The Font of Confusion

To begin, a definition — font : a receptacle for the water used in a baptism; a fount or source; a set of type of one particular face and size.

One of the most difficult things for me as a self-published author was deciding which font to use for the book that I was going to sell and make tons of money. Like most neophytes, I had never thought about fonts in a commercial sense. On the web it didn’t matter – my OpenOffice Writer allowed me to use any font I wanted to, in whichever face and size I chose. So when CreateSpace rejected my file because the font was not ’embedded’ I didn’t know what they were talking about. As I began to ask around for an explanation, I discovered that I wasn’t alone in my ignorance and confusion.

Eventually I was able to figure out what it all meant and I was shown an easy way to check my file before I submitted it. The properties dialog tells all – open the pdf file in your reader and right click on properties. Then click on the Font tab and it will show if the fonts you’ve used in the document are embedded. If the font is installed on your computer, it should automatically embed when you produce the pdf file.

What this means, I’ve been told, is that the font and all its subsets (which allow italics and caps and the like) are generated by software that resides on your computer’s storage drive. This makes it possible for any computer to view your document exactly as you intended even, if it does not have your font in residence. And that is half the battle; the question of legality remains.

The thing is that not every font you are able to download and store on your computer is free of copyright obligations. It is a violation of another’s right to fair pay for their work to use a font they own without their permission. It’s usually okay to use a font if you’re not selling the document but if you’re making money, font creators mostly want to be paid for their work. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

So the million dollar question for us self-publishers is – how do you find out if you can legally use that beautiful font to publish your book?

And the answer is that you should take nothing for granted. Research the font you want to use and make sure that it’s available.

To help you get started, here’s a link to Microsoft’s Font Licensing page and here’s the Adobe End User Licence Agreement (EULA) that governs what you may do with Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite Single Edition.

And finally, here’s a source for fonts with an FCC (Free For Commercial use)  licence.

Hope this helps.

About neiladaniel

Self published writer of sci-fi, fantasy, poetry, so far.
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