Make your own fonts in Win­dows 10

You can make your own font in just a few min­utes, us­ing the free Mi­crosoft Font Maker app, writes MARK HACHMAN

Tech Advisor - - Contents -

Mi­crosoft’s Font Maker app feels like some­thing your par­ents should know about: a fun, quirky, but still use­ful way of turn­ing their hand­writ­ing into an ac­tual font for in­vi­ta­tions and other per­son­al­ized notes. Mi­crosoft qui­etly launched Font Maker in con­junc­tion with the beta re­leases of Win­dows 10 that it

dis­trib­utes to mem­bers of its Win­dows In­sider pro­gram. But it’s re­ally just an app that can be down­loaded from the Win­dows Store, and you can down­load and use it even if you have an or­di­nary ver­sion of Win­dows 10. Cre­at­ing a font from your hand­writ­ing should take about five to ten min­utes, tops.

The only real re­quire­ment is a touch­screen PC, prefer­ably a tablet that you can lay flat to write upon. And yes, you’ll prob­a­bly want a sty­lus, prefer­ably an ac­tive one. You can cre­ate your own fonts us­ing a mouse, but the let­ters prob­a­bly won’t look like your hand­writ­ing, which is re­ally the point.

A quick bit of setup

Be­fore you be­gin, take a mo­ment and en­sure your pen is set up cor­rectly. Con­nect it via Blue­tooth, if it isn’t al­ready. You can use a pas­sive sty­lus if you’d like, though an ac­tive one al­lows you to eas­ily erase mis­takes. (Don’t sweat it, though – sim­ply cre­at­ing a new font isn’t a rea­son to run out and spend £99 on a Mi­crosoft Sur­face Pen (fave.co/2rkBIqM).)

You can ei­ther click the pen icon on the taskbar or man­u­ally en­ter the Set­tings > De­vices > Pen & Win­dows Ink menu to tweak your pen’s set­tings fur­ther. Here, I’d rec­om­mend telling Win­dows which hand you write with and ig­nor­ing touch in­put while us­ing your pen. Win­dows didn’t do a great job of ig­nor­ing my palm while cre­at­ing my font, caus­ing me to bounce out of the app on a few oc­ca­sions.

Oth­er­wise, you’re al­most ready. Down­load the Mi­crosoft Font Maker app from the Win­dows Store, which weighs in at a bit more than 50MB.

Cre­ate your first Font Maker font in min­utes

Af­ter first launch­ing Font Maker, you may see a per­mis­sions screen ask­ing you to al­low Mi­crosoft to anony­mously col­lect your ink strokes to im­prove Win­dows. Whether you choose to do so is up to you; it won’t af­fect your abil­ity to use Font Maker.

Oth­er­wise, you’ll be faced with a page of in­di­vid­ual char­ac­ter tem­plates, which may hear­ken back to your kinder­garten days. For each char­ac­ter, there’s a ‘guide’ that quickly dis­ap­pears when you be­gin ink­ing within the box. Other lines will guide you in how large to make each char­ac­ter, as well as how to align each whorl and loop. Note this is an English-lan­guage font

guide; I haven’t seen any op­tions for um­lauts or the French cedilla, for ex­am­ple.

Don’t take Mi­crosoft’s guide­lines as gospel; for ex­am­ple, if you want to ink a sim­ple ‘g’ with an ‘eye and fish­hook’, feel free. And if a full-fledged am­per­sand isn’t your style, don’t feel com­pelled to use one. It’s prob­a­bly bet­ter if you sim­ply ink each char­ac­ter quickly, to pre­serve ‘your’ style. Note, how­ever, that light, quick pen strokes may also re­sult in a font that is too ‘spindly’, so ink­ing slower and press­ing harder may make a bit of dif­fer­ence. (You can also make your font bold, which adds to the thick­ness of the ink.)

Un­for­tu­nately, nei­ther the Backspace key nor Ctrl-Z seem to work to undo er­rors or messy ink strokes, at least in the it­er­a­tion of the soft­ware I tried. You should be able to erase them with a Sur­face Pen or other ac­tive sty­lus, how­ever. Make sure you ink all of the char­ac­ters, or Font Maker will sim­ply leave them out of your font.

You can save your work in-progress us­ing the ‘Save’ com­mand, which stores it as a .jf­proj project file. But just as you can’t edit an ex­ist­ing TrueType font stored within Win­dows, you can’t edit your cus­tom font once you’ve fi­nal­ized it.

Fine-tune your Font Maker font

In the screen­shot below, you can see the three phrases that help Win­dows as­cer­tain how your words will be spaced and how phrases will look. It doesn’t ap­pear that Mi­crosoft Font Maker is cap­tur­ing the shapes of the let­ters you ink, just the spac­ing, so you don’t need to be too care­ful.

Fi­nally, Win­dows will present a page show­ing your font in ac­tion, with a page from Ham­let. This is the fi­nal op­por­tu­nity to ad­just the size of your font, the space be­tween char­ac­ters, and the space be­tween words. If you see a let­ter that looks out of whack, you can retreat to the pre­vi­ous two screens via the tiny backspace or left-point­ing ar­row at the top-left corner of the screen, though you’ll prob­a­bly want to re-ink those three test phrases again. Don’t worry too much about the size of the font, as you can al­ways ad­just it in an app like Word. When you have ev­ery­thing the way you like, click the Cre­ate but­ton

to ex­port your font. (Click­ing Save cre­ates an­other project file, which is op­tional.)

Use your new font within Win­dows

Ideally, Font Maker would save your new font within the Fonts folder, so that you’d in­stantly able to use it within Word. Un­for­tu­nately, Win­dows doesn’t do that yet. In fact, if you try to save it within the Fonts folder (go to the File Ex­plorer folder icon on your taskbar, then go to This PC > Lo­cal Disk > Win­dows > Fonts) it won’t even show up as an avail­able des­ti­na­tion.

There’s an easy fix, how­ever. Save the font in a known lo­ca­tion (the Doc­u­ments folder is the de­fault) then sim­ply open File Ex­plorer, right-click your font, and copy it. Find the Fonts folder again, right-click, and paste it. You’ll see a brief progress bar ex­plain­ing

that your font is be­ing in­stalled. (If you later de­cide that you’d like to delete your font en­tirely and start over, you can also right-click your font and se­lect Delete.)

Af­ter that, when you open Word, WordPad, or an­other app that pulls fonts from your font folder, you should see your font in the list of fonts, which is al­pha­bet­ized by name. (One ex­cep­tion, oddly, is the Fonts sub­menu within Win­dows Set­tings, which doesn’t list it.) Like any other font, you’ll be able to ad­just the size and colour and other at­tributes, in­clud­ing bold­face ital­ics.

Font Maker is not an es­sen­tial part of Win­dows; it’s one of those odd fu­sions of cre­ativ­ity and pro­duc­tiv­ity

that Mi­crosoft seems enamoured with. But the next time your par­ents are paper­ing the neigh­bour­hood with in­vi­ta­tions to the lo­cal sum­mer block party, en­cour­age them to try Font Maker. It’s a great way of mak­ing doc­u­ments uniquely theirs.

Be­gin ink­ing char­ac­ters within each of the boxes to be­gin cre­at­ing your font within Mi­crosoft Font Maker

Here’s a test page of sorts for how your fi­nal font will look. You’ll have a chance to tweak some things, such as spac­ing

Here’s the folder where your Win­dows 10 fonts live. You’ll prob­a­bly need to copy and paste your new Mi­crosoft Font Maker font here to be able to use it within apps like Mi­crosoft Word

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