Font Salvage and Repair

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Dave Crosby
Posts: 784
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2004 1:13 pm
Location: Enoch, Utah

Font Salvage and Repair

Post by Dave Crosby » Wed Oct 18, 2006 5:48 pm

Shortly after purchasing FontCreator back in 2004, in addition to problems in fonts I had made, I noticed that parts of a purchased font I liked just didn’t look right to me!
I opened it with FC and sure enough, some glyphs had the black and white spaces messed up. I cleverly (pat on back) discovered that all I had to do was to reverse a few contours here and there and all's reet!

If you have been out trolling the net for free fonts you probably have snagged some fonts that are alien to your operating system, misfits to your needs, or are corrupt, crippled, or damaged in some way. Some won’t even open “no matter wot!”
Why is that?

1. Requirements for font design has changed many times since the first computer was designed.
There have been many font building programs designed by people with a variety of ideas about how fonts should work. There are Atari fonts, Apple fonts, Commodore fonts, Grundy fonts, Osborne fonts, IBM fonts, MS fonts, Raster fonts, Vector fonts, PostScript Type one, PostScript Type two, TrueType, Open Type(TT), Open Type(PS), and others.

For an interesting look at old computers check out:

Rockwell AIM 65

2. Fonts have been made by a variety of people with various abilities and skill levels.

3. Then those original fonts have been stolen, copied, and redesigned trying to update them to ever newer computer platforms, and messed up in many ways.

THEN you download them. What to do? Trash them or try to fix them?

Don’t trash that font! With FontCreator you have the tools, and with a little practice, will soon have the knowledge on how to revive them.
However, Making changes to Hinted Fonts will remove the hinting from any glyph you make changes to, usually making them look worse on the screen, but the improvement will appear in the printed form.
viewtopic.php?t=1563 Hinting Information.

Look up information on Grayscale for a viable alternative.

Problems with already Installed Fonts can be found with the FiFoFo (Fix Font Folder) High-Logic Application. They must be un-installed and moved to a different folder to be repaired.

I understand FiFoFo is being upgraded. That will be a great addition!{August 2012 NOTE: Still in Progress? May be a part of the newest version of Main Type!}


I've cleaned up a lot of my installed fonts (there were over 40 badly crippled fonts with red X's. The yellow question marks mean there are errors, but they will function. You get green check arrows in front of the name when they are OK) in my list.
As you can see, I still have a way to go.

I think the single biggest problem is file names. If someone gives a common name to their font, and you install it into your Windows Font Folder, Your good font is gone! First use Font Creator autoName feature to assign new filenames and save yourself a big hassle.

Even many Professional Fonts that you paid Professional Money for (a Dick Pape line) are far from perfect.

So you just got a new font. May I suggest that before you instal it, open it with FC and save it (Save As) in a different file folder named ... oh, say ... Repaired Fonts. You may wish to slightly alter the font name (-a, b, c or -1, 2, 3) with each major change so you do not get them mixed up. This will allow you to revert to a previous version in case of a major chaotic result.
You probably should save versions -1, -2, -3 etc., then REALLY save the version you like the best.

Usually, all you need to do is open a font with FC, select Font/ Validate/Next. Un-check any boxes you want to do manually. If you wish (good idea!) Check the box to have FC make ALL the repairs. The remaining problems (if any!) will be listed in the report that is generated. Validate Glyph (the button with the red ! in it) within the glyph window gives a detailed report for that glyph. Just go to the glyph, and fix it. Then go to the next glyph listed.

In no time at all you will have a top of the line font.




Some problems you will find are:

I. The fonts that will not even load.
MainType describes them as <Font Not Accessible>. Dick Pape calls them Dead Fonts.
Often all you have to do is open them with FC, go to Tools/ Autonaming. Save the results and try it again. 98 times out of a hundred, this will solve the problem.

For the other 2% you will need a Hex/Text Editor. Sometimes a faulty “Self Loading” lead has been attached that needs to be stripped off. As I don’t know beans about this, I send the fonts to Erwin to be resolved. Perhaps he can explain his process?
EDIT NOTE: Erwin informs me:
I once got a zip file with three fonts that failed to work. I removed the first 128 bytes from the font files, and that was all it took to fix them.

I once solved a problem font by removing the VDMX table and entering some valid values (I used the calculate button) for the Win Ascent and Win Descent values.
VDMX table? See:

See? Fixing Fonts is a piece of cake!

II. Platform Errors.
Unicode, Symbol, Microsoft, Macintosh, When they are wrong, ... There is trouble right here in River City!


You will find more about Platforms and other Font Fixing Info in this thread:

III. Mis mapped glyphs.
There is a protocol of where glyphs must be to be recognized as a specific control code or character glyph. To repair this, right click on the glyph from the font overview window, and select Properties.


Or, if there are lots of mapping problems, you can select Format/ Mapping and quickly fix them all.


For more information go to:

And do a search for Mapping. This manual is also part of your FC application. You can print it out if you wish.

IV. Damaged Glyphs.
I’ve found four kinds of problems here.
A. Misaligned on and off curve points. Move the vertical and horizontal guidelines into position to pinpoint the error location and the problem is usually quite obvious. Use Q/W to step from point to point, and manually or use the arrow keys to move an existing point to the proper location, then delete all the overlapping points. Move Extreme points to where they are no longer red. You may need to add a point or two to keep the original shape. See Circle Secrets & Warning Points:
B. Tangled points on contours, referred to as knots. This usually happens when glyphs are run through a transforming process that forced points to overlap each other.
C. Reversed Contours. Go to Contour mode, click on the contour (or use Q/W to step through them to get the one you want) and click on Edit/Change Direction, or Right Click and select Change Direction. Notice Erwin almost always gives us at least two options for fixing stuff.
D. Overlapping Contours. Sometimes all you need to do is select one of the offending contours and move it slightly. Often the best solution is to select the offenders and click on the Get Union of Contours Button. (in the upper right hand corner of the Tool Bar)
Also: viewtopic.php?t=1142


Remember, to reproduce your font, your computer and printer have to calculate the location of each of those points in each glyph. Every redundant point, point on top of point, backtracked point (so the interpreter no longer knows which direction the contour is going) slows them down. With some fonts I've looked into, it is amazing they are able to be interpreted at all!

Composite glyphs (grayed out diamond and triangle symbols on tool bar) are virtual copies of other glyphs that often overlap, and are not problems.
If you want to make changes to a composite glyph:
1. Edit/Make Simple. It is no longer a composite.
2. Select all -- Edit/Select All (or Ctrl-A).
3. Edit/Join Contours/Union. The Validation shows all errors resolved.
4. Press the Validate Glyph button to make sure there are no more problems before advancing to the next glyph.

V. Missing Glyphs.

Many fonts contain only the caps. They should be PANOSED as 46 whatever.

Often the caps have been copied exactly to the lower case mapped glyph windows. If not, It is simple to add the needed glyph windows:

Then copy the glyphs (or drag from Sample) and paste them, then from the Font Overview window, select a glyph/shift/end glyph to select the whole range. Open Tools/Glyph transformer, and make the lowercase smaller than the uppercase.
Transformer aid is offered at:

Yet another solution is to build the lowercase part by entering them as composits. Right click in the glyph edit window and select Add Composite Glyph Member. Right click again and select Glyph Member Properties to re-size them.

It may be easier to start a new font.
Make the old font the sample and drag the glyphs in one at a time. This way, you don’t have to worry about mapping everything. Change the sample font again to drag in numbers, punctuation, etc.

Changing Sample Info:

I’m sure many of you have found other techniques for fixing fonts. I’d love to see your ideas!
Last edited by Dave Crosby on Sun Aug 05, 2012 10:06 am, edited 37 times in total.
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Dave Crosby
Posts: 784
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2004 1:13 pm
Location: Enoch, Utah

Using a Hex Editor

Post by Dave Crosby » Sun Oct 22, 2006 1:14 am

Erwin shared this information on handling problem fonts:
I've used PSPad, a freeware editor to look into font files. It opens
font files in HEX-Edit mode. This is necessary as it won't work with a
standard text editor like notepad.

Some basics you need to know are:

A valid TrueType font starts with hexadecimal

A valid OpenType font with TrueType outlines also starts with

And a CFF based OpenType font starts with

You can see the table names on the right of the screenshots.

The first two fonts are fine.
When you take a closer look at the third screenshot, you'll see why I decided to remove the first 128 bytes of aoncrg_.ttf.
I selected the first 128 bytes and then clicked "Cut" from the "Edit" menu, to remove these bytes.

I hope this clarifies the process for you ;-)


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Bhikkhu Pesala
Top Typographer
Top Typographer
Posts: 7497
Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2002 5:28 am
Location: Seven Kings, London UK

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Jun 08, 2007 11:34 am

These Common Errors are Easy to Fix

Clipped Glyphs — Tops and/or bottoms of some glyphs don't display or print.

Format, Settings, Metrics, Maximum, Calculate.

Glyphs Don't Display at All

Format, Settings, Ranges, Unicode Ranges, Calculate, and Code Pages, Calculate.

Unicode Ranges Empty

Format, Settings Ranges, Contents and Layout, Version 0

Change version to 3, and calculate Ranges and Code Pages

Font Subfamily Names — Regular, Italic, Bold, Bold Italic
If used on a PC set to a different localle, the subfamily names don't match the language. “Italic” should be “Italique” for French, but “Kursiv” for Sweden, and “Corsivo” for Italian.

Format, Naming, Add Language, French (standard) France, and check “Include font subfamily name.” Repeat for other languages you think might be needed depending on the range of glyphs that your font includes. In Vietnamese italic is called “nghiêng.”
My FontsReviews: MainTypeFont CreatorHelpFC11.5 Pro + MT8.0 @ Win10 1803 build 17134.345

Dave Crosby
Posts: 784
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2004 1:13 pm
Location: Enoch, Utah

Re: Font Salvage and Repair

Post by Dave Crosby » Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:56 am

Wow, 2006! I forgot I knew so much way back then (and have since forgotten), and never got around to thanking Bhikkhu Pesala for his excellent additions!
Thanks BP!
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