Using Multiple Masters Fonts in InDesign

Queneau's picture


I know that MM Fonts are not developed any further by Adobe, but I have the chance to work with some of these old Adobe MM fonts. Question is how to use these in a layout application like InDesign.

How does one define the axis (of weight, optical size, etc.) in InDesign? Or do fonts have to be generated with FontLab before they can be used? I would like to know how this works for a normal job. And what about the compatibility? Do they still work in CS5?

Would be great if you have some info on this!

dberlow's picture

I believe, "fonts have to be generated with FontLab before they can be used".

.00's picture

Place the font files in the Fonts Folder located at: Library/Application Support/Adobe/Fonts

Only the instances that are present in the Suitcase file will be available, and in some circumstances you may have to convert to outlines to get them to print, especially if you are making a pdf.

bojev's picture

Adobe says:

Multiple Master Font Requirements

Note: Applications that use the Adobe type engine (for example, Adobe Illustrator 7.0 and later, Adobe Photoshop 5.0 and later, and Adobe InDesign 1.x) don't require ATM (Adobe Type Manager) to display multiple master fonts.

Mac OS

-- System 6.0.5 or later

Note: OS X version 10.2 and later support multiple master fonts, but OS X version 10.0-10.1.5 don't.

This is what you get when installed on Mac 10.6.7

kentlew's picture

> I believe, "fonts have to be generated with FontLab before they can be used".

Or if you have an old machine running OS 9 and the Font Creator utility to create instances (also a functionality of ATM Deluxe). I can’t remember if you can do this running in Classic or if it has to be directly in OS 9 (or earlier).

The resulting instances are just PS T1 fonts, so you should be able to install and use — at the very least in the Adobe/Fonts folder as James described.

No one ever made an in-app interface for defining instances on the fly. Part of the reason MM never really gained traction.

Queneau's picture


so this means if I would like to generate a regular and bold weight plus italics for optical size 7 (for example) I have to generate these in a font editor and export as PS T1? Is there a way to automize so I can for instance create optical sizes in 4 weights simultaneously?

kentlew's picture

The MM fonts usually came with the most basic instances already generated -- range of weights in small, text, mid-range, display sizes. These became the basis for the Pro Opticals series.

Which families are you looking at and what sizes are you wanting?

If you generate separate fonts out of a current font editor, you don’t have to export to PS T1 format. You could just as easily generate CFFOTF. Of course, there won’t be any features if you don’t write any. But at least you’ll have the more current font format.

pvanderlaan's picture

No one ever made an in-app interface for defining instances on the fly. Part of the reason MM never really gained traction.

This is not true. Older versions of Illustrator (version 10 was the last one IIRC) had a Multiple Master palette that allowed instant generation of instances. And Quark XPress used to have a plug-in (Font Creator?) that allowed the same. I often made MM versions of my typefaces early in the process in order to quickly test different weight or width settings in Illustrator.

The main reason MM failed was not technology, but the fact that the majority of graphic designers are not trained/able to make decisions on a micro-typographic level. Having a seamless transition between weights and widths in a typeface faced most people with too much choice. Life is much easier when one can only choose between Regular, Medium and Bold.

.00's picture

I still use Illustrator 10 on OSX 10.6.7. The installer does not work but the application does!

billtroop's picture

Thank you Paul for setting the record straight. I can add Lari Software's Lightning Draw GX, which had live sliders for all MM and TT/Variation fonts. No special palette to access either - - the sliders were always there. LightningDraw also supplied most of the new features of Illustrator between versions 7 and 10 - - it was an amazing program, way ahead of its time. Thank you James for the Illustrator tip - - a rare example of backward compatibility on the Mac platform. Anyone who wants to know how, in the future, a font interface should work, just has to find an old Mac and get LightningDraw up and running.

Nick Shinn's picture

The main reason MM failed was lack of support from type foundries.
I tried to make some MM fonts with Fontographer (this would be around 1995) but could never get the damn things to work properly.

OpenType succeeded (despite Quark's slowness to support it, and Adobe burying it deep within application interfaces) because it entered the broad type production culture, thanks to Adobe and Microsoft making information about it available, primarily over the Internet, which was not a factor back in the early and mid 1990s.

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