Fonts, fonts, fonts – have you checked yours lately?

In the olden days we did not have to worry about fonts. There were Courier, Times New Roman and Helvetica, and a couple of more for special events. And with dot matrix printers, using fonts was not much of an option anyway. In a way I miss the days, as there was no hassle with anything related to the look of the text.

But with laser printers and Windows, everything changed.

Suddenly you had more fonts in your machine than you would ever need for business correspondence. In fact, you soon got lost with the fonts. TrueType technology also assisted in this boom of fonts. Now you could have a true what-you-see-is-what-you-get experience (up to a certain point of course). And the number of fonts on your machine grew as if the fonts would breed in the dark. 

With the World Wide Web’s entry into the world, people who have enjoyed making fonts found a ready channel for their work, and sites such as 1001 Free Fonts and Dafont appeared. Today there are literally hundreds of sites where you can find and download free fonts for your personal use, some even for business use. And of course, Google Fonts is available for web work.

The only caveat in the wealth of free fonts is that if you use them in Scandinavia, you need to see the extended character set is included. Without your å, ä and ö characters, expression is limited to English. Also, if you create something like a Visual Identity Guide, you will need to deliver the font file to the customer along with the guide. But these are minor quibbles.

But how to know what fonts you have in your machine? You can look at the Fonts dialog box, or the Fonts dropdown, but if you have literally hundreds of fonts in your machine, comparing the fonts is not real easy. This is the Fonts dropdown:

font list open

So looking at this list will merely show you the plethora of styles you have, but if you have a specific need, such as comparing freehand fonts, you really would need to see them all at one go.

Luckily Microsoft has provided us with a macro that does just that, and installing the macro for yourself is not hard at all. In fact, if you have not used macros before, it is an interesting first try of a powerful tool.

Macros are little snippets of Visual Basic for Applications code, and they get stored with the Normal.dot file of your installation of Word. Therefore, you have access to this (and any other macro) whenever you need to list your fonts. All you do is go to the View menu and select Macros, and then View Macros. When you click Run, the macro will provide you with a list of every font in your computer. Let’s do this in phases.

This is the piece of code you need to add to your Word’s Normal.dot file. When you copy it to the code editor in Word, be sure to include all the text including the Sub and End Sub commands.

Sub ListAllFonts()
Dim J As Integer
Dim FontTable As Table
'Start off with a new document
Set NewDoc = Documents.Add
'Add a table and set the table header
Set FontTable = NewDoc.Tables.Add(Selection.Range, FontNames.Count + 1, 2)
With FontTable
 .Borders.Enable = False
 .Cell(1, 1).Range.Font.Name = "Arial"
 .Cell(1, 1).Range.Font.Bold = 1
 .Cell(1, 1).Range.InsertAfter "Font Name"
 .Cell(1, 2).Range.Font.Name = "Arial"
 .Cell(1, 2).Range.Font.Bold = 1
 .Cell(1, 2).Range.InsertAfter "Font Example"
End With
'Go through all the fonts and add them to the table
For J = 1 To FontNames.Count
 With FontTable
 .Cell(J + 1, 1).Range.Font.Name = "Arial"
 .Cell(J + 1, 1).Range.Font.Size = 10
 .Cell(J + 1, 1).Range.InsertAfter FontNames(J)
 .Cell(J + 1, 2).Range.Font.Name = FontNames(J)
 .Cell(J + 1, 2).Range.Font.Size = 10
 .Cell(J + 1, 2).Range.InsertAfter "ABCDEFG abcdefg 1234567890"
 End With
Next J
FontTable.Sort SortOrder:=wdSortOrderAscending
End Sub

So here’s what you do. First, copy all of the code text above (shown formatted in Courier) to the Clipboard. Then, in Word, select View from the menu bar, and then View Macros. You will see this dialog box:

font macro box 1

Write a name for the macro in the Macro Name edit box (I used ListAllFonts, you cannot have spaces in the names here.) Then click Create.

Word will open the Normal.dot file and enter the Visual Basic editor at this point. Do not be alarmed at all the things you see – you need not edit anything but the part that says Sub ListAllFonts().

font macro box 3

Here, select everything in the Normal – New Macros(Code) window and delete it, so that you have nothing in the window at all. You will be bringing everything you need from this blog entry.

Then, copy the code above into the window. It will then look like this:

font macro box 4

This is the final window. Now you can merely select File – Close and Return to Word, and then you are back in the normal Word environment.

When you now go back to the View menu and select Macros – View Macros, there is one new macro in the list. Select it and click Run, and you will be shown a list of all the fonts in your computer.

font macro box 5

The macro stays with you in the Normal.dot file and whenever you add new fonts, you can just re-run the macro. This is a normal Word file by the way, you can just save it as Fonts – date.doc and print for future reference.

I hope this little trick is as useful for you as it is for me. I am working on an abandoned hospital scene in Blender and I needed to add graffiti to the walls. I installed more than ten different graffiti fonts, but lost them in the nearly 600 fonts I have on the computer. With this macro, I can easily find the various graffiti fonts and produce graffiti for the hospital scene.

0011 (Medium)

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About heikkihietala

Heikki Hietala has worked at the crossroads of IT and language since 1986. He studied at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. With an M.A. in English Philology and minor degrees in Communication and Information Technology, he has seen action at Microsoft, McKinsey & Company, Lionbridge, Bates Advertising and since September 2003, HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Sciences. His interests of late have been user interface design and usability, 3D Design using Blender, and information technology for the small and medium enterprises. In his spare time he writes fiction in English. His novel, "Tulagi Hotel", was published in 2010 and a short story collection, "Filtered Light and Other Stories", in 2012. Tulagi Hotel is now available in Kindle and in paperback (also at Akateeminen Kirjakauppa), published by Fingerpress UK. "Hotelli Tulagi" on saatavana myös suomeksi kirjakaupoista kautta maan.
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