The new font in Office 2011 (and what’s wrong)

I won’t keep you in suspense: there’s nothing wrong with the font. It’s just that Word can’t handle it. Okay, now a little suspense in regard to the problem…

The font is one that comes with Windows 7, Gabriola.ttf. It’s a script font that starts out pretty – and usable at smaller sizes for short blocks of text – and waxes into elegant beauty when you use some of its more advanced features, the glyph variants that give you all sorts of choices for fancy, swashy characters suitable for larger type sizes.Gabriola AlphabetThe font has so many variants for so many characters, it’s a wonder it’s all included for free. Substitute a single, simple alternate character or two (as in the Z and r here):

Zither in GabriolaOr up the ante with the more-upscale characters one at a time in a word –  as in “the” and “font” in this next picture – or use fancy replacements for multiple letters and add the free-standing swashes that draw themselves around the characters you’ve already typed, as in the Etch-a-Sketch-gone-wild “Gabriola” here.

Gabriola sample words

Font heaven? Yes, unless you’re using Word, which, a decade into the twenty-first century, still won’t let you type any but pretty basic characters into its documents. Type them? It won’t even let you paste them in if you’ve typed them in a more intelligent program, like InDesign. Even TextEdit, while not supporting the most advanced typographic capabilities in this font, lets you use the basic alternate characters (as those in the Zither example). But Word refuses to deal with any characters that don’t have Unicode IDs but only glyph IDs (GIDs), a topic I explain more thoroughly in the ebook Take Control of Fonts in Snow Leopard (and its predecessor Take Control of Fonts in Leopard). You can’t enter them into a Word document even though you can see them in Character Viewer, and if you try to paste them in from another, more glyph-friendly program, they either disappear or turn into question-mark characters (depending on the characters).

Even though I use InDesign for layout, and so can access all these characters, I’m still extremely disappointed in Word. Bad Microsoft!

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