11 Replies Latest reply on Jun 25, 2015 5:06 AM by Yves Apel

    A Serious Solution for Fonts...

    Peter Villevoye Adobe Community Professional

      Using fonts and expecting they will show up in an ePub (either an ePub 2 or 3 with Fixed Layout) is still a troubled matter of hope and prayer. No really, I'm not kidding ! To most users it's totally unpredictable, if you don't know what's going on behind the scenes of your ePub creating tool (e.g. InDesign), your cherished font, and the reader software. And the results are also a mixed bag of problems.


      You have to know exactly:

      - What kind of font file format is in use (by InDesign) ?

      - Is the font legally/technically available for embedding ?

      - Will the creating software (InDesign) honor any rights ?

      - Will the creating software (InDesign) embed the fonts ?

      - Will the font be embedded with or without encryption ?

      - Can the reader software handle any encrypted fonts ?

      - Will the reader software honor font styling (in ePub 2) ?

      - Does the reader offer overruling user prefs (ePub 2) ?

      - Can the reader access online hosted fonts (Typekit) ?

      - Are you using Comic Sans ?


      Apart from the latter (an esthetic issue which should halt the exporting of your ePub), all the other ones can seriously damage or at least endanger the reader's font experience in a technical way. Adobe is gradually fixing a lot of difficulties (many of them are legal hindrances), but at the dawn of this ePub 3 FXL thing, we're still deep in trouble. I wish Adobe would implement a proper dialogue in InDesign to tell the designer exactly what's going on, or develop a tool to let designers inspect and (if allowed) convert or correct fonts and font privileges. This is getting out of hand !  Or should we all turn to the free and open Google Fonts like Roboto and Lobster ?

        • 1. Re: A Serious Solution for Fonts...
          sergepaulus Level 1


          If you read french there is an excellent article about that by jiminy panoz.

          A plugin for InDesign, Circularflo, seems a solution for your problem. Pariah Burke talks about it.

          But for me there is still a big difference in font handling between ePub 2 and ePub 3 FLY ! those can incorporate at least typekit fonts, if you make a subset.

          • 2. Re: A Serious Solution for Fonts...
            Peter Villevoye Adobe Community Professional

            Pariah Burke's article helped me a lot, both in being verified in my problems, as well as in offering a (temporary?) solution: Circular Flo ! Thanks :-)

            I'm still chewing on that French article, though. My name might seems French, but I'm just a simple Dutch guy. So it's a bit tougher to read, and it covers more general aspects and pains of typography in ePub. But definitely also worth reading.

            In conclusion one might ask: will InDesign tackle this mess in CC 2015, would they 'buy' and implement Circular Flo, or will they still rely on third party tools and plug-ins to do their necessary house-cleaning ?

            • 3. Re: A Serious Solution for Fonts...
              Yves Apel Level 3

              The answers are mostly the same for every project:


              - What kind of font file format is in use (by InDesign) ?

              Use OpenType or WOFF (official by IDPF,) or TrueType (widely supported by readers)


              - Is the font legally/technically available for embedding ?

              technically: If it works for PDF, it usually also works for ePub.

              legally: Have you bought an extra ePub license for your commercial fonts? If not, you are not allowed to embed them into ePub. This counts also for system fonts. Commercial fonts need to be encrypted/obfuscated when embedded to ePub. InDesign does this automatically.


              Free fonts licensed under SIL, or similar or if the font copyright holder has given his explicit permission are allowed.


              - Will the creating software (InDesign) honor any rights ?

              InDesign does.


              - Will the creating software (InDesign) embed the fonts ?

              InDesign does. Sigil, Calibre, Jutoh and Co. only do if you select it in the appropriate options.

              - Will the font be embedded with or without encryption ?

              InDesign does to honor copyright rules by the font creators.


              - Can the reader software handle any encrypted fonts ?

              50/50. Flip a coin.

              - Will the reader software honor font styling (in ePub 2) ?

              Why shouldn't it?

              - Does the reader offer overruling user prefs (ePub 2) ?

              If it doesn't, delete it and use another one


              - Can the reader access online hosted fonts (Typekit)?

              Font CDN access is not part of the ePub standard. So no.

              - Are you using Comic Sans ?

              You are not allowed to embed system fonts into ePub! Use comic neue instead.

              • 4. Re: A Serious Solution for Fonts...
                Yves Apel Level 3



                This is not the mess of InDesign. Its the mess of the font creators and distributors which have put complicated licenses at high priced ePub embedding rights into the game. There is one great important point Pariah already has put in his list

                • Option to use live text fonts without obfuscation (required for KF8 and Readium)


                Readium does support obfuscated fonts, just to let you know. But much more important, KF8 or mobi ... (the complete Amazon products) don't know and don't have font encryption, obfuscation or mangling. So if the fonts license states that the font needs to be protected when embedding into ePub, mobi, KF8 or other digital formats (and commercial fonts do in 99% of the case), then KF8 and mobi are completely out. No protection structure, no rights to embed. Then you need to take another font or to leave them out of the ePub.


                The difference between Circular Flo and InDesign (on font related questions). Circular Flo doesn't care if you have the rights to embed fonts. If you want it to embed the fonts, it does.
                InDesign goes the safe way. If you embed fonts, it obfuscates and subsets them automatically.



                • 5. Re: A Serious Solution for Fonts...
                  Peter Villevoye Adobe Community Professional

                  Very refined replies – thank you !

                  And Comic Neue is not that bad...


                  I don't blame InDesign for the mess, nor Muse, or Edge Animate, or any other application that is more or less obligated to honor licensing terms and conditions. But I do blame Adobe for not being very honest and transparant about it. Together with Typekit they're touting the use of fonts as if it's an endless freedom, but it isn't. In fact, there are so many things going wrong here, that users lose trust in the software as a whole. While clear information on what's happening would prove Adobe and their tools right for doing so, and even stimulate the proper selection and use (and perhaps purchase) of fonts.


                  Again, thanks for your replies

                  • 6. Re: A Serious Solution for Fonts...
                    AnneMarie Concepcion Adobe Community Professional

                    Adobe subsets, embeds, obfuscates, and encrypts fonts per the EPUB 3 standard, defined by the idpf.org, and per the EULA's of their fonts. (Though they go overboard; they'll even obfuscate open source fonts.) The EPUBs spit out by the program pass epubcheck 3.01 validation. The reflowable and fixed layout files that result work fine in any eReader that supports the same standard.


                    Ay, there's the rub!


                    Kindles do not support the EPUB 3 standard. They have their own proprietary format. Yes they support embedded fonts to some extent but not with the encryption file (or whatever their problem is). Adobe InDesign's stance is that they cannot/will not create exports keyed to some other company's proprietary format. Open Source is fine. (though often begrudgingly ... heh)


                    What we need is for some enterprising developer to create an Export to Kindle plug-in for InDesign. Amazon stopped development on their own at CS6.


                    You can find out more in Kevin Callahan's excellent InDesign Magazine cover story, "From InDesign to Kindle" from April 2015: http://indesignsecrets.com/issues/issue-72-indesign-kindle


                    Kevin is the editor-in-chief of EPUBSecrets.com, and just published a post about how InDesign embeds fonts for epubs: Spec fonts with InDesign (and by hand) | ePUBSecrets


                    He and Joshua Tallent are doing a 3-hour workshop on Publishing to Kindle (covering InDesign and from scratch) at PePcon 2015 in Philadelphia, too. Publishing to Kindle - PePcon   I've seen the handout, it's phenomenal.


                    Hope this helps!


                    • 7. Re: A Serious Solution for Fonts...

                      Hi Yves,


                      I'm getting more and more confused of embedding fonts in epubs. You say I need an extra license.


                      If I look at


                      an adobe employee tells that it's allowed to embed almost all my fonts I licensed from adobe into pdf and epub. This belongs even to the fonts I installed together with my Creative Suite applications.


                      The list here:


                      shows too that almost every Adobe font is allowed to be embedded for print and preview. And in my opinion epub is just one more format for previewing.


                      What's do you think about that?


                      This text is just "private":

                      In Deutsch hätte ich Ihnen die Fragen einfacher und präziser stellen können, aber ich denke, es ist auch so verständlich. Welche Rechte habe ich nun mit den durch die CC-Pakete installierten Schriften?


                      Viele Grüße / Best regards


                      • 8. Re: A Serious Solution for Fonts...
                        Yves Apel - IC Level 2



                        First of all. I can not speak for Adobe or other font vendors. My answers are strictly related to my private experience I had in different E-Book projects.


                        If the Adobe Employee tells you that it is allowed to embed the Adobe font you have, without additional license or restrictions, you might ignore my comment above. Not every, every commercial font needs a separate ePub license. Most do, some do not. This depends on the font vendor. If you take a look at the different Licensing models from the great vendors Linotype, FontFont, MyFonts, fonts.com, ... they all do require separate licensing for fonts embedded into E-Books. Adobe might be one of the exceptions.


                        But also Adobe itself is not really consequent in subject of Typekit vs FontFolio Fonts, that's why I understand your confusion. What I can tell due to the licensing options of Typekit is, that you are allowed to embed adequately protected Typekit desktop fonts into E-Books without additional license, as long as you don't move the font files themselves into the E-Book (http://help.typekit.com/customer/portal/articles/1341590#sync-pdf).


                        This means. Programs can embed fonts as long as they have access to the typekit fonts on the computer and as long as you don't need to specify them manually in explorer/finder, etc and as long as they are going to be protected when embedding.


                        Unfortunately this restricts usage much more as most people might think.


                        Kindle does not understand protected fonts. So forget typekit font usage in Kindle. Yes, they can be embedded. But only in protected format which can't be displayed on Kindle devices. So only a waste of space if you include Typekit fonts in kindle. I've asked an Adobe Typekit Employee some time ago, why Kindle (mobi) is mentioned in the license policy as embeddable E-Book format. Due to the missing support of protected fonts, the Typekit fonts can't be used. The emplyee wrote me that he will come back to me with an answer. I have to get this statement until today, which tells me that they probably don't know them self on how to deal with E-Books and fonts.


                        Sigil and Calibre have no direct access to the typekit fonts. You need to specify them by using the integrated explorer/finder feature to add them to the ePub (this is manual adding of font files). So Sigil and Calibre are also out of the game.


                        In fact, only InDesign uses and embedds Typekit fonts as they are allowed due to the Typekit EULA.


                        And here is the inconsequence of the story. On the Font Folio page, the licensing has no indication about E-Book embedding (I assume the EULA has not been updated to new technology since years), It says "editable embedding" is allowed for some fonts such as the minion. So flip a coin and hope that this indication includes the usage in E-Book projects. On the other Hand, the same font (here minion) included in the Adobe Typekit service has great restrictions in E-Books.


                        Do you need a separate ePub licence for minion?

                        --> I don't think so


                        Can you embed them into ePub?

                        --> I think yes, but only if they are protected


                        What about the minion in a Kindle document?

                        --> Protected fonts can't be displayed on Kindle devices.



                        I suppose, this is not what you would like to read. But it's how I applied the fonts subject to my projects till now.


                        Kind regards,


                        • 9. Re: A Serious Solution for Fonts...

                          Hello Yves,


                          your answer was a great help, thank you.


                          Best regards


                          • 10. Re: A Serious Solution for Fonts...
                            Peter Villevoye Adobe Community Professional

                            Ah, it's dawning to me that "embedding font data" and "moving the font files" into the ePub is not the same.

                            In the Help page that Yves mentioned it says verbatim:

                            Can I embed synced fonts in a PDF or ebook?

                            Yes. Fonts synced from Typekit are licensed for embedding in any ebook format which adequately protects the font data such as EPUB, iBooks, Kindle (mobi), Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite (DPS), and PDF.

                            Any ebook authoring workflow which requires the user to move the font files themselves is not allowed under the Typekit Services Agreement, however.


                            I think it is important to clarify that online font services like Adobe's Typekit, MyFonts' Skyfonts, and many others are not embedding or delivering the font in a way that can be compared with the way how most font foundries state their licenses for the use and redistribution of "web fonts".

                            Typekit and SkyFonts use proprietary server methods and scripts to let you (as the creator) and eventually the reader use and see their fonts through online connections in a cleverly protected way. The font is actually sent in separate parts, and temporarily 'zipped' together again by a script, on-screen, in the webpage. So nor you nor the viewer receives the actual and normal font. That's why this protection works good enough for many font foundries to have trust in these services, to distribute their fonts for online web purposes.


                            Like Typekit states at the bottom of that same Help page:

                            Can I use web fonts for anything other than a website?

                            Probably not. If your website or web application is viewed in the browser (either on the desktop or on a mobile device), it's covered by the web font license. The Typekit web font license requires that the fonts be added to a website with the JavaScript embed code that we provide.


                            Although an ePub is technically a "web" technology with HTML, CSS and JavaScripts, all primary content needs to be resident and executed within the ePub itself, because the ePub standard doesn't allow the ePub to have any content or technology going online. ePubs must be able to be viewed offline ! (A web link is of course permitted, because it would start a web browser and leave the ePub reader.) So Typekit or SkyFonts can't do what they need to do online, to serve the font and protect it 'on-the-go', at any moment the ePub is being read (both online and offline).


                            So in an ePub, any font could simply be put and found somewhere inside the ePub folder. Anyone who knows how to open an ePub, can access the fonts and re-use them. Just like with self-hosted fonts for websites: if you can hack the URL, you've got the font.


                            But because InDesign is able to "embed" the Typekit (and other) fonts in an encrypted and protected way without moving the actual font files into the ePub, it will work – most of the time...


                            Am I right ?

                            • 11. Re: A Serious Solution for Fonts...
                              Yves Apel Level 3

                              Yeah, I also think that "moving" is completely misleading. I would find copying or archiving better than moving or embedding. The point is that the font is included in the ePub(-Package).


                              If I look at the point:

                              Any ebook authoring workflow which requires the user to move the font files themselves is not allowed under the Typekit Services Agreement, however.


                              I understand it this way. If the software asks the user, where to find the font files for embedding (as Sigil, Calibre and Co. do) it is not permitted due to the Typekit license, since the user has to navigate himself to the hidden TK folder where the fonts are stored on your computer.


                              If however the software knows by itself where the font files can be found (such as InDesign does), it is permitted by the TK license. The user only checks the appropriate option in the export option.




                              Web-Embedded is also misleading, since they are only loaded temporary into the browser cache from a separate source. It should be web-loaded fonts.

                              "Embedded" is for me, as it is the case in PDF. They are completely integrated into the PDF. But what about "encoded" (64 bit encoding to include fonts in CSS, etc.) This would be also embedded. Aargh, who wants to create a glossary with all its variations?