Why do I get a “missing fonts” message?

Creatives spend roughly eight hours a week on nuisance tasks like this—a full day's worth of time spent not designing.

One of the most frustrating disruptions a designer encounters is when fonts are missing for a project.

How can fonts be “missing,” you ask? If you’re a designer, chances are you’ve encountered this problem. But the idea of missing fonts may still be somewhat puzzling, especially outside the creative community. Here’s how it happens.

Let’s say someone sends a you a file for a design project. This can be in any design program, such as Sketch, Illustrator, Photoshop, or InDesign. If the project uses fonts, the design program will attempt to load the fonts used in the project when you open the file.

This is where things can get tricky. You need to have the correct fonts installed on your machine for the design program to load them. If you doesn’t have the correct fonts, design programs will substitute other fonts in their place or display “tofu,” which are basic shapes (usually squares) used to replace missing fonts. 

It goes without saying that this is less than ideal. First, you may not even know the wrong fonts are being displayed, and carry on working without flagging the issue. This is a clear risk to brand consistency and can lead to time-consuming retroactive design fixes further down the workflow.

If you do notice the substitute fonts, you must embark on a frustrating process of tracking down and installing the correct ones. Creatives spend roughly eight hours a week on nuisance tasks like this—a full day’s worth of time spent not designing. In addition to simply losing time, these disruptions can derail your creative process, which is often already compromised by other demands on your time.

A simple solution.

Currently, the only solution to missing fonts is to go find them. This can be simple if your team’s font files are well-organized—a manageable nuisance, let’s say.

But more often than not, the process lands somewhere between frustrating and excruciating-to-the-point-of-questioning-your-career-choices. It can involve emailing several people, waiting for responses, searching through countless files with opaque names, or even licensing a font when you just can’t find it. 

However, Monotype Fonts now solves this problem by doing all the searching for you. When you open a file in your design program, the Monotype Fonts app automatically identifies any missing fonts and finds them in our library of over 150,000 fonts (as well as any additional fonts the user’s organization has added to the library). Monotype Fonts then provides a prompt to install them, and with just a few clicks you’re on your way.

In addition to sparing yourself a load of frustration, fixing the missing fonts issue saves time and money as well. After all, you didn’t go to design school to spend your days searching for fonts, and companies don’t hire designers to do so, either.

Missing fonts is not the only creative headache Monotype Fonts solves for designers. Check out our demo video for a look at all the tools and functionality available