Rearranging the default character set of a typeface

I have been corresponding with Hoefler Frere about customizing the standard character set for Whitney. Whitney has a default character set and an alternate set. We want to have some of the alternate characters to replace their default characters in the main set, and are told that choosing an alternate character can only be done manually, one at a time, through the glyphs palatte in InDesign/Illustrator.

We are buying Whitney for use in a very large organization after months of study as to the right typeface for the job, and have found Whitney has just the right characteristics, so long as the alternate 'R' is used in place of the standard 'R', and the alternate 'K' is used in place of the standard 'K', as well as a few other replacements. We want some of the alternate characters to be used entirely in place of the default characters at all times. In other words, we want this font to be carefully controlled without the option of somebody choosing, for example, which 'R' they want to use.. a situation where people are going into glyph sets to choose an R here, an A there would be far too labourious and confusing; we want them to have only one option. We simply want to have a few of the characters switched around from the alternate to the default character set, so we can deliver the various copies we buy to our designers in that uneditable configuration.

Is this possible for a designer to do on their own? Must I use Fontographer?


eliason's picture

"Possible" technologically, or "possible" legally?

What did H&FJ say when you contacted them?

Neal29's picture

They did not reply; possibly a lost email, and I'll try again, but wanted to know the opinion of others. I was interested in 'possible' in the technical sense.

Jens Kutilek's picture

Is this possible for a designer to do on their own?

It is, but if you're not familiar with the process, it may be more hassle than it's worth*. I think the most painless way is to have the foundry modify the fonts for your. And besides, I'm pretty sure the H&FJ licence doesn't allow it to do it on your own.

* switching the outlines of the R around isn't the only thing you'd have to do. The horizontal metrics of the glyph must be adjusted too, then kerning, hinting, then the OpenType feature code, which can't just be read from the font, modified and written back 1:1, then there are more variants of the R like accented variants and small caps, which all should get the same treatment ...

dezcom's picture

Send them another email. I am sure they can make a custom version for you but I don't know their fee.

Khaled Hosny's picture

You can use any font editor for that, but if OpenType is involved then better use a font that can edit OpenType tables. As for legally, myself I'll do it if I need and can, any EULA saying I can't is draconian and will just ignore, but that is just a theoretical stance since I'd not be touching such font in the first place.

kentlew's picture

Aside from legalities (which it seems don’t hold water with some quarters), if this is for “very large organization after months of study as to the right typeface for the job,” then there are practical benefits to having the foundry do it, despite any customization fee.

For one thing, they can work directly from original sources, which will avoid some of the potential problems that Jens alludes to. If you’re talking about the entire Whitney family, then this potential is compounded. If the foundry does the work, you will be assured of commercial-quality robustness and consistency.

And you will also remain entitled to customer/technical support for the modified fonts. Which, for a large a widespread organization, is no small matter.

Your requests and your rationale are both quite reasonable. Hopefully someone from H&FJ can respond to you in a timely fashion with a practical solution.

Neal29's picture

You're right kentlew, and thank you. I now believe they will customize Whitney for us; they have just requested info about the timeline, specifics, and how many computers will be using it & etc.

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