Sending Fonts to Your Service Bureau

Include the right fonts with your files

Service bureaus cite the number one problem when outputting files is the fonts. The receive files with missing fonts, corrupt fonts, or the wrong fonts. If you want to avoid delays and errors on your next project, take the extra steps to ensure that you send the right fonts with your file.

If you don’t supply your own fonts the service bureau may substitute their own version. This might work. Or not. It often results in subtle or obvious differences in your document including text reflow.

Avoid these common errors when sending your fonts:

  • Missing fonts
    Even if you only used a single character from a certain font, you’ll have to send that font along with all the others. Don’t forget to include the bold, italic, and other versions of the font as well if you used them.

    Not all fonts are text. Did you use a dingbat symbol for bullets or end-markers on articles? Include those fonts too.

  • Missing fonts in EPS graphics
    If you have embedded EPS files that include text be sure to send the fonts for those images as well. Generally it is best to convert the text to curves but sometimes this can alter the image in unwanted ways. If that’s the case, you must send the font files for that text.
  • Missing screen or printer fonts
    Type 1 (PostScript) fonts have two files you must send — both a screen and a printer font. When you send only the screen font the file may look fine on screen but when printed you’ll see font substitutions. Be sure to include both screen (bitmap or .pfm) and printer (postscript outline or .pfb) files for each Type 1 font.
  • Wrong version
    While many service bureaus prefer Type 1 fonts many can and will use TrueType as well. Some designers who use TrueType fonts in their designs may mistakenly send the Type 1 version thinking that’s all the SB can use. TrueType and Type 1 differ in how they handle kerning and other spacing matters. Sending the wrong version of the font can result in differences in text flow and alter the appearance of kerned headlines.
    If you have both TrueType and Type 1 versions of the same font installed (which is not a good idea) you may inadvertently use one in your file then send the other version for printing. Avoid this by only installing and using one version of the font.

Automated font collection
One way to insure that you include all the fonts used in your project is to use the utilities of your page layout program or third-party utilities that gather all the files needed for output or provide lists of the fonts used in a particular document.

Adobe PageMaker’s Prepare for Service Bureau feature gathers the fonts used in your document and tells you whether they are TrueType or Type 1 fonts. The Collect for Output utility in QuarkXPress creates a list telling you which fonts were used so that you can insure all the fonts needed are included with your file. See the sidebar for more software and tips for font collection.

Manual font collection
Whether or not you use helper software, it’s still a good idea to know how to manually locate the files for each of your fonts. The next page includes steps to help you locate your Windows or Macintosh TrueType and Type 1 fonts and troubleshoot other font problems.