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- Using a document's history to work through problems
- Creating a test user account to check for conflicts with other user settings
- Round-tripping a file to work out specific issues
- Locating and disabling third-party plug-ins to reset InDesign
Skill Level Intermediate
So, testing for corrupt or damaged or bad or duplicate fonts. Now, that is definitely an extremely difficult task in InDesign and I think that an entire video title could be devoted to diagnosing font problems. But they definitely are a contributing cause to some kinds of problems with InDesign files and I'll tell you what I know and how I usually diagnose font problems. First of all, if the problem is having to do when you are outputting type, such as when you are printing or when you are exporting to PDF, and you know it's not an image, like perhaps your document has no images, then it is very likely a font problem. Now let me tell you some places to get information about your typefaces used.
I am sure that you know already that when you open up an InDesign document, if you go to the Type menu and choose Find Fonts, it lists all of the typefaces used in your document. But what you might not know is that when you click More Info and then select one of the fonts used, you get a lot more information. And this can help, for example, if you think that you may be suffering from having duplicate fonts installed, like both the OpenType and the type one version of the same fonts installed. And when that happens then InDesign will show partial families being available for each font rather than the full family. It gets kind of confusing.
And you are really not supposed to have duplicate families installed and active at the same time. So you can tell whether it being pulled from by selecting the font name up here and then looking under More Info and looking at the path. So you can see that this is being pulled from the System/Library/Fonts/ACaslon Pro. And if I choose Myriad Pro, the same thing is true. It's being pulled from the system library. If it was being pulled from a normal user account, from the Anne-Marie Concepcion User Home account, then you would see a little tilde in front of here.
Or if it was being pulled from any generic folder, because I was using a font management program like Suitcase or FontExplorer, then you would just see the path to that folder. And knowing where is the font stored will help you to track it down in Windows Explorer or the Finder in order to replace it with a different version or to remove it. You can also see how many characters use that typeface and in how many styles it's used. Now one way to diagnose to see if the problem with the document has to do with the fonts is to basically strip out all the fonts in a copy of the document. So you do a Save As of the document, like this Choco catalog, and then I'm just going to go ahead and close the Info panel because I don't need that anymore.
Take every single font and replace it with something else and make sure you turn on Redefine Style when changing all, because that way it will also take it out of any Paragraph Styles or Character Styles that call for that typeface, which can also affect how a document interacts with typefaces. So I would just say Change All and when it has changed a font called in a style, you will get this little dialog box. You can turn on Don't show again if you like. If the font wasn't called for in any style then you won't get that alert. So just go through every single one and choose Change All. Of course you are doing this to a copy, right? And then click Done and then try printing it and exporting it to PDF.
Now if you are not having any problems, then you know the problem was one of those original fonts that you had installed. And in that case, you can use the same binary system that I described in my diagnosing corrupt images or bad images lesson, which is to get rid of half of the fonts and then test and then get rid of the half of the second half of the fonts and test, and so on. If you are using a third party font management utility, probably what I would do even before going to the drastic step of getting rid of every font and then copying the document to test, would be to simply quit out of InDesign and go to the Finder or Windows Explorer. And in the Application folder get rid of the third party plug-in that controls auto activation. Just select the name of the InDesign application folder and then in there, select the Plug-ins folder and you should see a folder called Suitcase Fusion or FontExplorer or whatever kind of third party program you have that does auto activation.
I have heard and I have seen it for myself that just turning-off Auto Activation in the Programs Utility menu does not do enough. You actually have to remove it from the Plug-ins folder and put it on your desktop or elsewhere on your hard drive and then restart InDesign. And you would also want to go to the manufacturer's website to see if you have the latest version of that auto activation plug-in, because sometimes those go through incremental patch fixes. So make sure that you are completely up-to-date with any auto activation plug-ins or any font management plug-ins.
Speaking of font management plug-ins, you should know that if you are having repeated problems with duplicate fonts or corrupt fonts, there are a few software programs that can help you. For example, a font management program like Suitcase is available for both Windows and under the name Fusion 2 for the Macintosh. Both of these are created by the company called Extensis. They are very well known. They are not required. You know, if you have a lot of fonts that you use in your design work you don't need a font management program. Both Windows and the Macintosh have built-in font management.
Now just because you have a lot of fonts that you are using in your design projects, doesn't mean that you have to have a third party font management program. But having one does come with a lot of benefits and one of them is having that Auto Activation, which means that every time that you open up an InDesign document, if you don't have the fonts that it requires activated, then the font management program will silently and in the background activate them for you. So you never get the dialog box that says you have a missing font. But in my experience if there is an issue with fonts in an InDesign document, the very first thing I would probably look at would be the auto activation plug-in.
See if removing that or updating it fixes the problem. Now if you think the problem is corrupt fonts or for example you ran through that routine of replacing every font with one default system font and that fixed the problem, then you might want to get a font utility that can search for and fix corrupt fonts and font caches. If you purchased one of these products from Extensis, the product called FontDoctor comes with it. But you don't have to own an Extensis product to get FontDoctor. It is available separately as you can see and it runs in both Macintosh and Windows. It is, as they call it, the ultimate repair tool.
Now there are other font repair utilities. Some are free, some come from third party companies like this one, from Insider Software called Smasher, but this one is only available for Mac OS X. These are all worthy of investigation if you think that you are suffering from font problems. Sometimes you can solve font problems, corrupt fonts and things like that, on your own. I went to Adobe's website and just looked up 'fonts troubleshooting' and you can see it came up with a few good hits for troubleshooting font issues on Mac OS X and then further down there is one for troubleshooting font issues in Windows.
But if you post a question about that you are having troubles with fonts and corrupt fonts and duplicate fonts on one of the InDesign forums or mailing lists, very often people will refer you to this section of the Adobe Knowledge Base article on troubleshooting fonts, which is to search through your system for this file called AdobeFnt.lst and then delete all of them that are found. You will see that sometimes they end with different numbers. Then you restart the computer and restart InDesign and what that does is force InDesign to create a new font database. Sometimes that fix does the trick.
So if you can't memorize how to do it, just go to the Adobe website and look for 'troubleshooting fonts' and you will come with the knowledge base article that lists this out. Finally, if you are on a Macintosh, where fonts are-- though they are easier to deal with, they can be more complicated than on Windows because there are just so many places where you can store fonts in the Mac. I highly recommend one of the Take Control books about working with fonts in the Leopard operating system. They have Take Control of Fonts, then they have Take Control of Font Problems. Two separate E-books that you can purchase for a very low cost, and you can get 20% off if you buy them both.
All right, I don't work for Take Control, but it's a great company and this book is huge and covers it from soup to nuts, so it's a good resource to have. Anyway, out of all the problems that you may suffer with an InDesign document, because just about every InDesign document uses typefaces, it is one of the first places to look to see if there is an issue and unfortunately it's one of the knottiest to solve. So a good idea is to practice safe fonting from the get-go. And for that, you need to have either a font management utility or a lot of knowledge about how fonts are stored on your computer.