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If you're an experienced designer, you already probably have your favorite fonts, or you at least in your mind have a pretty good understanding about which fonts might work for a particular application. So you know what they look like. However, we are adding new fonts all the time. It's funny I have a bumper sticker that says, "Whoever dies with the most fonts wins." As designers, we're always looking for that edge. We want to find that unique typeface that no one else has and that works just perfectly for a particular type application or a logo. The problem though is that sometimes we are looking for some kind of inspiration and we need a way to quickly identify what a typeface looks like.
Of course, we can go through printed book specimens and see what those typefaces look like. But if I come here to Illustrator and I create a new document and I go ahead and I take a look at the Type menu and I see where it says Font, I see a list of all my fonts, but you will notice that on my computer all of my fonts are listed not only by their names, but the fonts are actually listed in the typeface itself. This is Arial Black. This is Arial Narrow, this is Bernard MT Condensed, and this is Bickham Script Pro. Why am I seeing these typefaces in the fonts themselves? It's because I have a preference set for that.
I am going to go over here to where it says Illustrator, I am going to choose Preferences, and then Type. If you are on Windows, you will find Preferences underneath the Edit menu. And you can see over here where it says Font Preview, the Size is currently set to Medium. I just want to show you if I turn this setting off and I click OK, now when I go to the Type menu, I will see all the fonts listed simply by their names. It's not in the typeface itself. Now if your computer doesn't have that much processing power, you will find it a lot easier to scroll through a list where the fonts are not being previewed themselves here are inside of this menu.
But I found that most modern computers now are able to calculate and preview these fonts without any issue. In fact, that's why there is a preference to turn them off. Although sometimes I'll tell you that it can be somewhat distracting when you have all the fonts themselves listed in their own typefaces. So if you know by memory what these all look like anyway, it might be faster to scroll through this list. However, if I go back into the preference over here and I'll choose Type again, and I'll turn the Font Preview on, you will see that I have the ability to have Small, Medium, or Large previews.
If I choose Large Preview, I'll get a much better look at what these fonts look like. But you can see here there is a pause while Illustrator goes ahead and generates the previews for each of these. Now where this starts to break down also, is when you have typefaces that are really meant for graphics and not for letters. Like, for example, what typeface is this right over here? I don't know the name of that typeface, but it's some kind of what we call a picture font, that has different types of pictures inside of it that can be uses as a font. So, for example, Zapf Dingbats might look the same way. I am unable to see what the name looks like; I just see what all those characters are.
It's important to realize that Illustrator won't show you these previews in every case. This is why I will many times leave this setting on, because I do want to want to be able to go in and maybe I just installed the new font or maybe I just want to get inspired and scroll down the list and see what might kind of tickle my fancy when working with type. Or if I go over here to where I go to the Window menu and I choose, at the bottom over here Type, and I choose Character, it open up my Character panel. If I choose a Typeface from here, you'll also see that the Previews show up in this menu.
But here's the interesting thing. If I'm using my Type tool and I have some type active, which means that now I will see the different fonts available inside of my Control panel, if I click on this, even though my preference is set to display the fonts inside of this menu with a preview, when I am using this specific menu here inside the Control panel, it will never display with that preview. It will always shown me just the actual names of the typefaces here. So I find that when I'm working, if I feel that I need to have some kind of a preview, I would choose a font from the Type menu or from the Character panel.
But if I know in my head exactly what I want to get to, I might go ahead and just choose this list over here, directly from the Control panel, and scroll directly to find my font. I will tell you though that if I have had to say the word Hello over here, for example, I have some text and I go ahead and I highlight it, if you're on a PC or a Windows computer, you can click in this field and with your cursor now active in this field, you can press the Up and Down arrows on your keyboard to cycle through the different fonts. And as you do so, you will see the font changing here on your artboard.
So if you just want to say, hey, what does my word look like in different typefaces? You can actually just highlight this field and use the Up and Down arrow. For some reason, and I don't know why, it doesn't work on a Mac. So on a Mac there is no easy way to actually preview what your words look like as you are working with it. In either case, now you know how to find the previews for typefaces when you're using them inside them Illustrator's font menus.
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