5. Producing Portable Documents

Yes, we know you had created rich documents, presentations, spreadsheets and web pages that looked great in your computer, but when opened in your friend's machine they looked completely unformated. So lets discuss here some good practices we found to avoid these annoying drawbacks.

5.1. Linux to Windows and vice-versa

If you need to exchange documents with Windows users, you should use Windows fonts. This is the general rule. So you should install the Webcore Fonts package and take care to use only Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana, etc, on your docs.

The combination of these fonts with the cross-platform, high quality OpenOffice.org suite, gives you a truly productive teamwork tool.

5.2. Linux to Linux

The fonts available on modern Linux distributions, to produce good quality documents are the following:

Table 2. General Linux Free Fonts

Bitstream Charter
Bitstream Vera family
Century Schoolbook
Luxi family
Nimbus family
URW Palladio
URW Bookman
URW Chancery
URW Gothic

Using these fonts you'll be able to safely exchange and print documents between different modern Linux distributions.

There are other fonts available on your Linux system, but we did not list them here because they are low-quality (obsolete) bitmap fonts, to be used on the screen, and not for documents.

5.3. Any to Any with OpenOffice.org and Bitstream Vera Fonts

The title says it all. OpenOffice.org's all platform packages include the Bitstream Vera package. So if you'll take care to use only these fonts, your documents will open nicely in any other OpenOffice.org installation.

As a side note, OpenOffice.org excels in portability. In any platform, OOo looks and works the same, and it takes special care with your documents layout. It is simply a great tool.

5.4. A Very Small Guide of Style

To make your documents have a professional look, you should choose the correct font for the document purpose. Our current culture standardized that serif fonts (Times, etc) are the right choice for books and magazines. Now sans-serif fonts (Arial, Helvetica, Verdana) are gaining space and some may feel these fonts provide a more modern look, because of their lack of serifs. We have seen them being used in printed articles and commercial proposals.

For web pages, Arial and Helvetica or specially Verdana, are definitively the right choice.

For further more deep information, please refer to Section 7, “Designer's Guide for Modern Good Looking Documents”, by Donovan Rebbechi on typography, about cultural and social facts that influenced font designing evolution, and what are being produced today by designers.