Tinderbox Forum

Updating the Text Font in the document inspector

When I set a new text font in the document inspector, bold and italic text does not update.

I am sure I am missing something here, what might that be?

The simplest test I could come up with is this:


  • I create a new note in a new Tinderbox document
  • and enter some text, and make parts of the text bold and italics.
  • then I reset it to the document font, just to be sure


  • I open the document inspector and set the text font from Mercury to IdealSans (which also comes with Tinderbox)

What happens is that the normal text in the note updates, but the bold parts and the italic parts remain in Mercury.

When I force the note to use the document font, all is fine. But when I then change back to Mercury, bold and italics remain in IdealSans.

I understand that for the font change to work reliably, the new font must bring a dedicated style for Italic and Bold, which I believe both fonts in my example do. I tried this also with Helvetica Neue, Jost* or Open Sans, but the result was the same.

So what is the best practice for changing the text font? Is there maybe a specific set of fonts can I reliably change between?

I found that RTF is not exposed via automation, is there any other way to automate forcing the font in all notes?

Until very recently, changing the default TextFont did not change existing notes at all. Now, it does update existing notes where they use the font that matches the previous default; it’s possible that we are being too strict in the matching.

[later] Yes, that’s the answer. We’ll take a more liberal approach in the next release, so in this case changing from Mercury to Ideal will also change Mercury-Bold to Ideal-Bold.

Thanks, that would be helpful.

I guess that would work for any font that comes with a separate face for bold, italics and bolditalics, right?

It’s beyond me why Apple’s font rendering isn’t clever enough to just use the bold face of a font for bold text if that exists. I would imagine that marking up text with a new font instead of simply marking it as bold leads to a lot of additional code.

I believe the underlying problem is that these issues have differential impacts in some other languages. For example, my understanding is that italic is not a concept in Chinese – which makes some sense, as Italian handwriting wouldn’t have been very important in early China. Similarly, Arabic introduces lots of complexity in ligatures and contextual letter forms.

And then, there’s the whole issue of uppercase numerals. Uppercase numerals?, you ask. Yep! It turns out that typographic numerals 3,5,7 and 9 typically run beneath the baseline. That’s nice in text, but looks odd in tables. And when you’re drawing the number in a circle — as Tinderbox maps do to indicate the number of elided inbound and outbound links — those descenders look terrible. So, you need to flag the numbers as uppercase (!), which forces them to align to the baseline.

In short, there are headaches here. I’m not sure that Apple gets things optimally correct, but they’re not trivial.

The Chinese appear to use slanted and cursive fonts, though.

Semantically marked up content and with style defined separately (see Tex or HTML) seems the way to go here, because emphasis and strong will still make sense in most languages.

Sorry, you lost me there, how would any of this prevent Apple from automatically using a bold font face for text that is marked up as bold?