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Macintosh OS X

Fonts Overview

Choosing fonts well makes documents easier to read, which helps to clearly communicate ideas and information. This document explores font use and management.

return to topUnderstanding Font Families and Font Qualities

Fonts 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 from Courier New to Bookman or Times New Roman and notice the difference in your printouts.

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

font style examples

return to topTips for Effective Font Use

return to topViewing Font Samples

By viewing the font samples, you will get a good taste of how each font will look in some variation. Each sample will show different point size and style for that font.

  1. On the desktop, double click the MACINTOSH OS X icon 
    Macintosh OS X appears.

  2. In Macintosh OS X, double click APPLICATIONS
    The Applications window appears.

  3. Double click TEXT EDIT
    The Text Edit program will launch.

  4. From the Format menu, select Font » Show Fonts...
    The Fonts dialog box appears.

  5. From the Family, Type Face, and Size lists, select the font attributes you would like to preview

  6. From the Extras... pull-down list, select Show Preview
    A sample area now appears in the Fonts dialog box, showing a preview of the font you selected.
    Fonts dialog box

  7. To select another font for preview
    1. From the Extras... pull-down list, select Hide Preview
    2. Repeat steps 5 and 6

  8. When done viewing font samples, close the Fonts dialog box

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. But simply copying the font file(s) to the system's hard drive is not enough. All new fonts must be installed.

Installing Fonts from a Disk

When installing fonts from a disk, make sure the System Folder and your font samples are open.

  1. Double click MACINTOSH OS X
    Macintosh OS X appears.

  2. Double click LIBRARY
    The Library window appears.

  3. From the list of font samples on your disk, click and drag a sample over the Fonts folder

  4. When the sample is over the Fonts icon, release the mouse
    The Copy to "Font" alert box will appear showing you items remaining to be copied, time left, and the option to stop the installation.

Downloading Fonts from the Internet

In order to download fonts from the Internet, the Macintosh hard drive must be opened.

  1. Launch Internet Explorer or Netscape

  2. Within Internet Explorer or Netscape, click INTERNET SEARCH

  3. In the desired search engine text box, type Fonts

  4. Click SUBMIT

  5. From the resulting list, make the desired selection

  6. Locate a desired font and follow the onscreen instructions for downloading
    The downloaded font will appear as an icon(s) on your desktop.

  7. On the desktop, double click the MACINTOSH OS X icon 
    Macintosh OS X appears.

  8. In Macintosh OS X, double click the APPLICATIONS icon
    The Applications window appears.

  9. Double click the LIBRARY icon
    The Library window appears.

  10. Click and drag downloaded font icon(s) over the Fonts folder

  11. To ensure that the downloaded font will work, close all open applications and restart the computer

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