Thursday, June 18, 2020

Optima for PC Users...and Breaking the Word Processor Habit

A few days ago, I highly recommended the Optima type face for writing (though not necessarily for publishing/printing).

It looks like Optima is only free for Mac users; Apple paid the price to make it one of the system fonts. PC users need to buy it here. You want the first choice, "Optima Pro Roman, which costs $35. If you want the font, you need to pay, because no PC system font looks anything like Optima, and you don't want to download freebie Optima knock-offs, which will likely be malware.

Italic and bold versions cost more, but I never use those styles, because I write in a text editor, not a word processor. Text editors only handle vanilla plain text. If I need to signify "bold" or "italic", I do so via tagging, in either Markdown (easy - it looks like *this* or like _this_) or HTML (higher learning curve - it looks, roughly, like [b]this[/b] or like [i]this[/i]). These tags, written in plain old text, get translated into visible (aka WYSIWYG, aka "What You See is What You Get") styles later, when I set up the finalized text for printing or publication in a different environment with different fonts.

I understand this is puzzling to those caught up in the 20th century word processor model, but millions have made the leap and feel deliriously free and happy. Writing is just writing (whether for work, email, reports, your great unpublished novel, or whatever), stripped of fidgety layout/design considerations. You work on words, not words-as-graphical-elements. Styling and layout enter into the equation once you're done writing, and you can set up templates and automation so the tagged text pipes right into your desired finished format (just for starters, your hoary word processor can easily import tagged text from text editors).

So plain old Optima (the best writing font) is sufficient. You don't need bold or italic because a writing font is strictly for wrangling words. And while that's a low-pizzazz undertaking, you still need to stare at these characters for as long as it takes, which makes the $35 a worthwhile investment.

If you buy and load Optima, you can certainly use it in word processors, but it won't do bold or italic. If you insist on sticking with the word processor, you can workaround by using all-caps, or else just spend the money on the bold and italic versions (but know that you're up-spending to service a moldly and archaic word processing habit!).

More on Markdown:
An extensive screencast by an affable Brit. Requires 7 day free trial, but you might want to consider joining the site (their library of tech screencasts is extensive and terrific).

This $9.99 e-book goes deep into Markdown but also extends a helping hand to newbies.

This overview is a bit geeky but makes a handy guide


Anonymous said...

WYSIWYG means "what you see" when you are editing "is what you get" when you print; therefore it's your editor and its content that is or, in your case, is not WYSIWYG.

The text can be WYSIWYG only when you are editing, otherwise you are editing markup or marked-up text; Microsoft calls the whole concept rich text which means text-plus-properties, displayed either as WYSIWYG or marked up and rendered for printing. For the output you are trying to describe, "typeset" might be the best word for what you are trying to say as there is no modern equivalent except perhaps "rendered" (did used to be called a "press file" in the early modern era).

You can convert marked up text--markdown is a particular language for mark-up--to WYSIWYG for editing, but it wouldn't be right to call rendering for display or printing "converting to WYSIWYG" because WYSIWYG was invented to not do that.

Jim Leff said...

Yep, but you are needlessly complicating exactly what I was trying to simplify.

The people who care about this semantic issue are the people who don't need a simplified explanation. And such people enjoy a multitude of pedantic discussions of the issue that normal people can't begin to parse. And the necessary cut corners in my explanation for normal people don't reflect a lack of comprehension on my part.

Blog Archive