Fonts – The History & Basics

Font History and Font Formats

There are different font formats – which one should I choose?

OpenType fonts (.OTF) – OpenType is a scalable format for computer fonts that was initially developed by Microsoft(TM), then later joined by Adobe(TM) Systems. OpenType fonts were first announced in 1996 and Adobe(TM) completed conversion of its entire font library to OpenType around the end of 2002. In 2005, there were around 10,000 fonts available in OpenType font format, with Adobe’s font library making up under a third of the total. As of 2006, every major font foundry and many minor ones were developing fonts in OpenType font format. TrueType fonts (TT or .TTF) – TrueType is a digital font technology that was designed by Apple(TM) Computer, and is now used by both Apple (Mac(TM)) and Microsoft (PC) in their operating systems. Microsoft has distributed millions of quality TrueType fonts in thousands of different styles. TrueType fonts offer the highest possible quality on computer screens, printers, and include a wide range of features which make them very easy to use. PostScript Fonts (Type 1) – PostScript fonts predates TrueType by about six years.

First, there were many different font formats for digital fonts, none of which were standardized. Then Apple adopted Adobe’s PostScript page description language (PDL) for its Apple LaserWriter printer in 1985. This, combined with the introduction of desktop publishing software, sparked a revolution in page layout technology.

ClearType Fonts – Microsoft ClearType fonts are an unprecedented innovation in font display technology that dramatically improves font display resolution and marks a genuine breakthrough in screen readability. These Microsoft fonts were designed by Microsoft and leading type designers and font technologists to improve the reading experience in Windows Vista(TM) and Microsoft Office 2007(TM). With ClearType font technology, the fonts on your computer screen look almost as sharp and clear as those printed on a piece of paper. The choice of font format is mostly based on the kind of documents you create and your computer environment. Here are some general guidelines: Nicknames

OpenType TT OpenType TT fonts contain TrueType® outlines, and have a .TTF file extension. This is the default font format of both Macintosh and Windows systems. OpenType fonts with TrueType outlines are popular among home users and both small and large businesses or other enterprises.

OpenType PS OpenType PS fonts contain PostScript® outlines, and have a .OTF file extension. OpenType PS fonts are replacing Type 1 fonts as users upgrade their systems.

Type 1 PostScript Type 1 is the original font format that was part of the desktop publishing revolution that started in 1985. Type 1 fonts for PostScript and PostScript compatible printers consist of more than one file and have a limited character set. These limitations are overcome with OpenType fonts.