Font tips: Printing type samples

When choosing a typeface to use for a project, there is no replacement for a printed type specimen. Fonts just look different when you see them in print, compared to how they look on screen. So, when you need to choose fonts for a print project, it's smart to have a type specimen book handy that shows exactly how all your fonts look on the page.

Clever developers have come up with several useful utilities for printing font specimen pages -- not only for active fonts, but also for folders full of fonts you haven't yet installed. Some of these utilities are free, but the best ones will set you back a few bucks.

Let's start with the Font Book utility that comes with Mac OS X. It can print useful type specimen pages in three different layouts, but only for the fonts the user installed via Font Book. (If you use a third-party font management utility such as Suitcase Fusion 2, FontAgent Pro or FontExplorer X Pro, the fonts you've activated in those utilities will not show up in Font Book.)

If necessary, you can temporarily activate the fonts you need to print by choosing File> Add Fonts..., then deactivate them after you've created your font specimen pages. (Deactivating them after you print is especially important if you do use one of the third-party font managers.)

Here's how to use Font Book to print type specimen pages:

1. Highlight the fonts you want to include from the list of fonts in Font Book. To select all the fonts press Command-A or Edit -> Select All. To select all the fonts in a Collection, highlight the name of the Collection and then press Command-A. To select individual fonts to print, hold down the Command key while clicking on each choice. To select a group of fonts in a row, select the first one and then hold down the Shift key while clicking on the final font you want.

2. Choose File -> Print and, if necessary, click on the triangle next to the name of your printer to see Font Book's printing options.

3. With Font Book selected in the Print Options pop-up menu, choose one of the three types of reports from the Report Type pop-up menu.

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