The selection of fonts is central to document design. Knowing how to choose fonts not only affects legibility, but it also reinforces a document's
tone and content. Yet, until recently, few Linux users gave font selection much thought. Font installation was esoteric, and the user-base consisted
mainly of developers, who generally preferred the markup language approach of delivering content that leaves layout to style sheets and XSLTs.
In the last few years, the push to prepare Linux for the desktop has changed all of that. On both KDE and GNOME, font installation now is as easy to
accomplish as it is on any other operating system. In addition, the introduction of office suites such as OpenOffice.org has introduced Linux to
software that encourage users to think about format as much as content.
Even if you are not a content-purist, these changes sometimes seem to be a mixed blessing. They not only threaten new users with option anxiety, they
also are a major cause of design atrocities. The trouble is, design in general and font selection in particular in an office suite require a rare
mixture of skills. On the one hand, successful font selection requires a technical knowledge of both how fonts work and the tools available in the
office suite for selecting and manipulating them. On the other hand, it also requires a knowledge of design and of what choices are likely to work in
a given set of circumstances. What's more, neither body of knowledge is much good without the other.