Font management with current office suites

Stylistic

Similar to format management in other word processing systems, style management brings some order to the typeface jungle in Calligra. For this purpose, open the Styles | Style Manager dialog and optionally define a Font, Font style, and Size in the Font tab. In a small area at the bottom right, you are given a text preview while selecting a font and the various attributes (Figure 3).

Figure 3: With style sheets, you can set up fixed fonts in Calligra.

On the downside, the Calligra suite's support for non-standard writing systems has been only rudimentary up to now. Although it lets you write text from right to left, as is customary in Arabic, and insert Asian fonts, it does not render them completely correctly. Errors also often occur with copy-and-paste inserts, because Calligra shows single characters only as empty rectangles, which makes it impossible to insert or recreate a text completely in an Asian font.

LibreOffice and OpenOffice

The most widely used office package under Linux, LibreOffice [8], offers very extensive font management in the buttonbar. As with all large office applications, you choose the desired font and font size using the appropriate selection boxes and symbols and set font styles and attributes.

LibreOffice and OpenOffice [9] divide fonts internally into screen and printer fonts, which causes some pitfalls: The X server fonts are for screen display only, whereas the PostScript fonts are intended for both screen display and printing. Print fonts are handled by the FreeType library [10] in LibreOffice and OpenOffice; FreeType is available for both display forms. X server fonts therefore do not appear in the font selection box in LibreOffice.

If you want to use an X server font under LibreOffice or OpenOffice, you need to install it in PostScript or TrueType format. For this purpose, use the font management system integrated into all major desktop environments or a font manager such as Fontmatrix.

Alternatively, you can select a similar font in the replacement table to replace the missing character set. Both LibreOffice and OpenOffice offer a clear-cut dialog, which you will find in the Tools | Options menu. In the LibreOffice or OpenOffice.org area, select the Fonts option. In the list view that appears, enable the replacement table by checking the box to the left of the Apply replacement table entry. In the Font and Replace with selection fields, choose the desired fonts to transfer them to the table by clicking on the button with the checkmark to the right.

Before enabling settings, it is usually worth taking a look at the replacement table documentation that comes with LibreOffice [11]. The office suites allow various settings combinations that influence whether the replacement for the originally selected font appears only on the screen or in the print output, depending on the installation (Figure 4). Clicking on the OK button at the bottom of the dialog finally applies the configured replacement table.

Figure 4: A replacement table lets you define replacements for fonts that do not exist on the system.

Asian typeface systems have not posed insurmountable problems for LibreOffice and OpenOffice for some versions. However, you do need to configure them. In the first step, change the input method in the configuration dialog. In the Tools | Options | Language Settings | Languages menu, select the Asian (to enable Asian languages) and Complex text layout (CTL) entries. These ensure that the office suites display Asian fonts correctly and mirror the layout (Figure 5).

Figure 5: With just a few clicks, you can get OpenOffice and LibreOffice ready for Asian fonts.

You then need to copy the appropriate character sets into the designated directory to be able to select them in the office suite. To enter text with the corresponding font, modify the default language in the Tools | Language submenu. This can either be set for the active selection, the paragraph, or the entire text.

OnlyOffice

The OnlyOffice Desktop Editors office suite [12], which is strongly focused on collaborative work, also relies on the operating system's font management for a document's output design. Unlike other candidates, it does not offer a WYSIWYG preview for font selection; rather, it just lists the fonts available on the system. Because the software is strongly oriented toward cloud-based services, you will not find any options for font substitution.

As with the other office solutions, selection boxes for font and font size appear in the respective program window. You can also change attributes using buttons. However, further options are not available.

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