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Font Guidelines

In the world of digital typography, a “font” is the look of the typeface: this is different from this and different from this. Fonts are fun and important — they add a visual dimension to your message. And there are some guidelines for appropriate use.

Personal or commercial use?

Your computer and its software programs come with a variety of fonts; you can purchase (download) additional fonts from online font companies. Prices range from free to not-free to quite expensive. Some free fonts are designated for personal use only; you must pay for a license if you intend to use them commercially.

Modify conservatively

Most software programs allow you to vary the look of the font. Good design practice dictates that “less is more”: to emphasize text, choose to underline, italicize, CAPITALIZE, or use bold or color. But do not use all of them at the same time!

Choose the right font for the right feature

Fonts for paragraph text should be uncomplicated and easy to read, like the one you are reading right now. Fonts for headings, sub-headings, and logos can be more “adventurous.”

Sending documents with “fancy” fonts

Not every computer can (or will) read every font it receives. If you send an email or a Word or Excel document using an awesome new font, understand that it might not appear as you intended on your’s recipient’s computer. If his computer doesn’t have that particular font, it will substitute a close one, or if necessary, display a generic font. Some computers will display an incoming email in a particular font, regardless of the font in which it was sent.

Typography is both an art and a science, and I welcome its challenge. I hope you do too.

“Freeze Panes” in Excel

In Microsoft Excel, column and row headings are quite useful … unless you can’t see them.

Suppose you are planning your golf group’s schedule for the next few months. You enter the names of those in the group in rows down the left-hand column, and you enter the game dates in columns across the top. You place an “X” in some cells to designate who is playing on which date. This is easy, as long as you can see the names on the left and the dates at the top. However, as you scroll to the right to look at the dates further in the future, or you scroll down to find the names at the bottom of the list, you risk losing sight of the headings you need.

There should be a way to hold the column and row headings in place while you scroll through the rest of the sheet.

There is. It’s called “Freeze Panes.”

Click on any cell in your spreadsheet. Then click “Freeze Panes.” (On a Windows computer it’s in the “View” tab; on a Mac, it’s in the “Window” menu). Now scroll vertically and horizontally. The panes above and to the left of the selected cell are fixed, all the other cells will move. Cool.

Now you can freeze the column with your friends’ names and the row with the game dates, making entering the “X” symbols in the correct cells much easier.

A few notes about Freeze Panes:

  • How well this works for you depends on the cell you choose before you click “Freeze Panes.” You might need to do it a few times before you find the best choice.
  • If you wish to re-select the cell, or you are finished with the frozen panes altogether, unfreeze them by clicking “Unfreeze Panes” in the same location as the “Freeze” command.
  • You may not need to freeze panes at all; the number of rows and columns visible before your headings disappear will vary with the size of your screen and your page magnification.

Freezing panes is one of my favorite Excel tools. Try it. It might become one of yours too.

Earbud Etiquette

Seeing people walk down the street appearing to be talking to themselves is not as strange as it used to be. Nor is it strange to see them tapping their feet to a beat that you cannot hear. Aha! Earbuds — aka “headphones.”

Earbuds are great! A hands-free private phone conversation from anywhere. A concert of your personal playlist at your desired volume. Nothing better.

But, there are rules — or at least courtesies — you should keep in mind:

  • Turn your earbuds off and take them out of your ears when you meet someone with whom you wish to speak. If the volume remains on, you will tend to talk above the music and probably shout. If your earbuds are still in your ears, the person with whom you are speaking might wonder if you are listening to him or to someone (or something) more interesting.
  • Keep the volume in your earbuds low enough so no one in the same room can hear what you are listening to, or even the beat of your music.
  • When using the earbud microphone, speak in your regular phone voice. Earbud microphones are pretty sophisticated. Don’t scream — you don’t have to.
  • Keep a pair of earbuds on your bedside table. If you wake in the middle of the night and wish to watch a movie, the news, or a video on your mobile device, be courteous to your partner.
  • If you are in an earbud conversation and someone approaches you and speaks, motion to her that you are speaking/listening to someone else, or she will assume you are listening to her. Likewise, if you approach someone with earbuds in his ears, get his attention and confirm he can hear you before you begin speaking to him.

Always good to be aware of proper etiquette. ‘Ear ‘Ear!

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