I was hired on 4 months ago to a company that had, in the past, been using the swis721 font family for a lot of their marketing materials.

From old emails, I can see that there was talk of switching over to Myriad instead and remaking the logo with Arial font. It seems like that switch was never fully made. I was told that I should be able to download and install the swis721 font family no problem. "It's a free font," they say.

One of my external graphics guys keeps sending me the files (since they're in use in one of our InDesign docs), but I receive them as file type "file" with size 0kb.

Should I assume that the files keep getting corrupted? Or does this font family cost money now and that's why I'm having issues?

I'm happy to buy the font, I just don't know what's going on.

  • 1
    In the ancient past, when I received a 0 byte font file from a designer using a Mac, the problem was the designer copying what was once called the "resource fork," and not providing the "data fork." If this company has been using a typeface "as old as dirt" or if the designer, like me, is older than dirt, then it may still be a two-fork file. It is kind of like only providing the desktop shortcut to the actual file.
    – Yorik
    Sep 27, 2016 at 20:40
  • Okay this makes sense to me. He is definitely using a Mac. Any idea how I can help him find said "data fork"? Sep 27, 2016 at 20:43
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    Is he sending you the fonts only? Probably the simplest way without getting preachy or being tech support is to ask him to send you a booklet or small document from the recent past that uses the typeface using the Indesign "Package" feature (with font inclusion enabled) and then have him ZIP/compress/archive the folder tree and send it to you.
    – Yorik
    Sep 27, 2016 at 21:09
  • Note that I may have reversed the "resource/data" thing, but you will know based on file size. You don't mention what OS you use, but if this is a two part file, and you are in windows, it may be possible to simply rename the file with a PFB or OTF extension. Otherwise you might be able to get them working using e.g. fontforge (do a spot check on the kerning/metrics afterwards to make sure it carried over)
    – Yorik
    Sep 27, 2016 at 21:16
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    Hopefully I've helped, but you can post an answer and accept it once you figure it out. And FYI, in that related link you can see that the actual font has a leading dot in the name. This usually means it is a hidden file which might explain why designers tend to copy the wrong thing.
    – Yorik
    Sep 27, 2016 at 21:26

1 Answer 1


Swiss 721 is a commercial font distributed by Bitstream:


It is actually Helvetica, but way back when. Bitstream managed to license a line of fonts, but not the actual names of said fonts, so Bitstream has a whole line of fonts that are essentially clones with a "generic" name replacing the original. (For instance, Humanist 521 is essentially Gill Sans).

Bottom line, no, it's not a free font. You technically are supposed to have a license of the font yourself.

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