Design With FontForge

A book about how to create new typefaces using FontForge

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General UI Introduction

FontForge has the same interface on Windows, Mac OS and GNU/Linux operating systems.

Here is a short introduction to the essential features by Dave Crossland at a Crafting Type workshop, a non-profit type design workshop that supports the FontForge project:

There are 4 main windows:

1. The Font View Window

This window appears when you first run FontForge. It shows a table of the glyphs in the font.

2. The Character View Window

Double click a glyph in the Font View to open it in the Character View. This is where you can draw and edit glyphs, either one at a time with a tab interface, or side by side with a prepared text file of words to step through.

3. The Metrics View Window

Go to Window, Metrics, or Metrics, Window. Or select some glyphs in the Font View and hit Ctrl-K. You can also drag and drop glyphs from the Font View to the Metrics View.

This is where you can adjust the spacing and kerning of your font. You can also step through a prepared word list text file here.

4. The Font Info Window

Go to Elements, Font Info. Here you’ll find all the metadata about the font.

5. The Typesetting Environment, for Testing

Outside any font editor, you’ll need a typesetting system to test your fonts in use. This is one of the big secrets of professional type designers: A lot of the most important work in a typeface design project is done outside the font editor, in testing documents created in a typesetting system. The main systems are:

  • Web (Firefox, Chromium, etc)
  • DTP tools (Scribus, Inkscape, etc)
  • Word Processors (Libre Office, AbiWord, Calligra Words, etc)
  • Programming Page Layout Processors (LaTeX, ConTeXt, SILE, ShoeBot, Even, etc)