Organizing fonts into families is one of the many functions of a professional font manager. At first glance this may seem like a straightforward task, but everyone’s definition of family can be different.

Font designers specify family names for the fonts they create, but the rules they use are inconsistent. Rather than second-guessing the designers, FontAgent® accepts the family names they provide, and gives you the tools you need to build font families that organize your font collection your way.

Image of a happy family stone sculpture overlaid on stylized background of fonts

Font Designers Assign Family Names

Font designers decide what family a font belongs to. For example, while you may think that all fonts called Open Sans are in the same family, some versions of Open Sans fonts specify that the Light, Semibold, Extrabold and Condensed styles of Open Sans are in their own separate families.

Foundries Create Font Variations

Font foundries commonly create their versions of popular typefaces such as Garamond. Established foundries add their names or initials to font and family names to help identify the source of the fonts. This practice results in font names such as ITC Garamond, Apple Garamond, EB Garamond and Garamond SSI – all of which are versions of the Garamond typeface with subtle differences. Designers must treat these Garamond fonts from different vendors as distinct families.

Unrelated Fonts with the Same Name

In the human world, not all people named Smith are related. The world of fonts is no different. While it’s not a common occurrence, fonts with identical family names can be very different in appearance – not just from different families, but from different planets.

Fonts with Naming Errors

As strange as it may sound, a small number of font files contain misspelled family names, copyrights and descriptions in their metadata. While established font foundries have extensive quality checks to avoid errors, there is no way to guarantee that font creators specify 100% accurate metadata.

Everyone Has Their Preferences

To make this conundrum even more complicated, there are no definitive rules for organizing fonts into families. For example, some people want to unite expanded, condensed, semibold and heavy styles with their core families, while others want them in separate families.

Organize Font Families Your Way

As you can see, organizing fonts by their family names can be quite challenging. Rather than enforcing a specific organization method, FontAgent enables you to organize your fonts your way. Start by importing your fonts into FontAgent, which checks their integrity and loads all their metadata. You can then decide how you want to organize your collection. Once your fonts are organized into families the way you prefer, you can activate and explore them easily.

Search by Font or Family Name

To quickly explore all the fonts with similar names, enter the name (e.g., “Myriad”) in the Search field. Select the Table, Image or Tile View to vary the preview in the top pane.

Screenshot of the Image View in FontAgent that can provide previews of the fonts in a font family

The Image View displays large previews of all font styles in the family

Screenshot of FontAgent's Table View selecting all Myriad fonts in your font collection

The Table View shows a table of the family’s styles and their associated metadata

Screenshot of FontAgent's Tile View showing previews of fonts in the Myriad Pro font family

The Tile view shows a grid of thumbnail previews of all the fonts in the family

Sets Bring Families Together

In FontAgent, sets are logical associations of fonts. You can define manual sets and subsets for tight control, or you can use smart sets that update automatically as you add new fonts.

Using Sets and Subsets
You can use manual sets to define your own font families using these steps:

  • Create a set called Families. (optional step for organizing your Sets Sidebar)
  • Create a subset inside Families and give it a family name such as Garamond.
  • Open the Image View in FontAgent’s upper window.
  • Select the All Fonts set in the Sets Sidebar.
  • Enter “Garamond” into the Search field to display all Garamond fonts in your catalog.
  • Drag all the fonts you want from the Image View into the Garamond family set in the Sets Sidebar. If you accidentally include an incorrect font, select it and press Delete.

Repeat the process for other font families you wish to define.

Using Smart Sets
You can also use Smart Sets to define family sets by following these steps:

  • Select the Tools > New Smart Set menu command.
  • Enter a name for the new smart set such as Myriad Family.
  • Define the criteria for the set. For example, select Font Name in the left column, select the Contains operator in the center column, and enter “Myriad” in the field to its right as shown below.
  • Press the Save button and FontAgent populates your new set with all the fonts containing Myriad in their name.
Screenshot of FontAgent's Smart Set facility that lets you build and save dynamic sets that update automatically

Use Smart Sets to define family sets that auto-update as you add new fonts

Activate All Fonts in a Set

To activate or deactivate all the fonts in a set or smart set, click the activation slider to the right of its name in the Sets Sidebar. A green slider indicates the fonts in the set are activated and a grey slider ­­means they are deactivated.

Displaying Glyphs for a Selected Family Member

To see individual glyphs for a specific font, select it and click Glyphs in FontAgent’s bottom pane.

Screenshot of FontAgent's Table View synchronized with the Glyphs View to enable you to inspect the individual characters in the selected font

The Glyph View displays a grid of character glyphs for a selected font

Keep Exploring Your Font Families

FontAgent gives you many more ways to manage and preview font families. As you use FontAgent, you’ll learn how to work with sets and previews to streamline your font selection and project workflows. Have questions about the right way to organize your fonts? Ask us for help.