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Common Font Questions


QUESTION: I have downloaded a font, but I can't get it to install. Nothing happens when I try to drag it into my font folder or my system tray.

Answer: Have you unzipped the font download folder? Even though you can double-click on this folder and see the contents, you can't use them - or install them - until you have unzipped them.

QUESTION: How do I unzip a folder?

Answer: You must use an unzipping utility such as Win Zip or StuffIt Expander. If you watch the movie “Downloading Fonts”, you will see this unzip process in action!

QUESTION: I am a Windows 95/98/NT user. Where can I find a free unzip utility?

Answer: FreeZip is a small, fast, and efficient Zip utility. If you know how to use Windows Explorer, then you do not have to learn anything new to use FreeZip. The setup is a single-click process and there are no options or settings involved. The manual is in English, Japanese, Polish, Italian, Swedish, German, Latvian, Spanish, French, Hungarian, Czech, Russian, Lithuanian, Belorussian, Portuguese, and Chinese.

Download FreeZip.

QUESTION: I wish there was a good way to see all of my fonts at once. Do you know how?

Answer: The Font Thing is a free font organizer that was created by Sue Fischer. It can make your life easier in these ways...

  • Look at your installed and uninstalled fonts at once.
  • Look at fonts in sub-folders at once.
  • View sample text and individual characters in your choice of colors.
  • View fonts in various sizes and colors, using the text of your choice.
  • View copyright and font creation information.
  • Print samples of your fonts.
  • Write notes about your fonts so that you can remember details about them.
  • Install or uninstall any number of fonts at once.
  • Load (and unload) any number of fonts for temporary use to speed up your computer.
  • Copy or delete any number of font files at once.
  • Rename fonts with conflicting names.
  • View your fonts according to their font type.
  • Manage your fonts by grouping them into collections.
  • Open multiple windows to speed up your font management tasks.

See screen shots of The Font Thing in action.

QUESTION: Even though I have installed a font or a dingbat, it shows up with empty boxes when I try to select it from a software program, such as Microsoft Word. What am I doing wrong?

Answer: Nothing at all! Many fonts and dingbats, particularly free ones, contain less than full sets of characters. Try typing in all of the letters, numbers, and keys on your keyboard until you start finding what you are looking for. You can use Windows' Character Map Tool to view them, as well.

If you still have problems, your computer may have had trouble during the downloading process. Try downloading and installing the font or dingbat again.

QUESTION: What is the Character Map Tool and how do I locate it?

Answer: The Character Map Tool lets you see all of the characters in a font. You can also easily select characters from the font to copy to the Windows clipboard. Here are the pathways to find the Windows' Character Map Tool.

  • Windows 95/98/NT users: Start> Programs> Accessories> Character Map
  • XP Users: Start> Programs> Accessories> System Tools> Character Map

QUESTION: How can I tell if it is okay to use or sell a free font?

Answer: Most fonts come with a Read Me document. In this document, the author usually provides copyright information. If the font is available to give away or use for commercial purposes, they will tell you there.

QUESTION: When I create a document or write an email with a neat font and send it to my friend, they tell me that it doesn't look the same. Why?

Answer: This is because your friend has to have the same font installed on their computer to allow them to see it. If the font you have used isn't there, your computer will pick something out. Sometimes the results are okay. Sometimes they are not. This is why you see Web sites and documents created with common fonts that most computers have.

QUESTION: I have a great font that I've created. I'd love to share or sell it to Scrap Girls' visitors. Is this possible?

Answer: It sure is. Download our Tell Me More information to learn how you can apply to be on Scrap Girls' Product Design Team!

QUESTION: I often see font copyright terms such as “freeware” or “shareware” when I visit font sites. What is meant by these terms?

Answer: While the definitions for these terms can vary, here are some commonly accepted definitions for various types of fonts:

  • Freeware is usually given away and is meant for free personal use. It may also be free for charities and non-profit groups to use. If you want to use freeware for commercial purposes, most designers ask for a small fee or a copy of the final products that you create with their font.
  • Shareware fonts are usually meant to be tried for a period of about 30 days. If you want to keep it, the designer asks you to register it with them. They may ask you for a small fee to register it. If you don't want to keep it, they ask that you delete it from your computer.
  • Guiltware fonts often have Read Me document statements indicating that if you feel guilty using it for non-commercial uses, they would appreciate you sending them a small donation for the use of the font.
  • Charityware is designed to help raise money for charitable causes. The designers ask that you donate something to a charity for its use.
  • Postcardware is fun to get because the font designer just ask for a favor, such as, “Please send a postcard to my daughter, if you like this font.” The Read Me file will have the address you should use.

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