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InDesign’s Font Manager

Almost everyone who has used InDesign has encounted the dialog box shown below. It means that one or more of the fonts in the document you just opened are missing. You have a choice here: You can ignore the problem by clicking OK, or you can fix the problem now. Clicking OK will not change the file and will allow you to work even with the missing font(s). Normally, unless you’ve turned off this feature in Composition Preferences, substituted fonts are highlighted in your document with a pink color.

Missing Fonts

To fix the problem now, click the Find Font button. This opens up the Find Font dialog box. This is InDesign’s manager for working with fonts?one of the essential resources we use when creating layouts. In this dialog box, you can identify all the fonts used in the document, or missing fonts in the document or in placed graphic files. You can do a complete Find and Replace for files in the InDesign file. At any time, you can open this dialog box by choosing Type > Find Fonts to check on the status of your fonts.

Find Font dialog

Within this dialog, you can view the fonts in the document in a scrolling list. InDesign uses the yellow alert icon to indicate missing fonts. It also indicates the type of each document font: A blue-and-white “O” for OpenType fonts, a red “a” for PostScript fonts, and a blue “TT” for TrueType fonts. A couple of other symbols appears for fonts in graphics. In the screen capture below, the PostScript font Myriad-Bold is found in a graphic. The unknown font Arcadian is also found in a graphic, but is missing. InDesign can’t tell what kind of font it is. When one of these fonts is highlighted, the Find First button shown above turns into a Find Graphic button so you can search for the graphic where the font is located.

Fonts in Graphics

To replace the fonts within the InDesign file, you can use the familiar buttons to the right: Find First, Change, Change All, and Change/Find, which function similar to the way they work in the Find/Change dialog box. However, be aware that you cannot use this dialog box to change the fonts in any placed graphics. To do this, you’ll need to open any of those graphics in the native application they were created in.

A powerful but little noticed feature was added in InDesign CS3: The Redefine Style When Changing All checkbox (circled above). Checking this allows you not only to change the fonts in the document but in all the styles using those fonts which are defined in the document as well. In InDesign CS2 and earlier, you have to manually go through each of your styles do make those changes!

Also, beginners may miss the More Info button which I also circled in the illustration above. Clicking this button opens a powerful Info section. This gives you a raft of information about each font. Select one of the fonts in the list and you can view the PostScript name, the version, any font restrictions, where the font is located in your system, how many characters are used, what pages they’re on, and a list of the styles using that font!

More Info

Finally, don’t miss the Reveal in Finder/Reveal in Explorer button on the right. Added in InDesign CS2, it allows you to click on a font in the list and be taken to that font within the Macintosh Finder or in Windows Explorer.

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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  • - November 30, -0001
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39 Comments on “InDesign’s Font Manager

  1. Great tip regarding the “Redefine Style” option!
    (little typo: 5th paragraph has “Refine Style” instead of Redefine Style”)

  2. What if the I get the alert that I’m missing a font, but it is actually on my computer located in the windows/font area? I use Indesign CS3 and recently upgraded to a new computer and operating system. The font appeared and worked fine on my XP system, but now on my Vista system Indesign claims it’s missing.

  3. Thanks, MAJ, for letting me know about the typo. I fixed it.

    Terri, I’m not an expert with fonts on Windows. I seem to recall that Windows Vista handles PostScript fonts differently, but I’m not really sure. You could try placing it in InDesign’s own Fonts folder inside the Application folder (wherever that is in Vista, can’t tell you, I’m afraid).

  4. In case I open an old document with fonts missing I’d love to see information in which folder font was last time it was still found. Or at least name of the font file. This would be very helpful when searching for some odd rarely used who-knows-where-I-got-it fonts.

  5. You mentioned working on a file with a substituted font. I don’t recommend working too much on a file with fonts missing as the size and spacing of fonts change, which can lead to a lot of rework when the original font is back in the file.

  6. What about InDesign’s propensity (on PCs at least) to occasionally list as present typefaces (usually Times or a variant thereof) that are not actually in the document? Find font doesn’t get rid of them, even though it admits there are zero instances of x font in the doc.

  7. Luke,

    InDesign does do that occasionally. First to check to make sure that it’s not really included in a style or in [Basic Paragraph]. If not, it’s what I call a “phantom font,” perhaps used earlier in the document. Try saving it as an INX (InDesign Exchange) document, and reopening it. I find that that often gets rid of phantom fonts.

  8. Thanks Steve.
    I’ll give the inx option a shot. It’s not that the phantoms cause any problems — it’s just an aesthetic thing — nice to have a tidy document.

  9. On another note about fonts, how do you set a default font in InDesign. Everytime I add a text box the default font is Times New Roman, how can I change that to another font? Thanks

  10. Adrian, Most defaults in ID are handled the same way. To set them for new documents, open InDesign but do not open or create any documents.

    Choose any defaults you’d like, such as fonts, swatches, etc. Any new files you create will then take on those attributes.

    To set defaults for existing documents, open the document and with nothing selected choose your defaults.

  11. Hi,

    In my Document (.indd) old fonts are in TTF format
    and i want to use the same fonts named in Postscript Format(.pfb,.pfm) so in Adobe PageMaker and Corel or MSOffice Application accept the Change of Fonts i have done and Data in each Application doesn’t change But in Indesign CS3 or CS4 the Data change

  12. I get a message that a font is missing. I replace it with another one and hit Change All. I save the file but when I next open it, I get the missing font message again. how do I correct this?

  13. I created a document last year using Amienne as a font. For some reason, it is now missing and the substituted font looks horrible. How can I get Amienne back? I need it, as it was for a baseball team logo. Where did it go? Thanks. I appreciate any help you can provide. Send me an e-mail.

  14. I work in a publishing company, and my co-worker and I work in the same files on two different computers. We are working with CS3. When she has worked on and saved a file, and then I open the same file on my computer, I have to “Find Fonts.” If I save the file, and she opens it on her computer, then she has to find the fonts again. We both have the same fonts on our computers. Why does this keep happening and how can we fix it permanently?

    • Amy,did you ever get this figured out? We are struggling with the same issue. We have the issue with Arial Narrow and Times New Roman. We are storing our fonts in C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\InDesign CS\Fonts.

  15. I have a nice document formatted on my Mac that uses several “dfont” suitcases. They look like crap when my colleagues open them using InDesign on Windows. I can’t see how to get those dfonts unpacked so I can give them to my Windows counterparts. Is there a really definitive resource on font handling for cross-platform environments?

  16. I see it is a while since anyone has posted on here but I am stuck! I have some InDesign artwork which has been passed to me to take care of by my agency. The fonts contained within it I dont have and my agency cannot supply as they are not opentype fonts and therefore don’t work across MAC and windows platforms. They work on MACs I work on a PC.

    Anyway, I need to purchase these fonts and am being asked the following questions:

    I need to know what format I need the font in – options are options are OT-TTF, OT-CFF, Win-TT, Win-PS, MAC-PS. When I look at the font management software (suitcase), the file options it wants to import are .pfm, .otf, .ttf or .ttc. Which do I need?

    I then need to know what type of language I need to use and the options are Standard, Pro, Com and W1G.

    I am new to design and wonder whether anyone can help?

  17. I have CS4 and when I highlight text the manager reports it as Times New Roman and that is wrong. I sometimes try to change the font by highlighting the text then selecting a different font and the name changes to whatever font I select but the highlighted text stays the same. How do I fix this??? I have already deleted the adobefnt.1st files and I am using windows 7. Thank you so much for your time!!!!

  18. I’ve been using PostScript fonts and I want to change them with OTF Fonts.
    I duplicate the files to work and I want to know if I can find fonts inside Paragraph and Character styles like the find font feature to replace them.

    Thank you

  19. I work for a company that uses a “marketing common” folder for all of our files. When we buy fonts, we keep then in a folder on this “common” and share them – download them and install on our own individual computers.

    We constantly have the issue of “missing fonts”…even if we download the font, it sometimes turns into another version of the font (IT or ITC…etc). This makes it extremely difficult to work on projects that others have started. Does anyone know if there is a way to have common fonts on all computers…is there any kind of software or some sort of trick that will help with this annoying & frequent problem! Any tips &/or help with this issue would be greatly appreciated.


  20. How can I permanently change “REPLACE WITH” font family? For example: I’m using Myriad Pro as default font for tables. But whenever I import table from word document and go to replace fonts, by default REPLACE WITH font family is Minion Pro. I’m not talking about Basic paragraph style.

    Thank You!

  21. Similar problem with fonts and I can’t seem to find any help on the web! Problem: Font missing. I go to the Find Font dialog and the option to Change All goes gray when I get to the missing font. The missing font is Helvetica. All of the other fonts in my document have the option Change All active in the Find Font dialog, it is only Helvetica that is giving me problems. It will be really annoying when I have to go through the document and change all of my text boxes manually.

  22. สมัครสมาชิก กับเรา
    ได้อย่างรวดเร็วเนื่องจาก ทีมงานเรามีบริการฝาก-ถอน ผ่าน 5 ธนาคารในประเทศไทย

  23. HI, in Indesign, control panel – for the font choice I have selected something in error and as a result I can only select/change fonts to fonts supplied via Typeset or that I have ‘starred’…how can I retrieve the full font list as per usual? thanks

  24. I am replacing old Avenir T1 fonts with regular Avenir using this method in Adobe CC. However, when I do this, the line moves 3 spaces lower than the original placement. I have 42 manuals that I am doing this to, including Master Pages….and the result moves much of my text in Text Boxes out of the Box, so it is not seen. I have to manually go into all of my Master Pages and open up the Text box manually, then move the font three spaces back up to its original position. Obviously this cant happen with over 1200 pages that I am replacing the fonts with…..

    Is there a work around? PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!

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