When was the last time you had to reach for a font-reference book to identify a font for an advert or logo? And remember having to painstakingly recreate poor-quality scanned text?
Wouldn’t it be convenient to be able to scan a line of characters and have a program tell you what the typeface is. Such a program exists: FontExpert. It compares a scanned sample with its database of over 27,000 font weights, and attempts to identify the face and foundry.
The key to a good result is the initial scan. As FontExpert has no TWAIN input, third-party scanning software is required, plus a scanner capable of delivering 1,200dpi scans for smallish text.
FontExpert’s user interface is basic, but easy to use. On opening the text, or pasting it from the clipboard, individual letters are selected, usually via the magic-wand tool. Alternatively, letters can be rubber-banded, or regions selected with the polygon tool. There is also an invert tool for handling white text on a black background, and two tools that correct aspects of poor scans: the eraser separates connected letters, and the rotater levels the text. Given the need for an external scan, and that most scanners are handled through a Photoshop plug-in, such tools are largely superfluous.
With a single letter selected, a click on the corresponding letter square in the Marked Characters palette sets it up for checking. FontExpert recommends using at least two characters, although it really comes down to selecting letters with distinctive characteristics. With letters selected, the procedure starts with a click on the Result button. As each character is analyzed, its square turns either green for a perfect match, yellow for a possible match, or red for no match at all. The two-part Result window then shows the most likely font, with its percentage accuracy, its foundry, and possible alternatives via the Similar Fonts window.
FontExpert is a very well-kept secret – even www.versiontracker.com lists only version 2. It has a high success rate, and allows you to expand the database with unknown fonts on your system. I’ve been using it for many a year, and it’s invaluable. All for less than the cost of a single, multi-weighted font.
Min specs: System OS 7; 5MB RAM.