Wedding Typography: Designing in Non-design Programs


For most of these Wedding Month posts I’ve made the assumption that I’m talking to designers who are well outfitted to create layouts using the latest design software, but I realize that with this subject I’m sure to get a number of readers interested in typography who don’t necessarily know their way around or have access to common design programs such as Adobe Illustrator or InDesign. This one is for you.

Begin with the end in mind

If you’re outsourcing the printing, (instead of printing at home), your printer will need a high-quality file from which to produce the final piece. PDF is generally preferred. Let’s do a quick test. Open up your word processor of choice, write the word ‘test’ and save or export a PDF of the test file. Word/TextEdit/Publisher/Pages all do this, but depending on the operating system and version of your software, you may be required to install an additional piece of software that allows you to create PDF files by ‘printing to PDF.’

Having to come up with some workaround PDF creator is more likely for Windows users, since Mac has had native support for it for the last ten or so years. If you’ve tried to save to, export to, or print to PDF with no luck, search the web for a PDF printer such as CutePDF or BullZip PDF (just to name a couple popular ones). These install like normal software, but when you need to export a PDF, instead of finding it in your export settings, instead you go as you would to print the file to a locally connected printer, and select this service, CutePDF or whatever, instead. A dialog guides you through the process of where the PDF is to be saved. If Adobe Acrobat Pro has ever been installed on your system, you’ll find you already have a PDF printer (called Adobe PDF), and in fact, the ability to save to PDF from nearly all your programs. Adobe Acrobat Reader (the limited, read-only version) is not Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Microsoft Office users since Office 2007 have had the ability to export to PDF (I think). Microsoft’s page on how to do this covers Word, Publisher, and others.

Google Documents can be a nice option, since the ability to produce PDFs is built in. The one major hangup is that you’re limited to Google’s catalog of fonts, which may or may not coincide with what you’ve got installed on your own system. If the one you want to use is installed on your computer, but not in Google’s, you can’t use it. There are however a number of very good typefaces to choose from, like Juan Pablo del Peral’s Alegreya, along with plenty of so-sos.


Produce it

After you’ve successfully exported a PDF and opened it to make sure it works, you’re ready to start on the real invitation. The great thing about formal invitations is that most of the designing has already been done. Set the dimensions of the cards you’ll print on, follow the guidelines in my previous post on working with scripts, export your PDF, send it off to your printer, and you’re done. Just to reiterate, the guidelines in brief are these: Use a single size. Set the line height to a generous increment. Center all text. Make sure the fine lines in the type are of sufficient weight. Particularly designing in Windows, I recommend following Mayene’s recommendations on choosing script faces with limited character palettes. Or if you decide to go with an engravers face such as Sweet Sans, make sure to choose the simplified non-pro version for access to the small caps.

You’re not alone.

Give us a call or e-mail us if you have any questions about which of our fonts will work in which programs. It’s of course not our line of work to teach you how to use your computer or manage your relationship with a printer, but for anything font-support-related we’re here to help. Special thanks to Cyrus Highsmith’s Novia for setting the samples. Using Type continues here Thursday.

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