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Fix Font Problems Correctly

Those who have worked with fonts for a long time have developed a lore about them, and how to handle them successfully. One of these pieces of knowledge is that if you’re having font problems (fonts which don’t display correctly, for example), a possible solution is to delete the AdobeFnt files on your computer. I was reminded of this because of a post this week by Adobe’s resident font guru, Thomas Phinney, on his blog.

What are these mysterious files which appear in odd places in your computer? For example, when I did a search this morning on my computer, here’s a partial list of what I found:

SearchAdobeFnt Files

It turns out that these are font cache files. Your operating system and Adobe’s own font technology (used in all the Adobe Creative Suite applications) create cache files to make font display faster. It’s rather a rare event, but because these files may be updated and modified, it’s possible that they, like all files on your computer, may get corrupted. The symptoms of corruption might be a font which displays incorrectly. (This can also be caused by a corrupted font as well. But that would require a separate article!)

You can freely delete font cache files because the operating system or the Adobe font mechanism automatically generates new ones when it needs them. Thomas’ post is to tell you how to correctly delete these files. If you do a search like I did, you’ll see a large number of files with the extension *.lst. These are the font cache files which you may want to delete.

The confusion is that there are also two files whose names begin with AdobeFnt, which you don’t want to delete. One of them is the AdobeFnt.db file I’ve circled in the illustration above. The other is the FntNames.db file. For the archane details of what these files do, I’ll refer you to Thomas’ blog entry.

But there’s nothing wrong with having these files! They normally do no harm, and they probably speed up your font display. You only need to delete them in the event you were having a problem.

Steve Werner

Steve Werner

Steve Werner is a trainer, consultant, and co-author (with David Blatner and Christopher Smith) of InDesign for QuarkXPress Users and Moving to InDesign. He has worked in the graphic arts industry for more than 20 years and was the training manager for ten years at Rapid Lasergraphics. He has taught computer graphics classes since 1988.
Steve Werner

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51 Comments on “Fix Font Problems Correctly

  1. Just a note that the comment about “you only need to delete them in the event you were having a problem” could potentially be construed as applying to the above mentioned AdobeFnt.db and FntNames.db, which would be a mistake. There is nothing wrong with purging the AdobeFnt*.lst files (or any other font cache file from Apple, Microsoft, etc.), but you may need to restart applications (or your OS) afterwards so they can be recreated (e.g., you don’t want to purge the font caches while an application that may be using them is active).

  2. I’ve been told by a reliable source that it is possible to identify the corrupted ones by their size. If they look bigger than all the others by an obvious lead, say 100kb, then ditch them. The source told me that they can casue all kids of erratic behavious in Illustrator and even in the OS itself. (PS Thanks for a great site!)

  3. U usually don’t need to be so extreeme. A luxury problem is that programs don’t crash “enough” so that cashed files are deleted, but the program still needs them. If InDesign or a CS app is open for more than a couple of days u may just need to quit & start the application, restarting the computer 2 times a week is can save many headaches (I remember having to restart a couple of times to open a file :) )

  4. Since I installed InDesign 2CS, I have never been able to open a document by double-clicking on the icon. I have to go through the program: file, open and then click on the icon. It’s rather frustrating. Any suggestions are welcome.
    (P.S. What a wonderful and informative website. Thank you.)

  5. Truus,

    You may have the wrong file association between an InDesign file and the application. However, the way you would fix this would be different depending on your operating system. Are you on Mac or PC?

  6. I have found Font Nuke to be invaluable as well. Sometime a font will refuse to load in InDesign, even after reseting OS X’s font cache by rebooting into safe mode. Running Font Nuke fixes the problem. I’ll try manually deleting some of these various font caches to see if there is one in particular that is causing this problem.

  7. Since using InDesign CS3, when I print a document originally made in CS2, the text is smaller than previous CS2 copies.

    Any comments would be welcome.

  8. The text prints smaller?! Wow, that’s odd. The only thing I can think of is that perhaps Scale to Fit got turned on in your Print dialog box somehow. (And so the page might get scaled down at print time.)

  9. Recently I have had a font problem. My equation editor in msword 2003 is not displaying the equations I am writing. I am not a computer person but I would appreciate a fix to this problem. I am writing a maths book and I am anxious hours of work have go to waste. Please help.

  10. Tom, are you saying the equations don’t appear in InDesign properly? Or that they don’t appear in MS Word properly? We’re an InDesign site, so I’m guessing we won’t be able to help you with the latter.

  11. We are having a problem getting ITC Garamond 1 to work properly with InDesign CS3. The bold shows up in suitcase and font book, but will not appear in the font list of InDesign. The light, light italic and bold italic appear to work okay.

  12. While using InDesign CS2, whenever I type the letters F and L together with the Clarendon Condensed font, the letters do not print. Any ideas how to resolve this issue?

  13. Tim, does it print correctly from any other application? Perhaps that font doesn’t have an fl ligature? Try putting a little kerning between the two letters to break the ligature apart?

  14. 100k is the limit for me. It seems to give me the least amount of problems and following this guideline makes everything just run better.

  15. In InDesign CS2 when my type goes to print, some fonts such as Comic Sans MS and Palatino and sometimes Times Roman the “f & l” or “f & i” font does not print when typed in a word together. Like the word “floor” or “fixture” or”Pacific”. What causes this? I am using a MAC OS X, version 10.4.11.
    If I have to find all my “fl and fi” letters in a huge body of text, this could take forever to put a kern in them.

    Any quick fixes to this problem?

  16. I’ve installed InDesign CS4 and the bugs are really bugging me. One in particular: it doesn’t recognize that I have Arial Narrow on my machine. A file that looks fine in CS4, doesn’t work in CS4. When I try to find the font, it offers me something called Arial Narrow Special CG1 (or some such). This is really irritating and making me sorry that I upgraded before they delivered the first patch for the program. Man, is Adobe sloppy…another bug is one in Acrobat which makes it impossible to drag and replace pages across documents. It always adds them, instead of replacing. Any suggestions for either of these probs?

  17. @David Blatner – Thanks for the link to that post vis a vis my Arial Narrow problem, but unfortunately, that doesn’t fix it

    I’ve rebuilt the font list and CS4 still won’t recognize Arial Narrow on my system. The CS3 INDD does, and Word does, but for some reason CS4 INDD just won’t find it and continues only to list the Arial Narrow Special fonts (Oddly enough, I can see both the “regular” Arial Narrow and the Arial Narrow “specials” in Word).

    This is a BIG problem in my workflow, as it inhibits filesharing with my officemates. And I HAVE to share files with others.

    Any other suggestions would be much appreciated. (For what it’s worth, I’m running Word 2003 on an XP platform).

  18. I’ve had this problem off and on for over a year now and today I finally got a handle on what’s going on. I had just loaded a new font when all of my fonts in InDesign stopped working. Once I deleted that font and cleared the System and Adobe font caches all my fonts worked again.

  19. I often help a friend design their newsletters etc and I am having huge font problems when we transfer the file between computers. He uses a Mac, I am using a PC with Vista.

    When I design the page everything is fine, but when he opens it (and visa versa) many of the fonts, even the most commonly used fonts such as Arial will have OTF after them and the text will be pinked out.

    It is driving us crazy as the fonts will just have a subtitle change between the two, like it wont list Arial Narrow but it will give you Arial, with a drop down list option of Narrow, or bold.

    Please can you tell me what is happening. Thanks

  20. @Debbie WG: For cross-platform work, it’s best to standardize on OpenType fonts. Windows fonts don’t usually work well on the Mac, and vice versa. But OpenType fonts work on both.

  21. I’m wondering if Kevo ever found a solution? I just upgraded to CS4 and no CS4 applications will recognize that I have Arial Narrow (any weight) or arial black on my system. I’m running windows XP and Microsoft 2007. I tried the hotfix and deleted all adobefnt**.lst files I found. Still no go. Unfortunately, substituting those two is not an option.

  22. Kriss, I recently had this problem in a corporate setting so getting it fixed was even more difficult. After several attempts, the fix was to copy the Arial Narrow fonts from another computer and place them in the Program Files > Common Files > Adobe > Fonts folder. Appartenly the Arial Narrow fonts on this computer were corrupt or not the correct ones. All I know is it works now.

  23. Another question: Has anyone ever experienced the joy of copying PPT slides into a InDesign document? I have had the privelage today, and for some reason when viewing in High Quality Display, the text on the pasted screenshots changes from Arial Bold to Arial Narrow Bold. Somehow it appears the font is being replaced in the pasted graphic. I have verified with co-workers on different brands of PC’s and they are not having the problem. Any suggestions?

  24. Anybody ever see this: When I type the letters “mp” together using Helvetica Neue 45 light, they appear as a capital U with dots over it! The only way I can get them to display properly is to enter them using the Glyphs menu! (This is a problem with words like “Champion” and “Campaign.”)

  25. Mary,

    If you select the ‘mp’ in their Ü form and de-select “Ligatures” in the Character panel, does that fix it?

    What does the Info panel say with just this character selected? (The Unicode value.) What has Glyph panel to say?

  26. Using CS4 Indesign and cannot get the ITC Garamon bold to show on the menu. There was a talk about it in the post and I would like to know how to fix the problem. I used FontNuke but to no avail. Thanks

  27. I had a reply with a solution. To Put the font in IDs font folder. ITC Garamond Bold work like a charm now with ID CS4. Thanks

  28. I am using InDesign CS4 & I can’t seem to figure out what is going on with my text. I have several documents created with fonts in various colors, but when I print, only some of them turn to black. (should be dark brown, blue & white) Any suggestions?

  29. Sarah-

    Some of the documents or some of the fonts?

    If it’s document wide, they may have been printed with the setting Text as Black in the Output tab of the print dialog. Print settings are sticky so this will stay on until someone prints with it off.

    If it’s only certain instances of text within a document, it could be overprinting (check your overprint preview) or some weird color conversion settings, but those are just guesses.

  30. Thank you so much for your reply Mike! It turned out it was the Output setting “Text As Black” You have saved the day :)

  31. When I open an existing InDesign document in CS5.5 the fonts do not automatically open like they did in CS5. Why?
    I use Suitcase Fusion 3 with the latest updates.

  32. I have a problem with Hindi Fonts, one of the characters of the font gets corrupted, probably when used in MS word. After it happens, this character gets replaced by another one in all programs I am using Like Pagemaker, QuarkExp., CoralDraw etc. except Word pad. Please let me know through email , why it is happening and what is the cure.

    It will be a great help.


  33. Let’s say you were stupid and deleted your .db files. Is there an easy way to get them back without reinstalling Adobe Illustrator?

  34. I’m using Shelly Volante files and InDesign CS5. I can’t make this font bol, underline, etc. If I have a document from way back (pagemaker) with it in bold and I convert, thos strings are ok. I can’t make new type bold. Quite frustrating. I did buy new font files for windows 7, 64.


  35. Ton, there is no such thing as a bold Shelley Volante. AndInDesign does not create faux versions of fonts, you have to do so manually — and usually that’s a good thing too (at best it will make you consider using a font that does have a real bold).

    If you have an existing file where this bold is used, you could simply check how it was done in there. Probably fauxed by adding an outline, I’d guess.

    There is no reason, by the way, underlining should not work with every font. Perhaps your InDesign has become corrupted in some way.

  36. Really hope you can help me. Have a CS6 InDesign file, originally created in CS4. The file has thousands of MathType equations , placed with the Word file when did the original layout. Need to work on the file again and now, some of the fonts are not working in SOME of the equations. Mostly Times New Roman ital is appearing as Helvetica but also some instances of Symbol not getting italicized in some Trig equations. In the links palette, the little preview to the left of the link shows the problem equations correctly (the ital is showing there) but it’s not viewable in the layout. When I try to edit the eps in Illustrator to fix, I’m still not getting the Ital to show….but when I try to edit the equation in MathType, the Ital DOES show. This is making me crazy! And we have thousands of these to possibly fix. Any ideas? How to resolve the font conflicts…is it an InDesign / MathType bug in CS 6?

  37. @bert: Sounds like a frustrating font problem, and not anything specific to InDesign or Adobe apps. Maybe you have different versions of Times and Symbol on your system (perhaps you updated something since creating the equations?) I don’t use mathtype, but don’t you have to open the mathtype equation then export a new graphic and then relink to InDesign? Does it work like that?

  38. Hi David…I heard back from the folks at MathType about this and is has to do with how MathType inserted equations into Word…back in 2010 it was PICTs, which would then convert to EPS. But since then, with OS X changes, the native graphics format has changed so the PICT-to-EPS conversion is problematic when some people try to use the old files. Arrgh..We tried to run an action in Illustrator that converted all the “bad” fonts (in my case Myriad) to the good font (TNR italic) which worked great, but when we relinked the EPS’s, with the same file names, it brought them in larger than in
    the original layout! So a whole new problem…..the fun continues! Thanks for your input….

  39. Help. I have copied over a word document file into indesign CS6 numbers are not being translate correctly. For instance I have ‘5 or 7’ but when placed into Indesign is comes out ‘5 or ?’. I don’t understand what the problem is, can somebody please help

    • Beata,

      In the future, you may want to consider posting questions in the forum section. It gives you more flexibility in posting and it is more likely to be answered.

      It appears that you may have carried some formatting over from the previous document.

      First ensure that you have a suitable replacement font. Select Type > Find Font. This dialog will allow you to replace missing fonts with something suitable.

      If you find that the font you need to use still does not have the glyphs and you still have those squares, you may need to do some find and replaces.

      There maybe an easier way to tackle this but this is how I do it.

      1. Select a sample of the missing glyphs and run through your fonts until you find one that displays them properly.
      2. For each of the characters that were giving you and issue, you will do a find/replace. If it is a seven, replace it with a standard seven on your keyboard.

      In addition, here is another article that may be helpful with handling glyphs:

  40. This procedure is relevant to those working with ‘Trial or Test Fonts’. It is a fantastic step forward that many font foundries now offer trial versions of their fonts, as this greatly helps designers sell an idea to a client–by prototyping with the font they intend to use.

    You may run into problems with corrupt InDesign files, when replacing trial fonts with their fully licensed version. I encountered this particularly when creating e-pub documents. When trouble-shooting font display issues for e-pub or corrupt InDesign files, deleting the font cache should definitely be considered.

  41. Help related to Using Unicode Fonts (Hindi) in Adobe Indesign CS4. Input from MS Word 2007 in Mangal Font using Google translation (English to Hindi). How to copy and paste the text received from clients into Adobe Indesign CS4 (for making the Annual Report in Hindi). Please Suggest. Tried IndicPlus but not working (all matras and letters gets jumbled up — huge text with nearly 120 pages (A4)). Kindly suggest a suitable solution.
    Thx in advance. Till now I have been insisting only on accepting word file with text in Aryan2Bilingual font only, which is the only font I can copy and paste from Word files. But my clients insist on using Mangal fonts.

    • ARao: This is probably a better question for our forums, not an old blog post. However, there is one clue you mention: are you copying and pasting? That usually does not work well. I suggest using File > Place.

      • David Blatner: Thank you very much for your kind reply. Your suggestion is working well for Aryan2Bilingual font (Hindi)….still the problem with Mangal font (unicode Hindi font) continues.

  42. Hi, my colleague has Baskerville regular and I have Baskerville normal which are the same font but each time we open each others documents it says we don’t have the font. could it be he has apple and I have windows? HELP

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