Join Mike Rankin for an in-depth discussion in this video Avoiding problems with faux bold and italic, part of Font Management Essential Training.
- Whenever you're working with text, you'll come across situations where you need to make something bold or italic, and of course, most applications offer you handy buttons or keyboard shortcuts for this purpose. But you need to be cautious using those things, because sometimes, they can yield inconsistent and unexpected results. Let's take a look. Here, I'm in Adobe InDesign, and in my document, I have a bunch of samples of Helvetica using type one postscript, true type, and open type fonts. Let's apply bold to them and see the results that we get.
First, I'll make a copy of the top text frame, via Option or alt dragging across, just so we can see the before and after effects. With the frame selected, I can apply the bold command to all the text in it by pressing Cmd-Shift-B here on the Mac, or Ctrl-Shift-B on Windows. And what I get is almost completely unexpected. If I put my cursor in here, I can see the fonts, and Helvetica Type One Light is now Helvetica Black. The Type One Medium became bold, okay.
The bold remained bold, and the black remained black. Now, let's apply the command again. I'll press Esc to select the frame, and press Cmd-Shift-B. What I end up with is, both the blacks now became Helvetica Type One Light, and the bold stays stuck at bold. So, it's like a one-way street. There's no getting back to the original four fonts I had without undoing and manually applying those fonts again. Let's try the same experiment for the True Type Helvetica Neue.
I'll option or alt drag to make a new copy of the frame, press Cmd-Shift-B, and now all four fonts are switched to Helvetica Neue Bold. Very strange, apply the command again to see if we can undo, and now they're all Helvetica Neue Light. Okay, how about our open type fonts? Let's see if those do any better. I'll make a copy of the text frame, press Cmd-Shift-B, and nothing happens. It's almost like the developers of this font said, "Let's avoid all the confusion and fix the problem "by forcing the user to manually apply "the fonts that they want." All right, let's try our experiment again, and this time, we'll use the keyboard shortcut to apply italic, Cmd-Shift-I on the Mac, Ctrl-Shift-I on Windows.
I'll delete these frame, make copies of the originals, and press Cmd-Shift-I. The Type One fonts did pretty much what you'd expect. The Light became Light Oblique, the Medium became Medium Oblique, Bold became Bold Oblique, but the Type One Black just stayed Type One Black. Let's select the frame and apply the shortcut again, and it unid the italic for the Light and the Bold, but the Medium stayed stuck in italic. Now, let's look at our True Type fonts. They didn't fare quite so well.
Most of them became Helvetica Neue Light Italic, and the Bold became Bold Italic. Now, let's check our Open Type fonts, and again, nothing happened to these when I pressed the keyboard shortcut. Now, these are the kind of mixed results I get in InDesign, where the application won't allow you to apply formatting that doesn't correspond to a real font, but you can get into even more trouble in Microsoft Word, where the application will simulate fonts that don't exist when you apply fake bold or italic.
If I switch over to Word, and here I have four samples of Helvetica Neue, ranging from Ultra Light to Bold. I'll copy those, paste, select them all, and press the Bold button. Now, the text appears bolder, but if I select one of the fonts and check the font menu, scroll down to find my Helveticas, and look in the submenu, none of the fonts here is selected.
That's because there's no such thing, in this case, as Helvetica Neue Ultra Light Bold. Let's see what happens if I save this file and try to place it in InDesign. I'll save, switch over to InDesign, I'll go to a new page, and press Cmd or Ctrl-D to place. Place my file, and I get a warning that some fonts substitutions will occur for the nonexistent fonts that Word sort of made up. I'll click OK, replace the text, and if I select it, remember, it was these four samples down here that I applied the fake bold to, I can see that all four fonts are now Helvetica Neue Bold.
So, you can see that you just can't always predict what fonts you'll end up with in your documents when you use shortcuts for bold and italic. The bottom line is, for best results, you need to use styles that manually apply the fonts that you want, or at least use the font menus in your applications to manually select fonts, and be careful with those bold and italic shortcuts.
- What is a font?
- TrueType, PostScript, and OpenType fonts
- Web fonts and SVG fonts
- Finding fonts
- Buying fonts
- Fixing font problems
- Adding and removing fonts on Mac and Windows
- Using Font Book for font management on Mac
- Using other font management software
- Managing fonts with Suitcase Fusion
- Working with fonts in InDesign and Illustrator
- Creating fonts on the iPad and InDesign