InDesign Missing Fonts that Aren’t Missing!

You open a document that you have worked on previously and you get an error message to say one or more fonts are missing. You know they are not! Here’s what to do to fix the problem.

InDesign is missing a font for the following 3 reasons

  • duplicate fonts
  • a stolen font
  • or a font is deactivated.

It’s always frustrating when you sit down to complete a job and are faced with an error message. It takes up valuable time that should be spent working. Let’s look at some possible solutions to this problem.

Cross Platform

In the past it was nearly a given that if you were using Adobe products and a graphic designer that you were more than likely using a Mac OS. But that is definitely not the case nowadays. Because we now have cross platform usage this can lead to font problems.

Fonts that have moved cross platform, may look the same and may even have the same font name (Futura & Times New Roman as example), but they are very different fonts on each platform.

When you open a document that has a font that started life on a different platform to yours, your system realizes this and shows the error that the font is missing.

In order to solve this issue you need to replace the missing font with the correct font you have on your system.

Ideally you should use PostScript Fonts. These are original Adobe Fonts that don’t cause any issues when printed. However, you may not have a Post Script version, and only have a True Type Version. This should be ok, but you need to check that the font you choose to replace your ‘missing’ font looks similar to your original.

This should solve your missing font issue, however if your file is being sent to someone else to work on and they have a different platform to the problem will arise again on their end. If you package the file with Post Script Fonts the folder will travel and work much better.

Duplicate Fonts

This is another problem that can cause font headaches. Fonts arrive packaged with jobs and we automatically load them onto our machines through Font Folder or Font Book.

They sometimes have been renamed somewhere along the way but in actual fact are the same font as one we already have on our system. This causes problems when we open InDesign Files.

When yo open a file and it says font missing, your machine is trying to match your file with the font that has the same name on your system but if there are two with the same name then both will appear in the list.

The way to solve this is to uninstall the fonts and reload the one you have in either a source file or from an original system file.

Your machine will always throw an error if there are two similar fonts, with either the same folder name or subset name.

Sharing Fonts

Sharing fonts or indeed files can lead to software issues or corruption problems.

Fonts that come from a third party are to be avoided if at all possible.

We don’t know for sure where these fonts came from or where they originated. They may have been used as Adobe Typekit or Adobe CC. These fonts are perfectly legit if you are subscribed to this package.

But you don’t own these fonts. You are in fact only renting them from Adobe. If you pass them to someone else or someone passes them to you, you/or they need to be subscribed to the same package in order to be able to use them.

This may not be something you or they want to get involved in.

If you are saving files as PDF to send elsewhere or to a printer it won’t matter. It only becomes an issue if you are packaging a folder to share with someone.

So make sure to check with whomever you are sharing with that they have access to Adobe CC.

Activated Fonts/ Corrupt Fonts

The last reason that you might be getting this error message is because you have fonts on your system that are not activated.

Within Adobe CC there are many, many fonts available.

Open CC and Click on Manage Fonts

You can Browse More Fonts and add as many as you wish.

Don’t have too many active at any one time as this will slow your machine down.

When you return to the CC window they must be Activated or they will not show up in your InDesign font list.

You can also add fonts that have come from a third party within this window. But as I say, make sure they have come from a good source and do a virus check first.

Click on Add Fonts to CC

It is unlikely that there will be issues with CC fonts unless you add a duplicate from another source.

You can always do a quick check and deactivate or remove any doubles.

You also need to check that none of your fonts are corrupt. Again this is unlikely if you are only using Adobe CC fonts.

If you have fonts installed on your system that are showing as corrupt or problematic you need to remove them from your system.

You can read step by step how to do this here

You may find these other posts useful

How do I find a corrupt font?

How do I know which fonts are Type1?

Tara Cunningham

My name is Tara. I am a Graphic Designer for the last 25+ years. Designing everything from Wedding stationery to Magazines. I have been using Adobe products since I was in college and know all the tips and tricks that make life a little easier when completing a project. Hopefully you will find the answer to your question on

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