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Quick Tip: Troubleshooting Font Problems in Adobe InDesign

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Getting creative with fonts is one of the most fun and rewarding aspects of using InDesign, but every once in a while you encounter font-related problems that make you want to give up your typographic efforts and set everything back to Minion Pro.

Hold up! Before you take drastic action, consider trying these troubleshooting tips for dealing with common font issues and see if you can sort out the problem quickly and easily...

Solution #1: Search for Missing Font Styles

You might have a font that’s not displaying correctly, or seems to be unavailable in your drop-down menu of fonts in InDesign (accessible from the Character Formatting Controls panel at the top of the workspace).

Even though you initially seemed to install the font successfully onto your Windows or Mac system, the font might not be showing up in InDesign for a number of reasons.

font menu in indesign

The first possible reason is that the font is hiding in InDesign’s menu somewhere, but not in the place you’re looking. If you install a certain style of Arial, for example, say a Black weight, and can’t find it under the usual ‘Arial’ drop-down menu, InDesign may have categorised it as a different font family, and it may be lurking somewhere else in the menu. 

Try typing ‘A-r-i-a...’ etc when you access the font drop-down menu to prompt InDesign to search the full range of options available in the menu.

Solution #2: Check Out InDesign’s Font Folder

The second reason for a missing font is that the font hasn’t been placed correctly into your InDesign Font Folder during installation. InDesign maintains its own font folder that is distinct from your computer’s default font folder.

You can navigate to your InDesign Font Folder by following these paths (CS5 and earlier):

Windows: Program Files/Common Files/Adobe/Fonts

Mac OS: Library/Application Support/Adobe/Fonts

indesigns font folder

You can manually drop font files in here to be able to use them instantly in your InDesign documents. You don’t even need to install them to be able to use them—they will appear instantly in InDesign’s font menu.

Another possible reason for missing fonts, if you’re using InDesign CC, is that Adobe Typekit hasn’t successfully synced your selected fonts to your desktop. If this is the case, check your internet connection, and verify that you are successfully signed in to Creative Cloud. Typekit will sync fonts automatically when the conditions are right.

Solution #3: Identify a Corrupt Font File

If your font is still not showing up in InDesign’s drop-down menu or existing text is being replaced with a substitute font in InDesign, and you can’t solve the problem with Solution #1, above, then you may be dealing with a corrupt font. 

This is frustrating, as this is usually an issue with the source file and not your software, but there are some actions you can take to solve the problem.

Firstly, look for alternative places from which to download the font file. Did you download it from a questionable website? Take a look on Google to see if you can find any alternative places to download the font from. You might find that just the original version of the font that you installed was corrupt.

It’s true, however, that sometimes free fonts are free for a reason—some of them can be riddled with corruptions and errors, and haven’t been designed for use across a wide range of systems. Why not look into finding an alternative font that achieves a similar typographic look? Search for ‘similar fonts to [name of font]’, or try out Identifont. You might find something you like even more!

futura similar fonts

Have Any More Ideas for Dealing With Missing or Corrupt Fonts in Adobe InDesign?

Do you have any nuggets of experience with dealing with frustrating font problems? We want to hear about it! Share your tips for managing dodgy font problems in the comments below.

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