Font lessons learned the hard way


In 2015, I was publishing a book for the first time, after spending a gazillion years writing the first book in my Pride’s Children mainstream trilogy, PURGATORY.

Newbies have a lot to learn, and it is an intense experience if you do it yourself, and you’re pretty sure there’s no way you will forget the steps.

But you have to allow for change – from the outside world – and it won’t take you or your needs into account.

I forgot two major things: software changes and computer crashes.

Software changes negate some changes you make to your copy

I was barely surviving, even back in 2015 when I spent a summer learning graphics and covers and formatting, and I thought that, between my notes and my blog posts, I was saving enough information to do it again with the second book in the trilogy (eventually named NETHERWORLD).

I didn’t even think – no spare brain cells – that the process would be different in a few years, and that it would take me seven to write the next book. Seven is a big number of years in computers.

Because of several computer crashes during those years, and a coast-to-coast move from New Jersey to California, I had to rely on backups for some of my major applications, and sometimes those backups came from outside my own storage systems.

When you download such a backup, you get a pristine copy, ONE THAT DOESN’T HAVE YOUR MODIFICATIONS.

And the major mod that bit me was that on several of my indispensable applications, including Word, Scrivener, and Pixelmator, I had installed fonts I used for the interior and the exterior of the book – duly licensed and paid for – because I liked them.

Find your fonts: on your computer – or download them again

Because I included a Design Notes page at the end of the printed copies of PURGATORY, I had a list of all the fonts I used, their licensing information, and where I’d downloaded them from; plus where I’d licensed them from, with a copy of the invoice and registration information.

Not easily accessible – I didn’t think they would disappear, so I was cavalier about storing them properly – but (and here I credit Apple for saving my bacon several times by making a back of my data at the time of the crashes) they were there on my computer backups, and I eventually located all my information.

Font information is now stored in a MUCH clearer fashion, in a folder on my Desktop labeled 2022 PC Storage/2022 PC FONTS (incl PC1 fonts), and backed up on my computer and in the iCloud, so I won’t have to do this again.

[NOTE: this is where I’m trying to save other users, especially self-published authors (SPAs), time and effort – do this from the beginning, and add all new fonts to this storage system, and don’t be like Alicia.]

Fonts I use for covers or exteriors for Pride’s Children:

  • Alido (monospaced, from SummitSoft, licensed in the Big Graphics Bundle)
  • New Yorker (a very good imitation of the expensive official one, free from Allen R. Walden, to be credited)
  • Goudy Serial (from SoftMakerSoftwareGmbH, licensed) in 6 weights
  • Sorts Mill Goudy (free from Barry Schwarz, credit)
  • Cambria (pre-installed, licensed for all uses with MS Office)
  • Book Antiqua (monospaced, pre-installed, licensed for all uses with MS Office)

Saving – and printing out and saving in physical form – the licensing information is a good idea; fonts are someone’s Intellectual Property, and you don’t want problems with a published book because you don’t have the required information handy to prove you licensed what you use – SPAs are a small business, and it helps to behave like one.

Install the fonts on your system

Before you do anything with additional fonts, they have to be installed on your computer in a form you can then add to your software.

For the Macs, this means installing them into the app Font Book, which couldn’t be simpler (assuming the font is one of the approved font types – which I found listed at Apple Support).

The extra fonts I chose for PURGATORY were all .otf or .ttf, which made it vastly simpler for me: double click on the font, Font Book opens automatically, click Install.

Book Antiqua and Cambria were IN the Font Book already, which makes me think that installing Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac also installed the Office fonts properly. Thanks, Microsoft!

Transfer the fonts to your software – if necessary

On the Mac I don’t have to do this! All the fonts in the Font Book that are not grayed out were now available when I opened Pixelmator!

And now I’m back where I was, font-wise, before the computer crashes and the move, and know a lot more than I did then.



14 thoughts on “Font lessons learned the hard way

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Hi, Jack! Nice to see you here.

      Thanks for the boost – I was really flummoxed when I realized my carefully-chosen fonts were not there, and I had no idea at first why, or where they’d gone.

      Maybe my couple of days of having to re-do the whole thing (thank goodness for my Design Notes pages!), and relearn the whole deal about fonts (thank goodness I eventually found my invoices, etc.), when my brain has been, at best, challenged lately, will save someone else some time and distress.

      That’s why we blog, partly anyway.


  1. Pingback: Alicia’s Great Font Adventure – Tales Told in Darkness

  2. acflory

    I use standard fonts so they’re not an issue for me, but being organized and doing backups /is/. I’ve learned the hard way that no, I won’t remember what/how/when/why I did X.
    I had to smile when I realised that we both use blog posts as memory boxes. 😀


        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          They’re OUR blogs – we can do whatever we want.

          I have the two, one for my ‘writing and everything else,’ and one for the books (where I can be a more serious person).

          I try to post to each occasionally, but had had a very long brain fog episode and found I hadn’t posted in a while. So getting back to posting, as a result of playing with the pain med which caused the fog, showed the new schedule – and lower dose – was an improvement.

          Because when I’ve been ‘out’ for a while, the first thing to come back seems to be any interest in blogging.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. acflory

          Very true. I made myself a promise when I started blogging – I would write about /my/ passions, and to hell with the rest of the world. Much to my surprise, I built a field and [some] people came. I love the fact that those who come and stay almost always turns into friends. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          It’s one way to find like-minded people – something about topics and how a blogger writes about them helps.

          I say you write as who you are, and the more you write, the less you hide about yourself. Which means I could probably be psychoanalyzed cradle to now (assuming I believed in that) just from my habit of using blogs and social media posts as writing prompts. In moderation.

          There are thousands of my comments out there – the little text boxes give me a way to get the brain cells a small enough task to get us going.

          Fortunately, I go by the general rule of not saying anything online I wouldn’t say to the person face to face. And I’m not running for office.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. acflory

          Yes, it’s quite amazing how organic the process actually is.
          My guiding principle is that I’ll attack a concept or behavour, but never the /person/. Apart from the fact that I’d be ashamed to have to resort to such tactics, it’s a totally futile strategy. I truly do not understand the mentality behind it. I suspect it’s part of the ‘win at any cost’ idea that’s so prevalent in the West these days. :/


  3. Lee McAulay

    Great post, thank you – and a good reminder.
    I can’t recreate the book covers for my pre-2014 novels because the font I used for some of the background elements was on a previous computer… and I can’t remember what it was.
    For the book of blog posts I published earlier this year, I took a leaf from mainstream publishing and added a list of the fonts I’d used in the print version. Yay!
    (…And now, of course, I recall that I didn’t include the fonts for the fancy curlicques and text separators… duh.)


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Take an image of the text from your previous covers. Then look for an online program that identifies fonts – you’d be surprised what you might be able to recover. I remember doing that once – I think.

      The other fun font thing was acquiring a font based on my handwriting. I used the letters on my logo. It was easy, and there are several people who offer it: you fill the boxes with your best version of your handwriting, and they turn it into a font. I always send people who do things that are useful like this the small donation they request.

      Good luck. I have that Design Notes page at the end of the print book, and I think somewhere in the ebook (but of course that’s set up so the user chooses font and size).

      In the ebook, I use html that selects the font size one point smaller for things like epigraphs than the font the user chooses, so I still get that effect. And very basic decorations either side of the chapter title, etc. – something like ~ which every font has a version of.



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