Tech Tip: Look at the fine print about fonts

While Windows comes with numerous TrueType fonts, some of your users may require additional fonts for specific design or application use.

In these cases, third-party font packs are helpful, but Windows has a limit of 1,000 fonts. Windows holds the list of fonts—along with their paths if they aren't in the default font location—in a single registry key, which can't exceed 64 KB.

The Graphics Device Interface (GDI) also holds a list of fonts, reserving about 10 KB for the task. If font names average about 10 characters in length, the GDI limit also falls around the 1,000 mark.

Adding and subtracting fonts

If your users insist on a large number of fonts, and the list is always changing, you need to know how to properly manage these fonts. Third-party font packs often ship with either a setup program or a manager program. If they override Windows' own font management, use these programs first to manage the installed base of fonts.

Otherwise, you can manage fonts by going to Control Panel | Fonts. To delete a font (or selection of fonts), highlight it, right-click the selection, and select Delete from the shortcut menu. A confirmation message appears for your approval. Deleting moves the font file to the Recycle Bin, rather than just deregistering it as an installed font.

To install a font, select Install New Font from the File menu in the Fonts applet. In the Add Fonts dialog box, browse to find the new font file that you want to install. By default, the Copy Fonts To Fonts Folder check box is selected. Remember that fonts not stored in the default folder are stored in the registry with their full path, which takes up more space and limits the number of fonts that can be stored.

Managing fonts

Within Control Panel's Fonts applets, there are some extra options to help you manage fonts. In the applet, double-click a font to see a sample of how it looks.

If you're overwhelmed by all the fonts, you can narrow down the displayed list by selecting View | Hide Variations. This will remove the variants of a font family, such as Black, Bold, Italic, and Narrow.

To find out which fonts are comparable to each other, select View | List Fonts By Similarity. This option uses a number, called the PANOSE number, which is held in the font file. Select a font that includes a valid PANOSE number from the drop-down list, and Windows will list the fonts according to their relationship to the selected font, using Very Similar, Fairly Similar, or Not Similar classifications.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox