Creating a PDF for Lightning Source Print-on-Demand in InDesign CS4: Part 2

by | Nov 12, 2009

Last time I described how I check the status of all my linked graphics with the Link Palette, and how I re-link any missing files. The last check I make of my InDesign CS4 file before beginning the export process is to look at the book’s fonts. This is a key step in making a book file for export.

InDesign has a powerful FindFont feature on the Type menu. This article isn’t intended as a tutorial on FindFont—it’s incrediby powerful and can manipulate text within the document in amazing ways. But I use it as a super quick way to clean up any font problems to bullet proof my file farther down the production stream.

Find Font Finds Problems


It takes me a while to put a book together. I might get files from the author and from an editor. There could be material that’s been cut and pasted from other sources. I have to lay out the pages, tag the text and assign style tags throughout the document, insert graphics, all the different tasks that go into creating a book.

By the time I get to the very end of the process, the file has been worked on for many hours and contains material from lots of places. Usually I find traces of this history in the Find Font dialog. Here’s one from a recent job:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

You’ll see I’ve highlighted the Symbol font, which has an alert next to it and, below the window, you can see InDesign is reporting the font missing. Of course the font isn’t missing, but InDesign is looking for a variation of the font that doesn’t exist. Instead of Symbol [Medium] it’s trying to find Symbol [Regular].

The solution is to supply the correct variation, which you can see I’ve done in the “Replace with” windows at the bottom. Clicking “Change All” will solve the problem throughout the file.

Where Did That Come From?

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

As I’m checking the FindFont dialogue to make sure my Symbol problem has been solved, and I see the font has dropped back into its normal alphabetical order, I also note two things: the “missing font” counter has reset to 0, which is exactly where I want it to be, but what’s this? Times Roman? There is no Times Roman in my book project, so I’m surprised to find it here.

I call these fonts that appear out of nowhere “phantom” fonts. Undoubtedly this is left over from an earlier stage of the project, and might have been carried over from Microsoft Word or somewhere else in a cut and paste operation. To find the font and how it’s used, I hit the “Find Next” button, and there it is:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

InDesign has found a space or paragraph return, normally an invisible character, that’s formatted for Times Roman Regular. Note that this wouldn’t impact your book because it’s invisible anyway. But I like to clean up these phantom fonts for a couple of reasons.

First of all, the PDF that I make at the end of the process will have all fonts embedded within it. There’s no reason to unnecessarily bloat the file with fonts that aren’t even needed for the job. Also, these fonts come from lots of places on the internet, and not all of them are well behaved.

The last thing I want is for my client’s book to get hung up at the printer because there’s some trashy font embedded in the file that’s not even necessary to the book. Like all experienced book designers, I make it a habit to only use high quality fully licensed fonts, for my own protection and for my client’s well being.

Neat and Tidy at Last

I Find/Change the Times Roman and replace it with my base font for this book, Minion. Now I have a tight, fully functional font list. I know every one of these is used in the book, and they are all properly located for InDesign to find them.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

I’m finally ready to move forward with making my PDF files. I’ve reassured myself all graphics are present, properly linked, and the correct format for sending to the printer. The fonts are in order. Next, it’s on to setting up for Lightning Source’s specific output requirements.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit

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