Designer using fonts on MacOS? This article is a must-read!

If you use your Mac professionally, you most likely also work with fonts.

Fonts are essential for designs and professional print.

And if corrupt, they can cause issues, even crash applications upon launch. Or change your output.

One of the best articles I have ever read, summarizing font usage, font management and how to solve font issues is this article by Kurt Lang. I feel it is a must-read for everyone:

Kurt has been a frequent poster on Apple’s forums and is constantly updating his article. If you benefit from his article, please consider making a small contribution via PayPal.

Both an engineer and a layout artist, Matthias bridges the gap between technology and people.

Before joining Quark, Matthias pioneered print, Web, and multimedia products for multiple German publishing companies. Since 1997 he has played a central role in shaping Quark’s desktop and enterprise software.
Starting 2003 Matthias has focused on Quark’s interactive and digital publishing solutions. He is an active participant in design and publishing communities and represents Quark in the Ghent PDF Workgroup.

Since February 2014 Matthias heads Quark’s Desktop Publishing business unit and is therefore responsible for QuarkXPress.

Charting, graphing and timekeeping with OpenType specialist fonts

When QuarkXPress introduced colour Open Type transformations in 2016, there was just one font, Chartwell, that could take advantage of them. Chartwell was a neat trick: you type in numbers, and it turns them into graphs and charts. But Chartwell was expensive, and it only offered a few, fairly basic, chart types. Times have moved on: with more support, more font makers are making self-transforming icon fonts. But they’re hard to find (mainly because there’s no established word to describe them). It’s time to have another look, because there’s a lot more available now, and some of it is free.

Self-transforming fonts
Self-transforming fonts: Chartwell, Amazing Infographic, Spark and Clocko

Essentially, all of these fonts take advantage of the programming capabilities in OpenType. Fonts have been available for 20 years that offer you pie charts, but these depend on having one glyph for every different pie. These looked quite cool at the time, but they really only offered one colour fonts, and could only show 10%, 20%, 30% and so on, with just one thing. Self-transforming fonts are like going from candles to colour changing LED lights.

The fonts we’re going to look at are Chartwell version 2, Amazing Infographic, AtF Spark and Clocko. Amazing Infographic and Spark are available for free, Clocko for a few dollars, and Chartwell for $25 for a single style, and around the $300 mark for all eighteen styles. Chartwell, Amazing Infographic and Spark do charts and graphs, while Clocko does (you guessed it) clocks.

If you’re interested in how the trick is done, OpenType has a basic programming language built into it so that, when you type ‘if’ it can set the correct ligature (QuarkXPress can do this for non-OpenType fonts as well), or combine a letter and its accent. As OpenType has grown up, this has steadily advanced, so that there are now all kinds of tricks that can be done. These are designed to make creating and managing fonts and their variants easier and more consistent, but, as with anything, clever people quickly start finding other uses for them. Before you start reaching for the trial version of FontLab VI to make your own, you ought to know that creating self-transforming fonts require a fairly unique pairing of design and programming skills, and a lot of work.

But you don’t need to be able to create them to make use of them.

Use case

First, though, what’s the use case?

Let’s see. You’re doing a corporate report, and the PR team who wrote it want you to include lots of little bar and pie charts. They’ve helpfully sent you a hundred Excel charts to include, each with about five numbers in them. Now, you could copy and paste all these charts as native objects, reformat them all to match the corporate style and then paste them one by one anchored in the text, but, first, this is a lot of work, and, second, you can just bet that they’re going to come back at the last minute and want to change half the numbers, or, worse, decide that the bars should be pies, the pies lines, and the lines circles.

Now, I have to say that, when I first bought Chartwell, I was doing exactly that, and it was a fairly simple business decision to pay the $300 and save myself a couple of days work, which, within the total project price, was a win for me, and a win for my customer.


The original Chartwell could do a few things, but version 2, which has now been repackaged into a co-ordinate series and a volume/area series, does areas, lines, rings, roses, radars, bubbles, scatters, and floating lines. You can’t delete your copy of Excel yet, but almost anything that will actually look clean and good in a corporate report can be achieved with Chartwell.

In use, it’s very easy:

Chartwell numbers only

You just type in the numbers, put a + between them, and then turn the Open Type feature ‘discretionary ligatures’ to on. The one annoying thing about Chartwell is that the charts come out quite small, so you have to blow them up. To use different colours, you have to have the QuarkXPress preference Project: General: Allow OpenType Transformations on Mixed Colour Text turned on.

Chartwell font in use

If you add particular prefixes, such as A=, you get gridlines. What you get depends on which font variant you’re using, but the instructions are clear and comprehensive, though I find I have to look them up again every time for anything complicated.

This is all well and good, and if you’ve got a job coming up that will pay for them, it’s an easy purchase to make.

Amazing Infographic

On the other hand, if you just want to play around, or you’ve got those kind of clients who demand everything but are never willing to pay for it, then investing $300 might seem a bit of a stretch. In that case—or if you just like having different options—then you should definitely take a look at Amazing Infographic. This font does bar charts, circle charts, pie charts and people icons. The syntax is a little different. For the examples at the top, you would type in @c@c099% @b@b6262% @p@p8787%. Like Chartwell, you can change the colours, and, unlike Chartwell, you can put numbers in charts, regularly coloured or reversed out. Your corporate clients might be more demanding on having exactly the type of chart they want, but, for a bit of fun, a newsletter, or pitching to the client what you could really do if they only had the budget, Amazing Infographic will do the things you’re most likely to want, and for free.

AtF Spark

AtF Spark is made for creating sparklines, which are those in-line charts which you see in the financial pages of newspapers, and anywhere else people can think of putting them. Spark is also free. To quote Edward Tufte, who popularised them, “A sparkline is a small intense, simple, word-sized graphic with typographic resolution.” The Spark font does bars, rows of dots, or dot lines. Again, the format is slightly different. For the examples at the top, you would type: {10,20,30,40,50,60,70,80,90,100} 4,1,5,6,1,5,4,2,3,4,2,5,4,2,5,7,3,5,8,7,7,7,8,9}, and you select a different variant from the six Spark fonts. Unlike Chartwell, AtF Spark has been exactly sized to fit on the line, and works (as it were) ‘out of the box’.


For a change of pace, Clocko makes clocks. At only $5, I bought it because I just couldn’t resist it, even though I didn’t actually have a commercial use for it at the time (and still don’t). In interface terms, it could teach all of the others something about user-friendliness. All you do is type in the time, like 12:23, and then set the font to Clocko. If you make an error, it just displays the numbers you typed. If you put a letter of the alphabet in front, you get different frames for the clock. In the examples at the top, I typed x12:23 y14:22 z1:32. As with the others, you can alter the colours, though this is not as useful (or attractive) as it is in regular charts.

What’s next?

So far as I know, these are the only infographic type fonts which use OpenType transformations (I would be very interested in hearing about any others). There are a lot more fonts out there which use the transformations the way they were designed. But more will be along. Over the last year, the OpenType specification has gone through another round of expansion, and we’ll be seeing ever more possibilities. Right now, available colour fonts and variable fonts are at the strictly novelty stage, but we’re going to be seeing some genuinely useful examples appearing over the next twelve months.

Perhaps as importantly, the latest iteration of FontLab, which is arguably the most significant font design tool, makes the business of designing harmonious, well-balanced and well-kerned fonts, and manipulating them with OpenType substitutions, dramatically quicker than it was previously—although long-term users are complaining that it looks and feels different.

The other thing to keep an eye on is font-licensing. There are still, regrettably, amateur designers putting out fonts marked as ‘for personal use only’. Some websites tell you about this before you download them, but, with others, you have to check the license carefully when you get them. My rule is: if I can’t use it for every project, then it doesn’t get space on my system. Mercifully, we are seeing more fonts issued under the SIL font license, which protects the font name (so we don’t have a thousand unofficial variations on the same font), but allows derivative versions and modifications.


Martin Turner is the author of Desk Top Publishing with QuarkXPress 2016, Desk Top Publishing with QuarkXPress 2017, and presenter on the video series Desk Top Publishing with QuarkXPress.

QuarkXPress 2016 now supports 77 OpenType features (plus 5)


Here’s a list of all 77 OpenType features supported by the user interface of QuarkXPress 2016 (12.2), both Run based features and Glyph based features:

  1. aalt – Access All Alternates
  2. afrc – Alternative Fractions
  3. c2sc – Small Capitals From Capitals
  4. calt – Contextual Alternates
  5. case – Case-Sensitive Forms
  6. clig – Contextual Ligatures
  7. cpsp – Capital Spacing
  8. cwsh – Contextual Swash
  9. dlig – Discretionary Ligatures
  10. dnom – Denominators
  11. expt – Expert Forms
  12. frac – Fractions
  13. fwid – Full Widths
  14. halt – Alternate Half Widths
  15. hist – Historical Forms
  16. hkna – Horizontal Kana Alternates
  17. hngl – Hangul
  18. hojo – Hojo Kanji Forms (JIS X 0212-1990 Kanji Forms)
  19. hwid – Half Widths
  20. ital – Italics
  21. jp04 – JIS2004 Forms
  22. jp78 – JIS78 Forms
  23. jp83 – JIS83 Forms
  24. jp90 – JIS90 Forms
  25. kern – Kerning
  26. liga – Standard Ligatures
  27. lnum – Lining Figures
  28. locl – Localized Forms
  29. nlck – NLC Kanji Forms
  30. numr – Numerators
  31. onum – Oldstyle Figures
  32. ordn – Ordinals
  33. ornm – Ornaments
  34. palt – Proportional Alternate Widths
  35. pnum – Proportional Figures
  36. pwid – Proportional Widths
  37. qwid – Quarter Widths
  38. ruby – Ruby Notation Forms
  39. salt – Stylistic Alternates
  40. sinf – Scientific Inferiors
  41. smcp – Small Capitals
  42. smpl – Simplified Forms
  43. ss01 – Stylistic Set 1
  44. ss02 – Stylistic Set 2
  45. ss03 – Stylistic Set 3
  46. ss04 – Stylistic Set 4
  47. ss05 – Stylistic Set 5
  48. ss06 – Stylistic Set 6
  49. ss07 – Stylistic Set 7
  50. ss08 – Stylistic Set 8
  51. ss09 – Stylistic Set 9
  52. ss10 – Stylistic Set 10
  53. ss11 – Stylistic Set 11
  54. ss12 – Stylistic Set 12
  55. ss13 – Stylistic Set 13
  56. ss14 – Stylistic Set 14
  57. ss15 – Stylistic Set 15
  58. ss16 – Stylistic Set 16
  59. ss17 – Stylistic Set 17
  60. ss18 – Stylistic Set 18
  61. ss19 – Stylistic Set 19
  62. ss20 – Stylistic Set 20
  63. subs – Subscript
  64. sups – Superscript
  65. swsh – Swash
  66. titl – Titling Alternates
  67. tnam – Traditional Name Forms
  68. tnum – Tabular Figures
  69. trad – Traditional Forms
  70. twid – Third Widths
  71. valt – Alternate Vertical Metrics
  72. vrt2 – Vertical Writing
  73. vhal – Alternate Vertical Half Metrics
  74. vkna – Vertical Kana Alternates
  75. vkrn – Vertical Kerning
  76. vpal – Proportional Alternate Vertical Metrics
  77. zero – Slashed Zero

QuarkXPress 2016 also supports 5 OpenType baseline tags through Character Alignment feature:

  1. icfb – Ideographic character face bottom edge baseline
  2. icft – Ideographic character face top edge baseline
  3. ideo – Ideographic em-box bottom edge baseline
  4. idtp – Ideographic em-box top edge baseline
  5. romn – The baseline used by simple alphabetic scripts such as Latin, Cyrillic and Greek

To see what these features mean and to see an explanation of the four-letter-code, please refer to the OpenType reference:


Need more? Please let us know!


Both an engineer and a layout artist, Matthias bridges the gap between technology and people.

Before joining Quark, Matthias pioneered print, Web, and multimedia products for multiple German publishing companies. Since 1997 he has played a central role in shaping Quark’s desktop and enterprise software.
Starting 2003 Matthias has focused on Quark’s interactive and digital publishing solutions. He is an active participant in design and publishing communities and represents Quark in the Ghent PDF Workgroup.

Since February 2014 Matthias heads Quark’s Desktop Publishing business unit and is therefore responsible for QuarkXPress.

How to evaluate a typeface

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 17.34.56Ten years ago, there were two realistic (legal) choices for typography. Either buy font sets from Linotype, Monotype etc, or use the fonts that came with your software. Back in those days there were design applications worth buying purely for the included fonts. Of course, you could also surf the web for ‘free’ fonts, but these would either be illegal knock-offs, or amateurish affairs with disproportionate letterforms and bad kerning: maybe ok for a poster headline, but not something for serious typography.

How the world has changed. Skyfonts, Typekit, and others offer font subscriptions. FontFont and others often offer free weights of new fonts as a promotional tool. An increasing number of designers are releasing their fonts or some weights of their fonts for free to get themselves noticed. Some of these sets aren’t that useful: Ultralight with Bold Italic is hardly going to allow you to typeset much of a document. Others, most famously Museo by ExLjbris, which you now see more or less everywhere, are designed as super-families and genuinely useful weight sets are offered for free. After using Museo free weights for a branding project, I lashed out on the complete set of weights. Money well spent. Of course, you can still buy fonts the old way, but, even there, the prices have dropped in real terms and the variety is extraordinary.

To many designers, the lure of free fonts is almost irresistible. I’ve known people who have surfed the web for days to find what they want (quite possibly spending more in time than they saved in price).

One question, though. How do you know the fonts you’re buying, hiring or getting for free are any good? You can’t tell from the web-site preview. Almost anything looks good set at 72 point in one line of text.

In this article, we explore seven aspects of typeface evaluation. For QuarkXPress 2015 users, we also include a file that you can use to evaluate any font on your system. This all applies equally to paid-for fonts, subscription fonts and free fonts, though it’s harder to properly evaluate a font if you can’t print it until you’ve paid for it.

The criteria are:

  1. Legibility
  2. Colour, consistency and kerning
  3. Efficiency
  4. Completeness
  5. Compatibility
  6. Legality
  7. Hidden costs

Continue reading “How to evaluate a typeface”

Martin Turner is the author of Desk Top Publishing with QuarkXPress 2016, Desk Top Publishing with QuarkXPress 2017, and presenter on the video series Desk Top Publishing with QuarkXPress.

Quark Launches Creative Pro Bundle – Save $1000+


If you’ve been thinking about upgrading to QuarkXPress 10, now is the time. Quark announced today a new Creative Pro Bundle offer that applies to both upgrades and new purchases of version 10. With purchases made starting April 1, for an extra $50 you can opt to receive a bundle of tools for creatives that together are worth more than $1000. The bundle includes:

Markzware ID2Q: ID2Q provides a quick, easy and affordable method of converting files from Adobe InDesign to QuarkXPress.

Corel® AfterShot™ Pro: AfterShot Pro is photo workflow solution that combines photo management, advanced non-destructive adjustments and complete RAW processing.

Monotype FontExplorer® X Pro: An intuitive interface, a reliable architecture and a powerful feature set gives you quick access and control over your fonts.

Five professional Monotype OpenType Pro Fonts: Create stunning effects by using these fonts that offer OpenType Pro features such as swashes, true small caps and fractions and discretionary ligatures.

QuarkXPress 9: Allows you to open legacy QuarkXPress files older than version 7.

To find out more you can visit:

You will see that there are two bundle options. One includes QuarkXPress 10 plus the bundle of tools listed above. A second option for a slightly higher cost wraps in 12 months of free unlimited help desk support and a free upgrade, if a brand new version is released during your enrollment period. Of course you can also make purchases without either bundle for the standard prices.

Check out the full press announcement here.