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Chapter 4. Text > Using Font Symbols for Dynamic Type Styling

Using Font Symbols for Dynamic Type Styling

By using font symbols—which allow you to separate characters from their font styles—you can make your Flash movies even more dynamic. Let's say, for example, that your movie uses the text "Hello" throughout. This word contains the characters H-e-l-l-o but has no inherent font style—you must give it one. To do so, you create a font symbol based on the Arial font and assign it a name, such as My Favorite Font. In a roundabout way, which you'll learn more about soon, My Favorite Font* will now appear on the font menu of the Character panel (Figure 4.18). (The asterisk indicates My Favorite Font is a font symbol).

Figure 4.18. Font symbols appear on the font menu of the Character panel with an asterisk next to them.


You can now apply My Favorite Font (which is actually the Arial font style) to the text in your movie that reads "Hello." When you export your movie, any text that says "Hello" will appear in the Arial font because that's the style on which it's based. The best thing about all this is that if you ever change the font style associated with My Favorite Font, all the "Hello" text in your exported movie will be converted to the new style (a time-consuming task if performed manually). This is similar to the way HTML uses cascading style sheets to separate content from design.

To create a font symbol:

1.
Choose Window > Library to open the library window.

2.
Press the Library Options button in the top-right corner of the library window and choose "New Font…" from the menu that appears.

3.
.In the Font Symbol Properties dialog box that appears, give your font a name such as MyFavoriteFont.

4.
From the Font pop-up menu, choose the font that you want to use as a basis for this font symbol (for example, Arial).

5.
Check the style options to allow the font to appear in those styles as well.

6.
Click OK. The font symbol now appears in the Library window with the name you gave it. It will also appear in the list of available fonts on the Character menu (Figure 4.19).

Figure 4.19. When you create a font symbol, it's automatically added to the library and to the font menu of the Character panel.


To use a font symbol for formatting text:

1.
Select the text you wish to format.

2.
With the Character panel open, the name of your font symbol (My Favorite Font) will appear on the Font menu with an asterisk next to it. Select this font, which applies the Arial font style to the selected text (since it's the style associated with the My Favorite Font font symbol).

If you were to export your movie now, all of the text associated with My Favorite Font would appear in the Arial font. However, if you wanted your text to be displayed in Times New Roman instead, all you would need to do is open the library and edit the My Favorite Font symbol to reflect that font style.

To update the style associated with a font symbol:

1.
With your authoring file open, choose Window > Library to open the library.

2.
Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Macintosh) the font symbol (My Favorite Font) and choose Properties from the menu that appears. The Font Symbol Properties dialog box will appear.

3.
From the Font pop-up menu, choose a different font style (Times New Roman) to associate with this font symbol.

4.
Click OK.

Export the movie again and the text formerly associated with My Favorite Font will now appear in Times New Roman (Figure 4.20).

Figure 4.20. Changing the font style associated with a font symbol will update every instance in your movie where the font symbol was applied to text.


Using Font Symbols in Shared Libraries

Once you've created a font symbol, you can make the font symbol into what's known as a shared library asset. This entails a few more steps than above, but it opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for using fonts in your movies. By turning a font symbol into a shared library asset, you can use it across multiple SWFs. The benefits of this are two-fold: First, because font information is stored in a central location (the shared library), users only have to download it once rather than embed font information in every movie, thereby minimizing download time. Second, when you update the font style associated with the font symbol in the shared library, all text "linked" to that font symbol will be updated automatically to reflect the updated font style.

For information about shared libraries, see Chapter 9, "Using the Library to Manage Your Assets."

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