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Fonts in the Spludlow Framework


Introduction. 1

Methods of consuming fonts. 1

The Standard Fonts. 1

Font Mapping (Windows to PostScript). 1

Viewing Fonts. 1

Using the Unicode Tables. 1

Font Ambiguity and Confusing Terms. 1

Font Styles and Methods of using them.. 1

Encoding and Non-Roman Alphabets. 1

Unicode. 1

Non-Roman Alphabets and Unicode Fonts. 1

Legal 1

Font Name Registration Problems. 1

Segoe UI Historic Phallus Microsoft Censorship. 1



You may think choosing a font is just a case of scrolling through that drop down list in Word but having a little background knowledge of fonts will ensure things will run smoothly for your applications.

Methods of consuming fonts

When printing to paper or a bitmap, fonts are no real concern, provided they are available to the executing process performing the printing then it’s going to work. With a vector file format like a PDF then things are not quite that simple. With a vector format it is describing what is being drawn, not a static snap shot bitmap, so if a particular font is used the PDF needs to reference it somehow. Here are the basic font strategies when dealing with PDF or any vector format:

·         Standard 14 – The PDF and PostScript standard include 14 basic fonts that should always be present on any rendering device from a printer to a software reader. If you stick to using these fonts you will never have to worry.

·         Reference Font – Use any font available to the system but don’t include it within the PDF. If you are producing PDFs that you will render on a system with the same fonts installed then this is fine. If you try to render it on a system where the fonts are not present it will substitute the font and won’t look right.

·         Embed Font – The font (or at least the used parts) are included within the PDF and used when rendering the PDF even if the font is not present on the target system. The size of the PDF file will be increased as it is carrying the font.

·         Convert to Outlines/Strokes/Curves – Text is converted to vector objects and the font is no longer required. The size of the PDF file will be increased as it now contains extra vector information describing all the text, if there is a lot of text then this may be quiet considerable. No way of doing this from code at the moment you normally do this in something like Adobe Illustrator.

·         Include Bitmap – You can include a bitmap image within the PDF that uses a particular font for example your company logo may use an exotic font. This will also increase file size, by how much depends on the bitmap size.

Choosing the right option depends on your application; if your sending out documents, like order confirmations, I would recommend the PostScript standard 14 fonts option unless you have good reason not to, it keeps the file size down and avoids pretty much any problems. If you have to use a certain font then choose another option depending on how it will be used at the other end.

The Standard Fonts

Within iTextSharp if you call FontFactory.RegisteredFonts() you get this list they are the Standard 14:

·         courier

·         courier-bold

·         courier-oblique

·         courier-boldoblique

·         helvetica

·         helvetica-bold

·         helvetica-oblique

·         helvetica-boldoblique

·         symbol

·         times-roman

·         times-bold

·         times-italic

·         times-bolditalic

·         zapfdingbats

When you boil this down there are only 3 font families and 2 special fonts:

·         Courier – Looks like typewriter text and is mono-spaced (all characters are the same width). Generally not used for standard paragraph text but traditionally used for things like code listings within the page. On Windows called “Courier New”.

·         Helvetica – Standard Sans-serif font (No little bits on ends of characters). Not present on Windows “Arial” is the closest equivalent.

·         Times – Standard Serif font (little bits on ends of characters) used in the Newspaper with the same name. Windows name: “Times New Roman”

·         Symbol – Many Greek letters and special brackets used in mathematical equations also the playing card suits

·         Zapf Dingbats – Various wacky symbols like scissors, telephones, religious, snowflakes, and arrows.

So for your general purpose text you only have 2 options Helvetia (Arial) or Times depending on which one you prefer. Helvetia is often considered modern and Times more traditional. You can always mix them, but not too much, a Times heading with Helvetia body may work for you.

Font Mapping (Windows to PostScript)

When using the Spludlow PDF the following fonts will be automatically mapped:

Courier New                      Courier

Arial                                       Helvetica

Times New Roman          Times-Roman

Regular, Bold, Italic, and Bold & Italic styles are also automatically mapped for these 3 fonts. So if for example you use the font “Courier New, Bold, and Italic" it will map to the postscript font: "Courier-BoldOblique”.

If you want to keep things simple stick to these 3 fonts and use the Windows font names with styles to them (rather than trying to use individual separate font styles).

When writing code that will target print, bitmap, and PDF use these 3 Windows Fonts and the PDF fonts will get mapped without you having to write any extra code to cope with font differences in the PDF.

Viewing Fonts

The Spludlow Framework provides methods in the “Spludlow.Drawing.PDF” assembly that can be used to produce PDF Font Books and PDF Unicode tables. Both of these PDFs can be very quickly paged through using Adobe reader or Microsoft Edge.

NOTE: The “Spludlow.Drawing.PDF” assembly has to be installed (see video).

NOTE: I recommend installing Adobe Reader for viewing PDF files before you start.

Let’s run through the video:

·         On the Intranet Call page search for “font”. Notice only the basic font methods are available.

·         Go to the Spludlow Web and download the “Spludlow.Drawing.PDF” assembly.

·         Extract the archive.

·         Copy the directory to “C:\Program Files\SpludlowV1\Spludlow.Drawing.PDF”

·         Open in notepad the file “C:\ProgramData\SpludlowV1\Config\Applications.txt”

·         Add the line (3 parts tab delimited):

o   Spludlow.Data.MySQL                   C:\Program Files\SpludlowV1\Spludlow.Data.MySQL                                       Lib

·         Close and save the file

·         Back to the Intranet Call page search for “font”. Notice now all the font methods in the PDF assembly are being found.

·         Click on the method “Spludlow.Drawing.FontReports.Book(string fontDirectory, string targetPdfFilename)”, leave the page as is for a moment.

·         Create a working directory “C:\FONTS” and give “SpludlowGroup” full control.

·         Go to “C:\WINDOWS\Fonts” and enable the font “Segoe UI Historic” (this will be handy later for demonstrating Unicode tables)

·         Back to the Call page enter the 2 method parameters:

o   fontDirectory                     C:\WINDOWS\Fonts

o   targetPdfFilename          C:\FONTS\WindowsFonts.pdf

·         Click “Make Call Text” and “Run Call Text” to start running the method

·         After a few minutes the PDF is produced. (You can check the status & log pages for problems)

·         Open the PDF and page through looking for the font you want.

·         The same procedure in now performed on an un-installed collection of fonts, “Adobe Font Folio” in the demo.

·         The source font directory must be accessible by “SpludlowGroup”, this is achieved in the demo by moving the directory into “C:\FONTS”.

·         Search for “font” on the Call page again.

·         Click the method “Spludlow.Drawing.FontReports.UnicodeTables(string fontDirectory, string targetDirectory)”.

·         Create an output directory for the Unicode tables: “C:\FONTS\Windows Fonts Tables”

·         On the Call page enter the 2 method parameters:

o   fontDirectory                     C:\WINDOWS\Fonts

o   targetDirectory                 C:\FONTS\Windows Fonts Tables

·         Click “Make Call Text” and “Run Call Text” to start running the method.

·         The Unicode Tables are produced one at a time for each font.

The font books and Unicode tables can be produced for installed and un-installed fonts just make sure “SpludlowGroup” can read them (Somewhere in a user’s profile, like your desktop, will not have permission).

NOTE: You could print the font books to bitmap, printer, or dummy (view them in the Intranet print page) but PDF in Adobe Reader works better than anything else, you can page through very quickly.

Using the Unicode Tables

By looking at the Unicode Table PDF file size you can guess at how many glyphs a font contains. Fonts supporting Roman alphabet only tend to be around 1.4K. Fonts over this, like Arial 1.7K, carry extras like Latin extended (all the European diacritics), Greek, Cyrillic, Hebrew, and Arabic. Fonts with larger PDF’s are likely to be carrying the CJKV (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese) glyphs. Anything in between is most likely a specialist font.

For older alphabets the “Segoe UI Historic” font (provided with Windows but you have to enable it) carries stuff going back to Egyptian hieroglyphs.

You can “rip” the vector graphics from fonts by opening the PDF in Illustrator on the page number taken from Adobe Reader, ensure the font is installed in Windows.

NOTE: Some fonts due to their licence may not let you embed or edit them.

I just created a logo in seconds without drawing anything using “Segoe UI Emoji” for a legal firm that specializes in bodged fingernail compensation. They can deal with any copyright issues.

Font Ambiguity and Confusing Terms

When it comes to using fonts there is quite a lot of annoyances and inconsistencies that can be a real pain. Here are some points to clarify things:

·         “New” – Used when fonts are recreated by another to differentiate from the original. Most of the time the fonts can be directory substituted. Example “Courier” and “Courier New”.

·         “Roman” – The standard western alphabet, often used to just mean the basic “Regular” font of the family for example “Times Roman” is just Regular Times.

·         “Latin” – Another name for the “Roman” alphabet, you can use the 2 words interchangeably.

·         Helvetica & Arial – On a Mac you get both, but not on Windows you have to use Arial, which is present on Macs these days. Obviously you can install Helvetica on Windows but it may not be present on other Windows systems. For basic business documents using these 2 fonts interchangeably will be fine. For more design critical applications the subtle differences may be noticeable.

·         “Oblique” & “Italic” – Both mean the same thing, use them interchangeability, the font style that slants. For example “courier oblique” is called “courier italic” in a parallel universe.

·         “Condensed” – Squashed from the sides, you can fit more in the same space.

·         “Sans” – Short for Sans-Serif (Like Helvetica)

·         “Gothic” – Means a Sans-Serif font (Like Helvetica)

·         “Script” – Often used in font names to mean like hand written or calligraphy style

·         “Mono” – Mono-Spaced, all characters the same width like Courier

·         “Book” – Means “Regular”

·         “Demi” – Meaning Half so a demi-bold font is half bold

·         “Semi” – Can be used interchangeability with “Demi”

·         “Neue” – Another word for “New” example “Helvetica Neue”

·         “Light” – thinner that regular

·         “Heavy” – bolder than “Bold”

·         “Black” – heavier than “Heavy”

Fonts may also have a reference to the foundry (who created the font) in the name. This can be confusing and may cause you to wrongly attribute the foundry reference in the name to something significant when it means nothing in practice. Some of the big players are:

·         LT – Linotype

·         MT – Monotype

·         ITC – International Typeface Corporation

·         BT – Bitsream

·         MS – Microsoft

·         Adobe – Adobe (Not abbreviated)

Font Styles and Methods of using them

Here are the basic font styles found in .Net they are self-explanatory:

·         Regular

·         Bold

·         Italic (Leaning)

·         Underline

·         Strikeout (Line through middle)

Bold and italic are the only real styles, underline and strikeout are just lines drawn over the text.

Some fonts may be supplied with many extra styles like “Thin”, “Light”, “Heavy”, and “Black”. You can also get things like “Helvetica Rounded” which you would think should be a separate font all together but that’s the way it is.

Encoding and Non-Roman Alphabets

By default the font encoding used is CP-1252 this is the standard 1 byte to 1 character encoding scheme used for most Western European languages. This encoding can also be referred to as ANSI or ISO 8859-1 although this is technically incorrect it means practically the same thing. In Acrobat Reader if you go to “File->Properties->Fonts” it shows this encoding as “ANSI”.

For other alphabets like Chinese then Unicode (see below) is used for the encoding. To use Unicode for a font then suffix an Asterisk to the font name for example “Microsoft YaHei*, 24”. The PDF format refers to Unicode encoding as “IDENTITY_H” this is what you will see in Acrobat Reader’s Font information. When using Unicode encoding iTextSharp seems to automatically embed the font so you will get larger file sizes.


Before Unicode there where different code pages for different alphabets, the stored single byte value for each character would represent a different symbol in different code pages. So you had to specifically use a particular code page to read and write from a file otherwise you would end up with duff characters all over the place.

Unicode solves all these problems in these 2 simple ways:

1.       Allow more bytes to be used for each character (greater address space)

2.       Allocate every character from every alphabet a unique number from this greater address space.

There is a little more to it, for example there are a few different encoding methods (how the numbers are stored), e.g. UTF-8 and UTF-16, but that’s the basics of how it works.

Non-Roman Alphabets and Unicode Fonts

Here you can see standard Windows Arial has got the Arabic alphabet in it as well as things like Greek and the extra accents used in many European countries.

Obviously all fonts don’t contain all Unicode characters, but if you are after a certain alphabet you may be surprised to find it in a seemingly standard font.


Like anything fonts are copyrighted and owned by whoever put the work into creating them. There will be a usage license somewhere that says what you can and cannot do with them. If you care then by all means find and read your font licence.

Font Name Registration Problems

Some old TTF fonts seem to give problems when figuring out the name. You can see this when running the “Font Demo” some fonts aren’t displayed and you get an error saying the font can’t be found.

Looking into it there is a discrepancy between what the font is displaying its name as and what the system thinks it is called. Take this example:

·         Filename                                             LTe50127.ttf

·         Glyph Typeface Name:                  Aachen LT

·         Windows Display Name:               Aachen LT Regular

·         Registry Name:                                 Aachen LT Bold (TrueType)

·         Actual Working Name:                   Aachen LT Bold

Obviously this font is having an identity crisis, due to its age it just isn’t playing ball with my current version of Windows. If you are experiencing such problem I’d recommend you don’t use the font and look for an alternative.

If you absolutely have to use the font you can run “Spludlow.Drawing.Fonts.ReportFonts()” and try to figure out the font name from the registry name.

Another way, that worked for me, is install the font in Windows then go to delete it, when you get the “are you sure?” dialogue it displays the real name here.

You can also open the font in a hex editor, you should be able to spot the name in there somewhere.

Segoe UI Historic Phallus Microsoft Censorship

The Microsoft font “Segoe UI Historic” contains many ancient alphabets including Egyptian hieroglyphs.

For some reason Microsoft have removed the 3 Phallus Glyphs, but they left in U+13072 (look it up)?

If you want the complete Egyptian hieroglyphs then try the font NewGardiner.



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