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Easy font activation using Document Fonts

One of the challenges of the InCopy workflow can be making sure that all users participating in the workflow have access to all of the fonts used in the InDesign document(s). Many companies have a set of standard fonts that are used for projects within an organization and will load those fonts onto everyone’s computer so that they are available for use in InCopy. In some workflows however, this consistency doesn’t exist and fonts change on a regular basis or there’s a feature in a publication that uses a font that is different from the norm. This can create a lot of frustration because in order to edit content that uses one of these fonts with copyfit accuracy, the font needs to be loaded so it’s available to InCopy. This often requires a call to IT which often takes more time than most of us have to spare.

InDesign document with pink highlighting indicating missing fonts.

The dreaded pink highlighting of missing fonts.

Document Fonts

The Document Fonts feature in InDesign is a great way to activate fonts without having to activate them using a font management program or having to install them on your system. What many people forget or are unaware of is that Document Fonts can be a great benefit to InCopy users as well. Here’s how the feature works. If you put fonts into a folder called Document Fonts (spelling is important) and that Document Fonts folder lives in the same folder as the InDesign file, InDesign will automatically activate those fonts when the InDesign document is opened. Now the same thing works for InCopy in a layout based workflow. If you open the InDesign document using InCopy, the fonts will be automatically activated when the file is opened.

The waters get a little muddied however in an assignment based workflow because the assignments are stored in a separate folder than the InDesign document by default and therefore will not be able to activate the fonts when the assignment file is opened.

Finder window showing the files used in a project.

Typical organization of files in an InCopy workflow.

Making Document Fonts available to the assignments

The solution is to simply make sure that the Document Fonts folder is available to the assignment file. You don’t want to simply move the folder because then the fonts won’t be available to InDesign although if the designer has all of the fonts loaded on their computer this may not even be an issue. A simple solution is to copy the Document Fonts folder into the Assignments folder or whichever folder you are using to store your assignments. Now when you open the assignment file, the fonts are loaded and the document looks as expected.

With the Document Fonts available, the fonts are loaded and the layout looks as expected.

With the Document Fonts available, the fonts are loaded and the layout looks as expected.

The downside to this method is that if you need to add a font to the Document Fonts folder, you need to add it in two places. I thought that we might be able to solve this problem by creating an alias of the Document Fonts folder and putting it in the Assignments folder but the alias unfortunately didn’t work. If you really want to be efficient and have one folder appear in two places, you’ll need to create a symbolic link. You can do this on both Mac and Windows platforms and it solves the problem of having two separate folders. This last part might be overkill for some users and a savior to others. Either way, Document Fonts takes the headache out of the InCopy workflow allowing users to focus on the task at hand.

Chad Chelius

Chad Chelius

Chad Chelius is an Adobe Certified Instructor, Author, and Consultant in the Philadelphia area and works with clients to improve their creative workflows using Adobe products. He's also the author of several courses on He specializes in PDF accessibility using Adobe InDesign and is a regular speaker at The InDesign Conference and PePcon.
Chad Chelius

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