Question from an absolute layman (translator, not DTP pro): what do you replace missing fonts with?
Thread poster: Artem Vakhitov

Artem Vakhitov  Identity Verified
Estonia
English to Russian
+ ...
Jan 21

Recently, with the development of PDF tools like Infix and FlexiPDF, prospects have emerged for offering services in addition to translation that can be described as "light DTP", "not-quite-DTP", or "DTP evasion". The most common problem with these is font replacement: not all fonts used in original documents contain all the necessary glyphs, therefore sometimes replacement fonts are needed that look similar. Even finding those of a sufficient visual similarity (when compared side-by-side) is rather difficult, despite all the services like Identifont; moreover, the cost of proprietary fonts or font service subscriptions can be prohibitive, and free fonts aren't always available or suitable. Spending much time or money on what is an additional service doesn't seem to make much business sense.

So here's the question: how do you handle font replacement in the real world? Is there a quick and cost-efficient way to do that for those who don't really want to dive deep into typography etc.?


 

Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:16
English to French
+ ...
Hmmm: don't Jan 21

You are making a pretty good case to NOT offer typography services.

This being said, over the past 25 or so years that I've encountered the issue, I found that using generic sans-serif and serif fonts (such as Arial/Helvetica or Times, respectively) is the way to go. Explanations are required to inform the customer that they need to deal with the issue.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:16
English to Portuguese
+ ...
My solution Jan 21

Over the years, still with PageMaker, before Infix, I accumulated a 11,000 fonts collection. Some were free, others came bundled with software, others I bought in packages, etc.

In my system, the client is responsible for providing the fonts.

Several options:
a) fonts included are standard (Arial, Times, Courier, Verdana, etc.) or available for free by downloading from the Internet - I take care of it.
b) fonts are company proprietary (e.g. General Electric, Rakuten, and others) - they must provide them, if they want me to comply with their Corporate Identity. I won't use these for any other company's project.
c) fonts are commercial - either they have them, and they'll lend them to me for the duration of the project (I'll delete them afterwards) or they don't. In the latter case, they have the option to buy them, and lend me as before. It's as if I were using such fonts on their behalf, with their license.
d) they agree to have me use lookalikes, either from my collection or from any royalty-free fonts downloadable from the web.

For the record, while translating from diacritic-free EN into diacritic-using PT, sometimes the fonts they used don't have accented chars, so I must use some equivalent one.

[Edited at 2018-01-22 13:58 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:16
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Names Jan 22

If you know the name of a font you can always find it online and install it.

However you may have to pay for it.


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:16
English to Spanish
+ ...
Fonts are like voices or songs Jan 22

Artem Vakhitov wrote:

Recently, with the development of PDF tools like Infix and FlexiPDF, prospects have emerged for offering services in addition to translation that can be described as "light DTP", "not-quite-DTP", or "DTP evasion". The most common problem with these is font replacement: not all fonts used in original documents contain all the necessary glyphs, therefore sometimes replacement fonts are needed that look similar. Even finding those of a sufficient visual similarity (when compared side-by-side) is rather difficult, despite all the services like Identifont; moreover, the cost of proprietary fonts or font service subscriptions can be prohibitive, and free fonts aren't always available or suitable. Spending much time or money on what is an additional service doesn't seem to make much business sense.

So here's the question: how do you handle font replacement in the real world? Is there a quick and cost-efficient way to do that for those who don't really want to dive deep into typography etc.?


While substituting Arial for Helvetica does little harm, if any, we should ask ourselves: why are there so many fonts? Professionals call them typefaces, by the way.

Typefaces —or fonts in the vernacular— are designed by professional typographers. To be a typographer, one has to study graphic design and typography. These aren't hobbies, but professions in their own right. An average typographer designs families of typefaces, such as Helvetica regular, Helvetica italic, Helvetica bold italic and so on. Some of these families number in the dozens. Why, one might ask? Because some typefaces are designed for display, such as poster headings, or for mastheads in newspapers. Other typefaces are designed for body text, others for math formulas and so on.

But why are there so many fonts since half a dozen should meet most needs in most documents? Because of many reasons, main among which is the distinctiveness and purpose of a font. Another reason: different typefaces have different degrees of legibility. Many companies sell consumer publishing programs, like the old Pint Shop Pro, with a bundle of free fonts. But these fonts are mid-quality, they don't usually have families and they don't have extended characters such as diacritics or accented characters for Portuguese, Polish or Hungarian.

The best a non-DTP user or translator can do is what JL01 and others suggested: alert the customer about a problematic font, it's their responsibility.


 

Artem Vakhitov  Identity Verified
Estonia
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Jan 24

Thanks everybody who has chimed in. Based on what has been said here, I will declare that the missing fonts will have to be provided by the customer.

 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:16
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Plan B Jan 25

Artem Vakhitov wrote:

Based on what has been said here, I will declare that the missing fonts will have to be provided by the customer.


The problem is not that the FONTS are missing, but some chars instead.

For instance, if you have to translate REPUBLICAN into ES or PT (REPUBLICANO), you'll be missing an "O".

In order to make PDF files lighter, only the letters used are embedded, particularly after OpenType fonts came up. What would be the point of embedding all those Cyrillic, Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, and other chars from each font used in a PDF using plain English?

There may be cases when the word "font" - as you mention it to the client - evokes the idea of baptism, not letters. When this happens, you may offer them using "lookalikes", at its worst, Arial for sans-serif, and Times for serif. If you have other fonts, you may play it nicer, however assure them that you won't be investing more than you'll make from the job, nor a substantial part of it, to purchase licenses for commercial fonts that you might be using only this once. If they want specific fonts, the very same used in the original, they must provide them.


 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:16
Member (2008)
French to English
Installing free font files Jan 26

Sometimes fonts can be obtained free of charge. I have had the experience of Infix telling me that some characters from a font with some strange name was missing. I googled the font name it was telling me and found a .ttf font file available online. I just downloaded the file and double clicked it, and it was installed in Windows. Infix seemed to find it and the problem was solved.

 


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Question from an absolute layman (translator, not DTP pro): what do you replace missing fonts with?

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