find that the default association was not reinstated after using the Font Creator uninstall utility. Should this happen to you, through using any program which changes the normal TrueType open association, simply re-associate Fontview.exe, to be found in the Windows folder, with the .ttf extension. This can be done by going to Windows Explorer | View | Options (or Folder Options) | File Types, then select the "TrueType Font file" registered file type, click on "Edit", then select "Open" and again click on the "Edit" button and finally browse your Windows folder to find Fontview.exe as the "Application used to perform action:". A potentially simpler method is to hold down the shift key when right clicking a true type font file to find the "Open" command and you will find an additional alternative - "Open with.." Browse to find Fontview and check the "Always use this program to open this type of file" box.

Despite there being a zillion or more fonts "out there" I am always on the lookout for fonts which display something more in the way of craftsmanship (or in this case is it craftswomanship?) than a tired old font which has been manipulated by some automatic process and presented as something new.

Michelle Dixon has created a well crafted font which caught my eye - she has called it Beautiful Ink. As shareware she has bundled (for US$20) a six font calligraphic set which includes Arrighi Copybook, Broken Letters, London House, Decorative Italic Initials, Modern Scribe, and Beautiful Ink.

8 March 1999 Vol 2 No 5 (Woody's Windows Watch)

Welcome to my first column in my new home. As most of you know, The Font Pharos has been a long standing part of Woody's Office Watch

Kleptomania was first mentioned in my column on 25 November 1998 (WOW 3.50) when I said "It is a version 1.0 product which deserves to be supported, as it has a particularly valuable use in a fresh new area.". With this nifty product it is possible to capture text data from Windows Explorer and Outlook folder trees, application menus, icon names, as well as dialog and message boxes. Any text you see on the screen can be captured and pasted into your favorite programs.
We have now seen active work on this product which is at version 1.3. Pavel Senatorov has clearly responded to user input to bring us his latest version which has added functions such as word counting to its original premise, if you see some text data on the screen, you can deal with it. StructuRise, a software development start up, is located in Moscow, Russia. It's a small world isn't it? Pavel's site contains quite a bit more information about the product.

The Pyrus \ FontLab folk have released a new utility (which I've not tested, but would expect it to be up to their usual high standard). This one is called TransType™ and is a small Mac application which can convert Type 1 and TrueType fonts between Mac and PC. Unlike other programs of this kind TransType (it is said) does the conversion with full respect to code pages, encoding, font suitcases, bitmap fonts and other features specific to Mac or PC platform. It also allows the conversion of fonts in batch mode (two-way conversion is possible as one operation) and produces absolutely correct fonts. TransType can be used to produce production-quality fonts. And, I see it is only $50! I also note that the same site has a new utility, FONmaker, which is a powerful bitmap font creator which can create Windows screen fonts, Windows font resources, HP Soft Fonts, and BDF font files with it. Not a requirement for all of us, but for those who need such a utility - here it is!

A couple of other updates well worth re-visiting:
Brian Kinkel's Printer's Apprentice is now up to version 7.05.
Peter Theill's FontLister is now up to version 3.4.6.

10 February 1999 Vol 4 No 5 (Woody's Office Watch)

The Internet Type Foundry Index is an ongoing project published by Chris MacGregor to maintain a linked index to the home pages of type foundries and distributors. This index is organised into seven main categories to help you find your way around. They are:

New Additions - Listing's that have been added or updated in the last 30 days.

Distributors - Companies that distribute both their own and other foundries' typefaces.

Commercial Foundries A-L - Companies that design and sell their own typefaces.

Commercial Foundries M-Z - Companies that design and sell their own typefaces.

Other Foundries/Design Firms - Shareware foundries and other firms that design their own typefaces.

Type Designer - Designers who have their own page for their own designs

Type Resources - From software companies to type magazines and organisations, links that should be of interest to type lovers. For the index go to

A new, and at this time cheap, utility to assist you to modify a font or modify characters within a font, can be found at Now at version 1.0.6 Font Creator is a still developing font creation program which has limits at this time. The help text is particularly limited, and while a general tour through the program functions hints of things to come, in current use its most valuable function is perhaps the multiple undo. Toolbar button tool tips give the only clue to some aspects of the program functions. This is one worth watching to see a number of menu and toolbar items described in greater detail. Future functionality of Font Creator is foreshadowed to include, the creation of new .ttf files. Conversion of bitmaps to glyphs with scanning functionality and the inclusion of a Help file and other documentation.

I enjoy it when a real sense of fun permeates the presentation of a web site, and Mary Forrest's Free Font Fiesta site conveys just that atmosphere. Self described as "Fontmonger to the Masses" her site contains a range of free fonts, an extensive list of font related links with the listed locations "reviewed" (or perhaps better to say, commented upon) in a way which will help the font surfer be selective about the next port of call. If you were wondering where to find a font called "Rhoda Dendron" look no further. Go to

Last week I pointed to a "difference" in keystroke behaviour between Symbol fonts and "the rest" and posed the question "Bug or feature?" My thanks to those who took the time to bring their views on this question to my attention. The general thrust of the answers put to me may be summed up by quoting from a message received from WOW friend, Nick FitzGerald, who is Editor of the "Virus Bulletin".

Nick wrote "There is no such thing as a "space character" in a Symbol font! Many Symbol fonts do in fact have a space at the character position conventionally defined as "space" in non-symbol fonts, but there is no guarantee that that position will be occupied with a space - e.g. Adobe's ZapfDingbats has a white "2" on a black circle in the "space" location. Thus a "paragraph" is just a "single word" when set in a symbol font, so the Ctrl-Left/Right keys are working properly! Most interesting though, is that *some* symbol fonts will, in fact still Ctrl-Right, Ctrl-Left as "expected. Using the example above, ZapfDingbats works "as normal" even though the "space" is actually a fairly solid character!"

This may be obvious (wrote Jim S. to me), but when you show your nonprinting characters in a Word document containing Symbols fonts, you will notice that Symbol font spaces are not converted to the nonprintable "dot" character like a non-Symbol font space is. It appears that Symbol font spaces are not at all equivalent to non-Symbol font spaces, but more like a "blank" symbol or a picture of a space.

So we now have it that Type 1 Symbol fonts behave in a different fashion to TrueType Symbol fonts, as (some? all?) Type 1 Symbol fonts respond to the usual keystroke moves. For those of you who are using Woody's Office Power Pack (WOPR) the WOPR View Characters function (used on TrueType "Symbol" font characters) produces some really bizarre ASCII codes, like -3996 when it should have been code 100
for the "d" character. Are you getting confused? Me too!

Then for something even more confusing try this (also brought to my attention by Jim S.) :- If something is typed using a non-Symbol font, it may be converted back and forth between Symbol fonts and non-Symbol fonts. However, if something is typed using a Symbol font, it can only be converted to another Symbol font. Now is that a bug or a feature? Again I'm open to comment, but please, while you are checking all this out don't let it destroy your working day.

Bob A. adds this comment to the topic of showing any font in the Insert Symbol dialogue box - "Just select the font you want to look at in the main Formatting toolbar, then go to the Insert Symbol dialog and select (normal text) in the Font name box. This should display the font in effect at the time the dialog was invoked. To change to a different font, you do have to close the Insert Symbol dialog, change the font and re-enter, but it does work. And don't forget to make use of the Subset selection box that will appear with appropriate fonts." Thanks Bob. By the way - guess what happens when you do this with the Type 1 font ZapfDingbats selected through the formatting toolbar? Absolutely nothing. At least the other Type 1 fonts I tested in this manner do show up, although none of my Type 1 "Symbol" or dingbat fonts will display in the Insert Symbol drop down font list. Why am I not surprised?

That's enough for this week. I'm developing a real dislike for Symbol fonts!

3 February 1999 Vol 4 No 4

I commented on fixed pitch, or monospaced fonts, last issue and subsequently received a message from Paul Neubauer on the subject. Paul has created a vendor-neutral site on the subject where he has written an extensive article on the circumstances and use of monospaced fonts. He has also written his own review on about 2 dozen monospaced fonts from a number of sources, both Freeware and payware. It seems his site is still evolving with even more monospaced fonts to be reviewed, but as I see it Paul has created a very handy resource on a niche subject. Visit Paul's site at and thanks to Paul for bringing this to our attention. Paul has also created a page which contains pointers to design-related information, including technical information on how to execute typographical design on the World Wide Web, as well as to sources for fonts that can be used on the Web and elsewhere. Clearly Paul is a committed student of typography and his page is also well worth a visit.

A reader sought help on creating a text document in which astrological terms were to be used. What was wanted was a way to substitute an astrological symbol for a word, without having to change fonts and use the Numlock key for number codes. The aim can be achieved by making use of Word's AutoCorrect facility, by replacing the chosen symbol with several typed characters to trigger the substitution. The trick is to have the astrological font loaded, choose that font, and then the specific character and insert it into a document - use the insert symbol routine if necessary to find the needed symbol. Having chosen the required character and selected it, go to Tools | AutoCorrect... and you should find that the selected character is in the "With" box to the right of the "Replace" box. More importantly, the button indicating that the replacement will be with "Formatted text" should also be chosen. Decide on the shorthand "word" to trigger the replacement, enter it into the "Replace" box and click on Add at the base of the dialogue box. That's it - next time you type the shorthand trigger and hit the space bar the symbol should appear.

The reader also noted that while Wingdings does contain astrological symbols it has only a very few, far less than what an astrologer needs. For an alternative I suggest a visit to The Dingbat Pages then to the Esoteric section. Look for Astro - a shareware font by Laser Printing Solutions, or Astrological - a Freeware font by Peter Rempel.

The Insert | Symbol dialogue in Word has been discussed from time to time and, to me, it continues to exhibit peculiarities in day to day use. However one of our astute readers (thanks Judith K) points out that you can in fact use the Insert Symbol dialogue box to preview any font and use the character insert features in the normal way. The trick is simply to copy the desired font name into the drop down list box and hit enter. The font name may be copied in by typing it, or by using the time honoured copy and paste, or Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V from the desired font displayed on the formatting tool bar. The moment you scroll away from a font name inserted in this way it will vanish again, so do all that you will with it, at the time.

WOW reader Tim N. has brought to my attention the only font viewing utility he's found (apart from Word's insert symbol dialog) that lets you see ALL of a Unicode font. It's H. Eichman's ListFont, and it's free and may be found at

The Word Keyboard enthusiasts - those who prefer keystroke combinations to "mouse-ing" around - may have run across a peculiar inconsistency when using keystrokes to move about in your Word document. Control-right arrow moves you to the start of the next word and Control-left arrow reverses this procedure, doesn't it? Well sometimes those keystrokes will take you directly to the end of the paragraph (or to the start as the case may be). What is it that determines the difference in behaviour? When Yeshe D. asked me this question I couldn't see why the behaviour would be font specific, but it is! The aberrant behaviour is, as far as I can tell, specific to fonts which have been created and marked as "symbol" fonts, even though they may not be of the dingbat genus. A quick and dirty check on whether a font is marked as a Symbol font is to see if it shows up in the Word | Insert Symbol dialogue box list (although there are some fonts in that list which are not marked as Symbol fonts - and that's another story). I have a number of regular textual character fonts which were created as Symbol fonts and they all exhibit this "funny" behaviour. My question now is (are the Microsofties listening?) is this different keystroke behaviour a bug or a feature? If the latter, I wait with eager anticipation to hear the rationale.

21 January 1999 Vol 4 No 3

You may have read a little about something called ClearType technology. For a more complete exposition on the subject go to The site description includes the following:- "The Genesis of these pages was Microsoft's Comdex announcement of their new breakthrough font rendering technology, dubbed "ClearType". This announcement gave the industry a much needed wake-up call. Although Microsoft mistakenly believed that they had discovered something new, they certainly deserve the credit for helping to bring years of prior display system research and development into the forefront of personal computing practice." In particular that site has a download demo of what is called 'sub pixel technology" - Free&clear.exe, which provides a quick and very visual explanation of how it works. Worth a look!

I am asked from time to time for information on fixed pitch fonts - that is those fonts which can be used in a document to line up columns of figures, and so on, without wrecking the appearance of the page (and without having to resort to using tables or decimal tabs). Aside from the obvious "Courier", try the range of fixed space fonts at the Scriptorium site at

FontShow 3.0 is a small but slick TrueType font viewer created by Gregory Braun of Software Design and may be found at The index page of Software Design is also worth a visit as Gregory has created a series of small utilities which captured my attention, and perhaps yours if you take a look. The index is at

The inexpensive font creation package "Softy" has been mentioned in this column in the past (WOW Volume 3 No 34). If you are interested there is a neat online tutorial outlining the use of "Softy" at This tutorial covers such things as Basics, Ascenders, Kerning, Scanned, Freehand, Using Antialias, Points, Spacing, Vertical Fonts, and so on. This is the place to go for Softy information.

13 January 1999 Vol 4 No 2

Shedding some light on the mysterious world of fonts. Comments or questions? Seek out Peter McDonell, 'The Font Pharos' direct

ZDNet Computing magazine PC Computing has an interesting area called "1001 Tips and Tricks" which in turn has a subsection called "Take Control of Fonts". This is recommended reading, and I'm not just saying that because it was contributed by Woody and Peter [Hi Boss!!], but because of its content - go to,5730,369559,00.html

PC Magazine releases various free utilities from time to time. In particular, FontViewer and FNTPRN are worth a look. FontViewer can be found at

and FNTPRN at

The interesting aspect of FontViewer is it's ability to sort your fonts by using filters to show only your choice of Serif or Sans Serif or Script or Fixed Space or Decorative and other font styles. FNTPRN provides a simple interface to create and print a font catalogue comprising your choices of the filter alternatives mentioned above, along with regular, bold, italic and bold italic variants. Under Win95 and Win98 FNTPRN will launch WordPad and the vehicle for composing the catalogue.

All of a sudden the Euro has taken front page and the Euro symbol is being seen and used in financial circles. By way of recap, we note that the Euro has been the subject of Font Pharos comment on a number of occasions. WOW Volume 3 Issues 3 Nos 25, 37, 49, 50 and 53 all contain comment on the Euro. Go to for the Font Pharos archives. The insert symbol routine provides the route to the simplest way, in my view, to insert a Euro symbol. If the typeface being used has been updated to include the Euro symbol (and if not go to for update information) then using Alt-e to insert the Euro symbol could not be easier.

And a belated award to one of the most helpful support folk I have had the pleasure to deal with - Rico Davis at American Megatrends (the AMIDiag people). If only all the people I contact across the web had Rico's attitude the world would be a better place (OK so this is nothing to do
with fonts, but I just had to say that to give my start to 1999 a good feeling).

YET ANOTHER FONT SOURCE is the location of yet another (well organised) font sourcing site. "Fonts & Things" claims to provide a collection of the most unusual fonts online. In particular a number of its pages have fonts cleverly arranged by theme or subject such as Classic Designs, Cool, Fire & Ice, Futuristic, Graffiti, Grunge, Handwritten, Hardlines, Hard to Read, Outlines, Spooky, Stylized Designs, Trendy Designs and Waves. A lot of nice fonts, and some you wouldn't want to be in the same room with, but all in all well worth the visit.

Finally I note that Printers Apprentice 7.0 has now been released after going through quite a long beta gestation period. PA has been around for years and this latest release is worth a visit. I have registered this one a couple of times over its development lifetime, and used it to print out a number of the font catalogues I still use as references. Go to for more information.