Ungrouped font families

seah's picture

Speaking as someone who's not a type designer, can any of you explain the rationale behind not grouping font families? Ungrouped families are incredibly difficult to work with in InDesign, especially when there are a lot of weights. Grouping seems to be the norm (at least that I've noticed?) so it's always jarring to come across one that isn't grouped.

So, is it a conscious decision to set the files up like that? A technical limitation with the software used to create the font?

ralf h.'s picture

It’s a long story, but basically it’s the only bullet-proof way to make all styles of a family accessible in any app in any OS. Especially when the family has more than 4 styles, which exceeds what apps like Microsoft Word could handle for a long time.

hrant's picture

Often an ungrouped font will have a grouped version that can be used in InDesign instead (although sometimes they're sold separately).

hhp

John Hudson's picture

Ralf: ... basically it’s the only bullet-proof way to make all styles of a family accessible in any app in any OS

Even if shipping singletons instead of creating 4-style families, one can still add name table preferred family and subfamily names for the sake of InDesign etc..

seah's picture

Thanks for the responses. So is it technically possible to have a family of singletons that still displays as a family in InDesign?

John Hudson's picture

Yes, I believe so. I've never tested this, though, because my customers all want linked families anyway.

HVB's picture

It has to do with the setting of proper names in the fonts' large number of names and name-associated items.
A long discussion, with references, can be found here. - Herb

canderson's picture

Its dreary to think of someone out in Woburn, Massachusetts trying to sort out the intricacies of font style-linking. I'm in Somerville, which is basically the same. There are probably more worthwhile endeavours.

I used to use a free tool called TTX to dump out font tables in XML, not so much to solve problems, but to explain to others why things don't work in a particular OS/application.

I think in ancient times, applications such as Quark would intervene, but it seems like a losing game because it doesn't really fix things at the generalized font level. Perhaps it will work for you over the interval at which you care.

Let us know if you get it working.

ralf h.'s picture

So is it technically possible to have a family of singletons that still displays as a family in InDesign?

Yes, but it requires a rather complex work-around (to create several naming systems within one font), which most newer professional font families will have. But thousands of font families where planned before there was an app called InDesign and it’s not as simple as activating a check-box somewhere to make the grouping work in a way that is compatible with each and every software.

By the way: What makes ungrouped families “incredibly difficult” to work with in InDesign?

Thomas Phinney's picture

I know that I am one of the experts on the whole font/family/style thing, but still, it just does not seem all that complicated to me to have four-member families for Windows GDI apps, and unified families for Mac and Adobe.

The new TransType 4 makes it downright trivial, actually.

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