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Windows XP

Fonts Overview

Choosing appropriate fonts makes documents easier to read and helps in the communication of ideas and information. This document explores font use and management.

NOTE: Some of these instructions refer to MY COMPUTERMy Computeron the Desktop. Instead of the text MY COMPUTER, you may see your username followed by the computer name.

return to topUnderstanding Font Families and Font Qualities

Fonts, like people, have names to distinguish one from another. Fonts are also divided into two families or types: serif and sans serif. Serif fonts have small strokes called serifs on the ends of each letter; sans serif fonts do not. Each "family" has a different purpose and appearance as explained in the following table.

example fonts and purposes

Fonts have other distinguishing characteristics: they are either proportional or monospaced, and are either True Type or Printer fonts.

Monospaced fonts look like typewritten text because each letter uses the same amount of space (e.g., W and I both take up the same amount of space). In contrast, proportional fonts give each letter the correct amount of space based on its size and shape. Proportional fonts use less space and, therefore, less paper to print. Try changing text in Courier New to Bookman or Times New Roman and notice the difference in your printouts.

True Type fonts use a technology that allows your computer to scale them to any size and at the same time print them the way they look onscreen. Printer fonts are fonts inherent to the printer you are using and do not print the way they look on the screen.

When choosing fonts from the Font pull-down list, you can see if the font you pick is a Printer, Open, or True Type font. The letter A appears before a Printer font, the letter O before an Open font and a double T appears before a True Type font.

The table below summarizes the qualities of some commonly used fonts. Each font and its description have been typed in that font type at 12-point size.

Font Examples

return to topTips for Effective Font Use

return to topAccessing the Font Folder

To access the list of installed fonts you must go through the Control Panel in the Start menu or through Windows Explorer.

Accessing the Font Folder: Start Menu Option

  1. From the Start menu, select Control Panel
    The Control Panel appears.

  2. Double click FONTS
    NOTE: If Fonts does not appear, click SWITCH TO CLASSIC VIEW, then double click FONTS
    The Fonts screen appears with all the installed fonts listed in alphabetical order.
    fonts screen

Accessing the Font Folder: Windows Explorer Option

  1. On the Desktop, right click MY COMPUTER » select Explore
    Windows Explorer appears.

  2. Under Folders, select Control Panel
    The contents of the Control Panel appear.

  3. Select Fonts
    The list of fonts appears in the files window on the right.

return to topExploring Font Samples

You may find it useful to have font sample pages for reference and comparison. These sample pages contain a list of all letters and numbers, sample phrases in different point sizes, and other useful information.

Viewing Font Samples

  1. Access the Fonts folder
    NOTE: The FONT icon shows whether the font is a Printer font, True Type font or an Open Type font.

    Symbol Meaning
    printer font symbol is the symbol for a Printer font.
    true type font symbol is the symbol for a True Type font.
    open type font is the symbol for an Open Type font.
  2. Double click the desired font
    The font sample screen appears.

  3. OPTIONAL: To print the sample page, click PRINT

  4. When done viewing the sample, click DONE

Printing Samples Without Viewing Them

  1. Access the Fonts folder

  2. Select the desired font
    HINT: To select multiple fonts, hold down [Ctrl] and click the fonts you want. 
    WARNING: To save your computer from extra work, only choose a few fonts samples at a time because it will open each font sample that you choose to print. Too many selected fonts may freeze up your computer.

  3. To print the selected sample page(s), from the File menu, select Print
    Each font sample will open with the Print dialog box inside it.

  4. Make any desired changes to the Print dialog box in each font sample screen and click PRINT

  5. When done printing the sample, click DONE

return to topInserting Special Characters and Symbols

Use the Character Map to locate symbols, characters from other languages, arrows, and other characters. Symbols copied and pasted into documents can then be formatted like letters or numbers. These directions assume that your document is open.

  1. From the Start menu, select All Programs » Accessories » System Tools » Character Map
    The Character Map dialog box appears.
    Character map dialog box

  2. From the Font pull-down list, select the appropriate font
    HINT: For foreign language characters or currency/trademark symbols, match the font in Character Map to the font of your document.

  3. To select a character, click it
    To see an enlarged version of each symbol/character, click on the symbol/character.
    You can also move from character to character by using the [Arrow] keys.

  4. When the desired symbol/character is selected, click SELECT
    HINT: You can select more than one symbol/character to copy by repeating steps five and six. When you insert the characters into your document they will appear right next to each other, like the letters of a word.

  5. Click COPY

  6. Return to your document by clicking the X in the upper right hand corner

  7. Move the insertion point to the desired location

  8. From the Edit menu, select Paste

return to topInstalling Fonts from Other Sources

Fonts are simply files that contain character and symbol information. For this reason, users may exchange font files, purchase them, or download them from the Internet. However, simply copying the font file(s) to the system's hard drive is not enough; all new fonts must be installed. Use these instructions to enable Windows to recognize the new font(s).

Installing Fonts from Other Sources: Dialog Box Option

  1. Access the Fonts folder

  2. From the File menu, select Install New Font…
    The Add Fonts dialog box appears.
    Add fonts dialog box

  3. Use the Folders area to navigate to the drive and directory containing your new font(s)

  4. From the List of fonts scroll box, select the desired font
    To select multiple fonts, hold down [Ctrl] and click the fonts you want.
    To select the entire list, click SELECT ALL.

  5. Be sure that Copy fonts to Fonts folder at the bottom of the dialog box is selected
    It should have a check mark before it.

  6. Click OK
    The new font appears in the Fonts folder.

Installing Fonts from Other Sources: Copy & Paste Option

  1. Access the Fonts folder

  2. In Windows Explorer, navigate to the drive and directory containing your new font(s) and select the desired font(s)

  3. From the Edit menu, select Copy
    Press [Ctrl] + [C]

  4. In the Fonts folder, from the Edit menu, select Paste
    Press [Ctrl] + [V]
    The Install Fonts Progress dialog box appears.

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