Naming font modifications

A client has ordered some modifications to one of my typefaces. The changes are minor and will be made to a couple of glyphs only. How do you usually handle the family name on these occasions? Do you add the client name to the original family name? Or do you add some sort of differentiator like “Alt”, “B” or “Custom”?

Comments

  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 735
    I don't think there are any standards for this sort of thing. Whatever works for you and your client should be fine.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,007
    Usually appending client name or something similar (e.g. if client wants if for some particular project or third party branding). Our preference is to put the client name after the regular font name, but sometimes they request it the other way round to make it easy for their design staff to find and use the right version in font menus.
  • I would just change the version number. I assume that if someone has used my font in perhaps dozens of documents they won't want to go through each of them changing the font. They will simply uninstall the old version of the font and install the new one, expecting to see the changes when they open any document. 
  • Get the client psychologically invested by letting them decide.
  • I would usually add a short, two or three letter suffix to the original family name. However, always ask the client first for their preference. They just may want an entirely new name. In any event, the modified fonts do need a different name, as John pointed out.
  • I appreciate your insights. I was already planning to discuss this with my client, I just wanted to get a clearer sense of what is common practice in these situations beforehand. Once again, thank you!
  • Bhikkhu, I disagree in the strongest terms. The version number is rarely exposed to end users at all, let alone prominently. John's advice is, as always, sterling.
  • Bhikkhu PesalaBhikkhu Pesala Posts: 75
    edited March 17
    Bhikkhu, I disagree in the strongest terms. 
    You're entitled to your opinion, but the best solution is to ask the client, and let them decide. For me, it would be a nightmare if I had to change the font in any of the old documents that I opened because the font's name had changed. 

    Someone recently asked me to modify the ogonek accents in one of my fonts — you may recall the thread. I duly modified the position and design of the accents, and uploaded a new version, fixing a few more bugs in the process. 

    Even Microsoft made some changes to their fonts with Windows updates to fix some bugs, but they have not changed the font names: Verdana, Arial, etc., have had the same names for more than a decade.

    I think you disagree only because you're thinking about a different scenario entirely.
  • Minor changes that don't affect text flow might make a name change more trouble than it's worth.

    @Dave Crossland
    Space Mono is (eventually, I hope) going to get a fixed "M" and "W"* but even though that won't be an insignificant change, I doubt the font will be renamed...

    * https://github.com/googlefonts/spacemono/issues/1

  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 542
    the best solution is to ask the client, and let them decide. For me, it would be a nightmare if I had to change the font in any of the old documents that I opened because the font's name had changed.
    When working with clients on this sort of modification or customization, I always recommend a custom or modified name. And along with that, I offer to provide them with a script that will automate changes in legacy documents (assuming they are working in InDesign, which they almost always are).

    Several years ago, when Font Bureau made a major update to the Benton Sans family, there was a lot of debate about the pros and cons of having the family name change slightly (from “BentonSans” to “Benton Sans”).

    All of the familiar arguments arose — including preventing the possibility of documents that depend upon features in the new full-featured OT fonts from opening with older fonts installed and without warning of the mismatch (an argument for name change) versus causing confusion and hassle in updating existing documents (an argument for keeping the same family name).

    The decision was made to update the family name.

    As you can imagine, updating specimen documents that had contained around 128 fonts (prior to merger of SC styles) to roughly 80 fully-featured OT fonts was a daunting prospect. The Adobe Find Font… interface is very cumbersome at that scale. Which is when I developed my InDesign script.

    I then suggested to sales & customer support staff to make the offer to clients that we could provide them the script to update legacy InDesign documents, as a courtesy. I don’t know if anyone ever took advantage of the offer.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,007
    Someone recently asked me to modify the ogonek accents in one of my fonts — you may recall the thread. I duly modified the position and design of the accents, and uploaded a new version, fixing a few more bugs in the process. 

    Even Microsoft made some changes to their fonts with Windows updates to fix some bugs, but they have not changed the font names: Verdana, Arial, etc., have had the same names for more than a decade.
    This thread isn't about updates and fixes to fonts, it is about making customised versions of fonts, i.e. versions with distinctive features and behaviours that differ from the standard version. The standard version isn't being updated or replaced: the custom version exists alongside the standard version, for the use of a specific client, perhaps even for specific uses by that client.
  • Although sometimes the lines do blur, like when Treacyfaces updated their Arrow font with "true" Italics, but customers clamored for the slanted-Roman to be reinstated, so he ended up providing both.
  • Michel BoyerMichel Boyer Posts: 24
    edited March 17

    I have customized fonts for my own use using stylistic sets, so as to keep backward compatibility. I thought styles were standard for alternate shapes. Is there anything precluding such a solution when dealing with clients? If the font name is not changed, but the style is not available, then the font is clearly not the right one. And if the style is there, and if the font is guaranteed to behave like the original when the style is not active, then what other problem can be caused by not renaming than having to uninstall before installing the right copy when needed?

  • John Hudson said:

    The standard version isn't being updated or replaced: the custom version exists alongside the standard version, for the use of a specific client, perhaps even for specific uses by that client.
    John is right on this one. The client requested some changes that will not be available on the retail version.

    In this particular case, the client requested an alternative design for the G. This alternate G was already present in the font could be enabled under a stylistic set. Unsurprisingly, they were not aware of this and were quite surprised when I told them about it. Instead of educating all their employees on how to access a specific glyph on many different applications (Microsoft Office, CorelDRAW, Adobe...), they opted to commission me to create a specific version of the fonts that had the alternate G as the default one. To be honest, I completely understand them and would do the same thing.

    If the font name is not changed, but the style is not available, then the font is clearly not the right one. And if the style is there, and if the font is guaranteed to behave like the original when the style is not active, then what other problem can be caused by not renaming than having to uninstall before installing the right copy when needed?

    The problem is that a layperson will not be able to tell the difference between 2 different glyphs while busy with their corporate tasks. The company already had to license the fonts, and my fee for this kind of customization is far cheaper than the inconveniences they could face in the future. In fact, I believe is even cheaper than what they would spend teaching OpenType to accountants.

    I completely agree fonts modified for specific clients should have different names than the retail version.

  • I completely agree fonts modified for specific clients should have different names than the retail version.
    As long as that is what the client wants, that is fine.

    However, what if they don't want to explain to their employees that they must edit all of their documents to change the font to the customised one? The system admin can uninstall the original font, and install the new one, then the employees get a load of missing font errors! Or, do they keep both versions installed? 
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 735
    One advantage to giving the modified font a different name: Both the standard version and the modified version can be installed at the same time. It might seem advantageous to keep the name the same to avoid having to update older documents, but if the modifications to the font are such that they would cause document reflow, it will necessitate updating older documents anyway. And you won't have the option to allow the old documents remain as they were.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 566
    In cases where a client requires a modified version of a font, regardless of how small the change is, I add Custom to the family name. I have some fonts which have several Custom variations for various clients. Each client's Custom fonts have their own version numbers. The reason I use that particular word is that it makes it obvious to anyone using the font that they're not dealing with a stock version. If the client sends a job out to a designer and they already have the same font, it should be clear that the included fonts differs from the one that's normally available. A lot of fonts that clients request customization for are free fonts. The stock version may have already been installed on a designer's system so I think it's beneficial for everyone to make it clear that this font isn't the normal version.

    Since the fonts are always for in-house use, there's probably no chance of conflicts. I suppose a company using a Custom font could merge with another company using a different Custom version of the same font. Oh no, what have I done?!?
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