TrueTvpe (TT), PostScript® Tvpe : (Tvpe :) and
OpenTvpe® are all multi-platform outline font stan-
dards for which the technical specifcations are
openlv available. “Multi-platform” means that both
font tvpes are usable on multiple sorts of comput-
er svstems. “Outline font” means that thev describe
letter shapes (“glvphs”) bv means of points, which
in turn defne lines and curves. Tis representation
is resolution independent, meaning that outlines, bv
their verv nature, can be scaled to prettv much anv
arbitrarv size. Depending on the particular program
being used and the operating svstem it’s run under,
there mav be upper and lower limits to the size the
font can be scaled to, but few users will ever encoun-
ter these limits.
An outline font must be represented bv the dots
of the output device, whether it’s screen pixels or the
dots of a laser, ink-jet or wire-pin printer. Te pro-
cess of converting the outline to a pattern of dots on
the grid of the device is called “rasterization.”
When there aren’t enough dots making up the
glvph (such as at small sizes or low resolutions),
there can be inconsistencies in the representation
of certain letter features, at a single size, due to dif-
ferent rounding based on how the outline happens
to sit on the grid. A common form of this is that
the widths of the letter stems can varv when thev
shouldn’t. Worse, kev features of the glvphs can dis-
appear at small sizes.
However, Tvpe :, TrueTvpe and OpenTvpe fonts
all have a means of dealing with these inconsis-
tencies, called “hinting.” Tis consists of additional
information encoded in the font to help prevent
these problems.
Brief History
PostScript and the Tvpe : font format predate
TrueTvpe bv about six vears (with OpenTvpe being
a much later amalgamation of the two formats). First,
we had manv diferent formats for digital fonts, none
of which were standardized. Ten Apple adopted the
Adobe® PostScript page description language (PDL)
for its Apple LaserWriter printer in :o8,. Tis, com-
bined with the introduction of PageMaker®, the frst
desktop publishing sofware, sparked a revolution in
page lavout technologv.
Soon the PostScript language was adopted for use
in higher-end imagesetting devices, and became the
native operating mode and language of manv graph-
ics programs as well. Te command structure of the
PostScript language was publiclv available, so it was
possible for someone to build a PostScript interpret-
er to compete with Adobe’s rasterizing sofware. But
it wouldn’t be able to interpret the hints in Tvpe :
fonts. Tis was because the PostScript font specif-
cation for Tvpe : fonts, which included hinting, was
not publiclv available. Adobe had onlv released the
specifcations for Tvpe , fonts. Tvpe , fonts were a
more general format, but Tvpe : was smaller, faster,
TrueType, PostScript Type 1, & OpenType:
What’s the Diference?
by omas W. Phinney
Version :.::, December ,, :oo:
Copyiighi · :uu-–:oo: by Tomas Phinney, bui peimission is gianied io duplicaie and ie-disiiibuie ihis documeni, as long as
ii is iepioduced in full and unediied (including fooinoies, copyiighi and iiademaik infoimaiion). Please coniaci ihe auihoi by
e-mail (iphinney«, iphinney« piioi io any publicaiion oi iedisiiibuiion, io ensuie ihai ihe mosi
ieceni veision is used. Tis documeni is only available in Aciobai vuv foim. In ihe inieiesis of full disclosuie, noie ihai ihe auihoi
woiks in ihe iype gioup and Adobe. Howevei, eveiy efoii has been made io make ihis an impaiiial documeni. Special ihanks io
David Lemon, Kaihleen Tinkel, Jeiiy Hall, Tom Ricknei, Chiis Holm, Kaspai Biand and Vladimii Levaniovsky (among oiheis)
foi iheii invaluable feedback; howevei, any eiiois aie ihe auihoi’s sole iesponsibiliiy. See endnoie foi iiademaik infoimaiion.
· : ·
and had a native hinting structure (of which see
more below).
It rapidlv became obvious to the major svstem
sofware creators (Apple, Microsof, and later IBM)
that it was important to have scaleable font technol-
ogv supported at the level of the operating svstem
itself. Tis would allow much better screen displav,
compared to pre-made bitmaps which would onlv
look good at a few sizes, and would be jagged at all
others. So in the late :o8os, Apple developed its own
scaleable font technologv, frst code-named Roval,
and later introduced as TrueTvpe.
Apple traded the technologv to Microsof in
exchange for the latter’s TrueImage PostScript clone
technologv (which was buggv at the time, and never
used bv Apple, although it has surfaced in various
later incarnations). Te TrueTvpe specifcations were
made public, and TrueTvpe was built into the next
versions of the Mac and Windows® operating svs-
tems, released in :oo:.
Adobe’s response started with the release of the
long-protected specifcations for the PostScript
Tvpe : font format in March :ooo. Tis was followed
bv introduction of Adobe Tvpe Manager® (ATM®)
sofware in mid-:ooo. ATM scales PostScript Tvpe
: fonts for screen displav, and for imaging on non-
PostScript printers.
In earlv :oo:, TrueTvpe for the Mac became avail-
able, followed bv the Windows ,.: implementation
(the Windows scaler was and remains slightlv more
accurate/emcient than the Mac version, though it’s
nothing a normal user is likelv to notice). Now, with
either TrueTvpe or ATM, Mac users (and later Win-
dows and OS/: users) could actuallv see on-screen at
anv size what the font output would look like.
So now there were two widelv used outline font
specifcations, one (TrueTvpe) built into the operat-
ing svstems used bv most desktop computers world-
wide, and the other (PostScript Tvpe :) the de facto
standard for publishing and the graphic arts.
But as time goes on, the practical diferences begin
to blur. Te new OpenTvpe format (discussed later),
supports both TrueTvpe and PostScript outlines.
Support for TrueTvpe (via Apple’s TrueTvpe ras-
terizer) is built in to virtuallv all implementations
of PostScript Level :, and is standard in PostScript
,. Similarlv, Tvpe : rasterizing technologv is incor-
porated into Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Mac
OS X, side-bv-side with TrueTvpe and both favors
of OpenTvpe. Indeed, Apple’s new Iapanese svstem
fonts provided with the OS are in OpenTvpe form,
albeit with some Mac-specifc additions.
Technical Diferences
Te frst diference between TrueTvpe and PostScript
fonts is their use of diferent sorts of mathematics
to describe their curves. OpenTvpe fonts can have
either kind of outlines, with their respective advan-
tages and disadvantages.
Some articles have said that TrueTvpe fonts
require more points than PostScript, or that thev
take longer to rasterize because the math is more
complicated. In fact, the math is simpler (quadratics
are simpler than cubics). Although a few shapes take
fewer points in TrueTvpe than in PostScript (a per-
fect circle takes twelve points in PostScript vs. eight
in TrueTvpe), in practice the shapes in real-world
fonts all tend to take more points in TrueTvpe, it’s
true that most fonts will end up using more points
in TrueTvpe, even if the kind of mathematics used
to describe the curves is simpler.
Te primarv advantage of TrueTvpe over Tvpe :
fonts is the fact that TrueTvpe has the potential for
better hinting. Mind vou, PostScript Tvpe : hints
handle a lot: vertical and horizontal features, over-
shoots, stem snaps, equal counters, and shallow
curves (“fex”). Several of these can have a thresh-
old pixel size at which thev activate.
However, TrueTvpe hints can do all that PostScript
can, and almost anvthing else, as defned bv the verv
fexible instructions of the TrueTvpe language. Tis
includes controlling diagonals, and moving specifed
points on the glvph outlines at specifc arbitrarv sizes
to improve legibilitv. Tis abilitv to move points at
a specifc point size allows font production staf to
hand-tune the bitmap pattern produced bv the out-
line at anv specifed size. Or at least it used to; more
recent divergences in TrueTvpe rasterizing between
diferent plavers (including Apple and Microsof)
make this a little more uncertain.
Tis diference in hinting philosophv is reallv
svmptomatic of a larger philosophical diference.
· , ·
PostScript uses “dumber” fonts and a “smarter” inter-
preter, while TrueTvpe uses relativelv smarter fonts
and a dumber interpreter. Tis means that PostScript
hints tell the rasterizer what features ought to be
controlled, and the rasterizer interprets these using
its own “intelligence” to decide how to do it. Tere-
fore, when someone upgrades their PostScript inter-
preter, the rasterization can be improved.
Contrariwise, TrueTvpe puts all the hinting infor-
mation into the font to control exactlv how it will
appear when rasterized. Some TT afcionados prefer
to call TrueTvpe hints “instructions,” partlv in ref-
erence to the full-featured nature of the TrueTvpe
programming language, but also to clarifv the role
of this information. As Ielle Bosma of Agfa Mono-
tvpe savs, “I don’t hint at what I want to happen—I
tell the font what to do.”
Tus the TrueTvpe font producer has the poten-
tial for verv fne control over what happens when the
font is rasterized under diferent conditions. Howev-
er, it requires serious efort, expertise, and high-end
tools for a font developer to actuallv take advantage
of this greater hinting potential. Also, making major
changes to the TrueTvpe rasterizer while displaving
existing fonts at their best would seem to be dim-
cult to manage.
Until recentlv, the other advantage of TrueTvpe
was that it was the font format supported directlv
bv the Mac and Windows operating svstems, while
Tvpe : required an add-on. Tese operating svstems
will rasterize TrueTvpe fonts for the screen, and send
them to printers, whether as bitmaps or in some font
format the printer understands.
Scaling either PostScript fonts, or OpenTvpe fonts
with PostScript outlines, on Mac OS 8/9 and Win-
dows 95/98/ME, requires the Adobe Tvpe Manager
(ATM) sofware, which handles the rasterizing to the
screen, and rasterizes or converts the fonts for non-
PostScript printers. (Technicallv, Mac users don’t
require ATM to use PostScript fonts on PostScript
printers, but ATM is required to displav the font
accuratelv on screen at arbitrarv sizes.) ATM is freelv
available : the “Light” version is a free download from
Adobe’s Web site, and also comes with manv Adobe
However, in Windows :ooo and XP, and Mac OS
X, the PostScript Tvpe : and OpenTvpe CFF support
is built in, just like the TrueTvpe support has long
been. So this former advantage is rapidlv vanishing.
A smaller, but consistent, advantage of OpenTvpe
and TrueTvpe has to do with the phvsical storage of
the fonts. OpenTvpe and TrueTvpe fonts have all the
data in a single fle. PostScript Tvpe : fonts require
two separate fles: one contains the character out-
lines, and the other contains metrics data (charac-
ter widths and kern pairs). On the Macintosh, Mac
OS 8.: and earlier requires Tvpe 1 fonts to have not
onlv the outline font, but also a bit-mapped screen
font in at least one size, which contains the metrics
data. For Windows svstems using PostScript, a “PFB”
fle contains the outlines, while a “PFM” fle carries
the metrics.
Te svstem-independent “AFM” metrics fle can be
converted to a Windows PFM fle upon installation
bv ATM, or can be used bv a font editing program
along with the outline to create a screen font for the
Mac that includes anv kerning pairs in the original.
On the other hand, PostScript’s pair of fles are
ofen smaller than TrueTvpe’s single fle. Te size dif-
ference ranges from onlv a ,º savings for an average
font, to as much as a doubling of size for TrueTvpe
fonts that actuallv have extensive “hinting” instruc-
Also, most high-end output devices use PostScript
as their internal page description language. PostScript
fonts can be sent directlv to these devices. It used to
be the case that TrueTvpe fonts were either down-
loaded as bitmaps or required that the TrueTvpe
rasterizer be downloaded as a PostScript program,
which slowed printing a bit.
More recentlv, manv PostScript Level : printers,
(and all PostScript , printers) have the TrueTvpe
rasterizer in ROM, built in. However, with some
Windows printer drivers the user must change the
printer driver settings in sofware to take advantage
of this feature (downloading TrueTvpe as “Tvpe a:,”
which is basicallv a PostScript wrapper around the
TrueTvpe data).
· a ·
Further Practical Diferences
Manv of the theoretical advantages of TrueTvpe are
not actuallv realized in most commerciallv avail-
able TrueTvpe fonts. PostScript backers point to a
number of problems that still make PostScript fonts
a better solution for manv users. Besides the above-
mentioned issue of the language of the output device,
there are four other practical issues that even the
score for PostScript:
First, at present manv of the commerciallv avail-
able TrueTvpe fonts one sees at the sofware mega-
mart are of poor qualitv, coming in “zillion-fonts-
for-a-buck” collections. Manv of these fonts were
originallv shareware or public domain PostScript
fonts, and were converted to TrueTvpe using some
basic automatic utilitv. Te outlines and hinting are
no better than thev were in the PostScript versions,
and will sufer slightlv in almost anv automatic con-
version. Usuallv in the case of extremelv cheap col-
lections, thev weren’t the best qualitv¯ PostScript
fonts even before conversion to TrueTvpe.
Of course, TrueTvpe backers point out that ofen
these fonts were available before; it’s simplv the
availabilitv of a universal font scaling technologv
that makes discount fonts for the masses practical,
and of course thev are more likelv to be released in
the most widelv available format.
Second is the issue of easv-to-use tools. On the
plus side, there is fnallv a retail font editor with
native TrueTvpe support (FontLab 3), as well as
Microsof’s Visual TrueTvpe (VTT) hinting tool.
However, regardless of the specifc tools used, achiev-
ing frst-class hinting in TrueTvpe currentlv requires
intensive manual coding on a glvph-bv-glvph basis.
Tis requires substantial time and expertise on the
part of the person doing the hinting.
As a result, high-qualitv TrueTvpe fonts are cur-
rentlv onlv available from a handful of vendors, and
onlv a minoritv of even those fonts reallv exploit the
potential of TrueTvpe hinting.
Tird, TrueTvpe’s hinting advantage onlv matters
when hinting matters: when outputting to low-reso-
lution devices, or for screen displav. Te increasing,
widespread use of ooo dpi and better laser printers
makes this less critical for print work. On the other
hand, the increasing importance of screen displavs
for so manv purposes—including multimedia, the
Internet, and electronic books—makes hinting more
Fourth, PostScript has some advantages simplv
from being the longer-established standard, espe-
ciallv for serious graphic arts work. Service bureaus
are standardized on, and have large investments
in, PostScript fonts. Most of the fonts which have
“expert sets” of old stvle fgures, extra ligatures, true
small capitals and the like are in PostScript Tvpe :
Although most major vendors have TrueTvpe
fonts, not all ofer their entire libraries in both for-
mats. Agfa Monotve and Bitstream have their entire
libraries in both formats, while Adobe has but a
handful of TrueTvpe fonts. Given the current state
of the tools, although a simple conversion would be
easv, it would take a concerted efort of manv vears to
convert all the major vendors’ font libraries to True-
Tvpe if thev also wished to enhance the qualitv.
Another ofen-raised issue is the storv that some
PostScript devices, particularlv imagesetters, have
problems either with TrueTvpe fonts in general, or
especiallv with mixing TrueTvpe and PostScript on
the same page or the same line. Tis is mostlv an his-
torical issue. Recent implementations of TrueTvpe
in operating svstems, and newer Adobe PostScript
interpreters, have resolved what few problems there
were in the earlv oos.
According to Dov Isaacs, Adobe’s Manager of
Oualitv Assurance, Printing & Svstems Division in
the earlv to mid-oos, “regardless of whether vou are
on a Mac or a PC running Windows ,.: or above, vou
can mix TrueTvpe and Tvpe : with the caveat that
vou should never have both TrueTvpe and Tvpe :
fonts with the same exact names on the same svstem.”
Indeed, having anv two fonts with identical menu
names or PostScript font names can confuse the
operating svstem or vour applications, with unpre-
dictable results.
¯ What do I mean bv poor qualitv: Incomplete character sets, inconsis-
tent stem weights, improper outline construction, excess points, inad-
equate or improper hinting, inconsistent spacing, poor or nonexistent
kerning, and manv other factors.
· , ·
Also, if using Windows, one mav fnd that met-
ricallv-similar PostScript fonts get substituted for
the Windows TrueTvpe svstem fonts at output time:
Times New Roman® becomes Times® Roman, and
Arial® becomes Helvetica®. Getting the same font
on the actual output can be guaranteed bv chang-
ing printer settings in the printer control panel, to
ensure the TrueTvpe svstem fonts get used. Hackers
can also trv editing the WIN.INI fle on the computer
that is doing the printing (whether to device or fle).
Delete the relevant lines in the font substitution sec-
tion, so that the TrueTvpe font used on-screen is also
sent to the output device, rather than a printer font
being substituted. On Windows NT® or Win95, Reg-
istrv settings control the same behavior. Alternativelv,
get a scalable version of the font used in the printer,
and use it instead of the svstem fonts.
When dealing with fonts on the computer’s side,
one needs to be careful about deliberatelv substitut-
ing Arial for Helvetica and Times New Roman for
Times, or vice versa. Although the basic spacing of
the substituted fonts is identical, their kerning pairs
are not. Tis can cause text to refow if one switches
between two diferent-but-almost-the-same fonts on
the computer doing the tvpesetting, if the program
supports kerning pairs (graphics and DTP programs,
and some better word processors). In situations in
which exact line breaks are not critical, or applica-
tions in question do not use kerning, problems are
One actual, but rare, source of problems is not
inherent in TrueTvpe, but a result of the fact that
rasterizing TrueTvpe can require a bit more RAM
in the raster image processor (RIP) than rasteriz-
ing PostScript—primarilv in much older PostScript
Level : rasterizers when the TrueTvpe rasterizing
program must be downloaded. If the RIP has barelv
enough RAM, it’s possible that this could push it
over the edge.
A more common source of problems is that some
non-Adobe “PostScript-compatible” imagesetters do
not support TrueTvpe properlv.
Service bureaus and printers are notoriouslv con-
servative about these sorts of thing (understandablv,
since anv delavs or problems can cost them and their
clients monev); vour best bet is to consult with them,
and if thev warn of potential problems, test some-
thing complex with a mix of font formats for future
Converting TrueType & PostScript
Mathematicallv speaking the quadratic B-splines
of TrueTvpe are a subset of the cubic Bézier curves
of PostScript, so it’s possible to convert TrueTvpe
to Tvpe : without loss of accuracv. And if enough
points are used, one can convert in the other direc-
tion with minimal loss.
But this is onlv true if the same design space is
used. Most TrueTvpe fonts are designed on a :oa8-
unit grid, while PostScript Tvpe : fonts tvpicallv use
a :ooo-unit grid. Although neither of these measure-
ments is required, if the conversion does choose to
change the measurement basis (or “em-square” in
fontspeak), there will likelv be changes in the out-
lines due to rounding.
More importantlv, hinting information does not
directlv translate in either direction between the two
Within these limitations, a varietv of retail tools
(both font editing programs and dedicated conver-
sion utilities) can convert between PostScript Tvpe
: and TrueTvpe. For a casual user, the results are
likelv to be acceptable. As of this writing, there are
no shareware or freeware utilities that perform such
Multiple Masters
Te PostScript Tvpe : multiple master (MM) format
is an extension of the Adobe Tvpe : PostScript font
format. Essentiallv, it allows two design variations to
be encoded as opposing ends of a single design axis.
Aferwards, anv in-between state (an “instance” in
MM-speak) mav be generated bv the user on need.
Tus, an MM font could have a “weight” axis which
has an ultra-light master and an extra-black master,
allowing anv conceivable variation in between. And
this is onlv one possibilitv; almost anv two design
extremes could theoreticallv be put on a multiple
master, as long as their Bézier control points can be
matched up to allow interpolation.
Multiple axes are also possible, but (in all imple-
mentations, though not technicallv required bv the
· o ·
format) each additional axis doubles the number of
master fonts that must be created, because each pos-
sible extreme must be designed separatelv. Imagine
a dimensional space, with each corner requiring a
master. Tus a three-axis MM (a cube) must have
eight master fonts; a four-axis font (the practical
maximum) would need sixteen master fonts, which
is one reason nobodv has released one vet.
Te primarv uses to which MM technologv has
been put are: weight (light to bold); width (con-
densed to extended); and optical size (text to dis-
plav). A few MM fonts experiment with other forms,
such as the existence or tvpe of serifs. All of these
adjustments can be done bv cruder means, bv creat-
ing separate fonts, or even just ignored; but multiple
master fonts allow tvpographicallv aware users to
create the precise, desired tvpeface in a more refned
Multiple master fonts come with a varietv of pre-
defned font instances, which meet manv users’ needs,
and make it unnecessarv for some users to create
further instances.
Unfortunatelv, it can be inconvenient to get to MM
instances other than the predefned ones. Most of
the time, the user must use ATM to instantiate each
additional font variant in order to make it available
to the svstem. Tere are a few exceptions: Micro-
sof Word o and higher, and OuarkXPress ,.,x and
up, support direct creation of MM instances on the
fv bv tvping the exact name of the instance (easv,
but hardlv obvious). PageMaker o and better also
has integrated support for creating and using MM
instances, as does OuarkXPress ,.,x, via an included
extension. Onlv Adobe Illustrator® , and higher have
gone so far as to allow direct manipulation of MM
axis sliders “live” on text. Adobe InDesign® doesn’t
have this, but does automaticallv use the correct opti-
cal size instance
Tere are a few older devices with implemen-
tations of PostScript level : that can’t handle MM
fonts, notablv Apple’s Personal LaserWriter NT, the
HP LaserIet IIID, the PostScript cartridge for the HP
LaserIet IIP, and the TI microLaser PostScript series.
Additionallv, some older PostScript clones mav have
problems with multiple master fonts.
Because with most applications it is inconvenient,
and because manv users are unfamiliar with MM
technologv, it ofen makes more economic and mar-
keting sense to release a font set as multiple separate
fonts, even if it was designed using multiple master-
stvle interpolation. Examples of this trend include-
Ionathan Hoefer’s reworking of Didot, and most of
the frst OpenTvpe fonts released bv Adobe.
Fewer than ,o MM fonts have been released bv
major font vendors—and more than half bv Adobe.
Using multiple masters also requires that the user
have Adobe Tvpe Manager (even in Windows :ooo
and XP), but this is a near-necessitv for PostScript
fonts in manv environments, anvwav.
In October :ooo, Adobe announced that it was
ceasing development of new multiple master fonts,
citing the lack of application support, and Adobe’s
desire to concentrate its resources on OpenTvpe.
In :oo:, Adobe began to phase out sale of multi-
ple master fonts as equivalent OpenTvpe versions
became available. However, as of this writing, Adobe
continues to support multiple master fonts.
In discussing other extensions to TrueTvpe and
PostScript, it is helpful to frst discuss Unicode,
since several of them support Unicode. Unicode is
an international standard for representing a broad-
er character set using multi-bvte encoding for each
letter. Tis allows the encoding of thousands of char-
acters instead of :,o: essentiallv all the characters for
everv language in the world, each with a unique ID.
However, the Unicode specifcation onlv covers
diferences that have a linguistic impact, such as
accented characters. It does not deal with tvpo-
graphic niceties such as unusual ligatures, old stvle
numbers, or small caps. To paraphrase Chuck Big-
elow, it mav seem like a metaphvsical distinction, but
Unicode is a character encoding, rather than a glvph
encoding. Te result is that simplv adding Unicode
capabilitv is verv useful for non-English or multi-lin-
gual tvpographv. However, it does not, in and of itself,
aid in dealing with the tvpographic issues addressed
bv, sav, GX/AAT or OpenTvpe (discussed below).
Tere are alternatives to Unicode, such as Apple’s
initial GX solution of multiple single-bvte encod-
· , ·
ings per font, and Adobe’s CID technologv. Howev-
er, most such alternatives are stopgaps; both Apple
and Adobe have added Unicode support to their
technologies (Apple Advanced Tvpographv replac-
ing GX, and OpenTvpe with CID replacing Tvpe :
with CID).
Unicode character encoding is directlv support-
ed bv Windows NT, :ooo and XP. Te Mac OS had
the beginnings of Unicode support as far back as
OS 8.,, and signifcant support in Mac OS X, but at
this time few signifcant Mac applications relv on the
OS-level support. (Adobe’s InDesign and Photoshop
make use of Unicode, but independentlv of the OS.)
Additionallv, OpenTvpe (see below) is directlv based
on Unicode, and thus operating svstems and applica-
tions that support OpenTvpe mav support Unicode
in the process.
National Language Support & 
Windows o,/o8 and ME do not fullv support Uni-
code, but have a less universal approach called
National Language Support. NLS is accessible in for-
eign-language versions of Windows ox, or if a user
installs Multi-Language Support. One can then make
use of TrueTvpe fonts with more than the usual :,o
glvphs of Windows (or Macintosh) extended .scii.
For convenience, and to help preserve compatibilitv
with older programs, the user’s selected language set-
ting determines which two-hundred-odd glvphs are
accessible from the kevboard (the correct ones for
the chosen language, assuming thev’re in the font).
Te Windows Glvph List 4 (WGL4) character set
is a specifc NLS set of some o,: characters, which
include all the characters for everv European lan-
guage. Tis means all the usual regular and accented
Latin characters, more accented Latin characters for
central Europe and the Baltic countries, plus Greek,
Cvrillic, Turkish, a host of accented characters, and
IBM Linedraw thrown in for good measure. Te
basic Windows svstem fonts (Arial, Courier, Times
New Roman) have all been upgraded to WGL-4 (or
more). Onlv a few other TrueTvpe fonts have this
character set, such as Microsof’s Verdana, Georgia,
Tahoma, Trebuchet, and the Microsof version of
Franklin Gothic.
Tis :ooo Adobe/Microsof initiative surprised
industrv analvsts. OpenTvpe puts either PostScript
or TrueTvpe outlines in a font, with tables including
the current TrueTvpe tables and additional tables
for advanced tvpographic features. Non-technical
people might think of it as a common “wrapper”
based on the existing TrueTvpe structure. Applica-
tions—and most operating svstem functions outside
of font rasterizing—will no longer care which tvpe of
font is in this “wrapper.” In some senses, the Open-
Tvpe approach to putting TrueTvpe and PostScript in
a common wrapper is verv much like how PostScript
Tvpe : is supported in a GX/AAT environment.
As part of the deal, Microsof and Adobe licensed
the TrueTvpe and PostScript font technologies to
each other, and pledged an end to the “font wars”—
the longstanding debate over which format was
Te representation of Tvpe : font sofware in an
OpenTvpe font uses Adobe’s Compact Font Format
(CFF) with Tvpe : charstrings. Tis is a dramati-
callv more compact representation of the same
information as Tvpe :. Indeed, Adobe savs a Tvpe
: font converted directlv to OpenTvpe CFF, without
added glvphs and features, is a,º smaller on aver-
age. (Adobe had started work on CFF in late :oo,,
initiallv for use in PostScript , printer ROMs, but it
has found much wider use in Adobe Acrobat and in
OpenTvpe fonts.)
Te OpenTvpe format supports features equiva-
lent to most of the advanced features of existing
TrueTvpe and PostScript formats, such as Adobe’s
CID technologv for Asian fonts, and extended mul-
tilingual character sets. However, multiple master
fonts are not part of the OpenTvpe specifcation.
OpenTvpe fonts allow extended character sets
bevond the usual :,o allowed bv standard PostScript
Tvpe : fonts. Tese can be alternate letterforms, or
those characters formerlv included in “expert sets,”
additional languages, or whatever the designer
Te kev additional tvpographic lavout features
in OpenTvpe are supported bv means of addition-
al “tables” of information in the fonts, which specifv
how the glvphs are modifed bv application of fea-
· 8 ·
tures. For example, real (specifcallv designed instead
of simplv scaled) small caps can be built into the font,
and feature tables could defne the relationship of
these small caps to both regular caps and lowercase
letters. Similarlv, feature tables can defne such things
as ligatures, swash characters, alternates, etc.
Tese tables are the basis of automatic glvph sub-
stitution. Substitution need not be one for one; one
glvph can be substituted for several (such as the f-f-
i ligature, or manv Arabic characters), or multiple
glvphs can be substituted for a single one. Glvph sub-
stitution can be context sensitive, and/or activated bv
explicit user activitv.
Tere are several advantages of this over the cur-
rentlv available “expert sets” and “alternates.” First,
the user’s font menu isn’t cluttered with supple-
mental fonts. Second, there can be kerning between
glvphs that might otherwise have been in separate
fonts. Finallv, with an appropriatelv savvv applica-
tion, the user can turn on ligatures, small caps, or old-
stvle fgures, much like bold or italic stvling, without
switching fonts.
Although Sevbold analvsts initiallv reported on
OpenTvpe as a victorv for Microsof and TrueTvpe
(bv them getting legitimacv in publishing), that’s
a prettv narrow view. In the broad view, everv-
bodv wins. Microsof mav indeed fnallv get great-
er TrueTvpe acceptance in the high-end publishing
market. Adobe gets PostScript font outline support
at the svstem level in Windows, potentiallv making
the Adobe tvpe librarv more accessible to a broader
range of potential buvers. But best of all, end users
win bv getting a single standard for advanced fea-
tures and cross-platform fonts, eliminating one of
the largest remaining hassles for document transfer
between Macintosh and Windows computers.
Although Apple ships Iapanese svstem fonts for
Mac OS X in OpenTvpe format (with PostScript
outlines, and some added AAT tables), OS X does
not have native support for anv OpenTvpe features
bevond imaging the fonts, and (new in :o.:) kern-
ing for basic western characters. Meanwhile, Adobe
shipped its last new Tvpe : font in :ooo, and has
converted almost the entire Adobe Tvpe Librarv
to OpenTvpe (over :ooo OpenTvpe fonts). Other
foundries have been slower to move to OpenTvpe,
but several are shipping OpenTvpe fonts (includ-
ing Emigre and House Industries), while the larg-
est foundries (Agfa Monotvpe and Linotvpe) have
made public statements about their support for
Among publishing applications, so far Adobe
InDesign® and Photoshop® o and , support Open-
Tvpe lavout features. InDesign :.o/:., and Photoshop
o onlv support a small (but important) subset, while
InDesign :.o supports a wide range of lavout fea-
Initial Microsof feature support across the Micro-
sof Omce applications has been solelv for those fea-
tures which are necessarv for language support, such
as contextual substitutions for Arabic—and onlv in
the languages which require them (although Word
2000 will do contextual substitutions for Arabic, it
won’t do them for English).
GX & AAT Fonts
Another attempt to enhance these tvpographic nice-
ties has been Apple’s GX/AAT fonts. Tis font tech-
nologv, born in :oo:, was frst part of the Ouick-
Draw GX printing/graphics technologv, which was
later abandoned bv Apple. However, the font part of
GX has renewed life as “Apple Advanced Tvpographv”
or AAT in :oo8. AAT is in turn an element of “Apple
Tvpe Services for Unicode Imaging” or .1sUi. Both
AAT and .1sUi, at least in basic form, are part of Mac
OS 8., and higher, including Mac OS X.
How do AAT fonts work: AAT supports TrueTvpe
fonts, and other outline formats that use the True-
Tvpe table structure. Like OpenTvpe, AAT fonts also
allow extended character sets bevond the usual :,o
allowed bv standard PostScript Tvpe : fonts. Tev
are referenced bv tables, like OpenTvpe approach,
although the AAT tables function a little diferentlv,
being “state tables” rather than simple lookups.
Te GX/AAT Line Lavout Manager is a bit of
svstem sofware that interprets and manages all this
additional information encoded in the font’s tables
to do useful things, such as accessing the small caps
mentioned above, automatic intelligent ligature sub-
stitution, or opticallv aligning the edges of text based
on the actual shapes of the letterforms rather than
the outside of the character bounding box.
· o ·
TrueTvpe GX/AAT fonts can also be designed as
“variation fonts,” similar to multiple master fonts with
design axes. However, TrueTvpe AAT also has greater
fexibilitv in the use of these axes.
Unfortunatelv, the GX/AAT font specifcation has
not met with wide acceptance as of this writing. One
reason is that it is onlv available for the Macintosh,
and most major lavout sofware is activelv seeking
cross-platform compatibilitv; therefore the vendors
are loathe to adopt a “standard” that doesn’t have a
counterpart for Windows (or anv other svstems thev
mav support).
Further, GX/AAT is a model which has histori-
callv tried to take over line lavout, an area in which
high-end lavout applications have put consider-
able efort into adding features and value for the
end user. Te makers of such applications would be
understandablv reluctant to abandon their previous
hvphenation and justifcation capabilities (for exam-
ple) in favor of AAT capabilities which are delivered
“free” to the lowliest word processor which chooses
to support AAT.
Tis barrier mav be going awav, however. Apple
savs it is moving towards making AAT functions
accessible to applications without requiring them to
give up all line lavout.
Another barrier was removed bv Apple back in
:o88, in separating out the GX imaging/graphics
model. Users can now use AAT-savvv applications
without installing svstem sofware which is incom-
patible with other major graphics applications.
However, none of the biggest sofware vendors
have released anv applications which are AAT-savvv.
Tere have been about a dozen programs that ofered
some degree of support for AAT in its former GX
guise, including two page lavout programs, Uniqorn
and Readv-Set-Go , GX, and LightningDraw, a draw-
ing package. Tese applications would need rewrit-
ing to work in current Mac OS versions (with AAT
but without GX). Te most prominent GX applica-
tion was Multi-Ad Creator :, but the most recent ver-
sions are no longer based on GX.
Font foundries support for GX/AAT has been
similarlv irregular. Some tvpe foundries that origi-
nallv released or planned to release GX fonts either
withdrew them from circulation, or failed to release
the announced fonts.
In Apple’s current operating svstem strategv, GX
proper is dead, but GX tvpographv as AAT is still
being pushed. Apple’s support of Unicode in AAT
and integration of AAT into the Mac OS mav have
the efect of increasing its support.
What Does the Future Hold?
One thing that drives acceptance of some Unicode-
based solution, is the needs of international markets.
As mentioned earlier, Unicode is a broader and more
complete basis than anv other for multi-lingual com-
puting. Tis is important to both operating svstem
companies such as Apple and Microsof, and to ven-
dors (such as Adobe) of printing svstems, applica-
tions and fonts for international markets.
Windows :ooo, Windows XP and Mac OS X have
built-in support for all three font formats. Adobe
has shipped over :ooo OpenTvpe fonts so far, and
two of Adobe’s fagship applications, InDesign and
Photoshop, both support some OpenTvpe lavout fea-
tures and use Unicode under the hood.
OpenTvpe mav be a savior in the font wars, thanks
to its combination of features, cross-platform func-
tionalitv, and the companies backing it—but applica-
tions must be updated to take advantage of its more
whizzv features. Although existing font libraries can
easilv be converted without added features, it is onlv
bv the merging of supplemental fonts and the labori-
ous addition of new features, as Adobe has done, that
the greatest value can be added to a converted librarv.
Although there are manv OpenTvpe fonts now avail-
able, there will still be occasions when users have to
choose between PostScript and TrueTvpe.
As we have seen, there are defnitelv situations in
which one format or another mav be desirable, such
as when particular expert sets are needed (more
commonlv available in PostScript fonts, or integrat-
ed in OpenTvpe), when TrueTvpe doesn’t work on a
particular older imagesetter, when maximum legibil-
itv is needed for screen displav (the best TrueTvpe
and TrueTvpe-favored OpenTvpe fonts), when easv
access to advanced tvpographic features is needed
(from full-featured OpenTvpe fonts), or cross-plat-
form font fles are needed (OpenTvpe again).
· :o ·
Tv.uvm.vx No1icvs: Adobe, ATM, Adobe Type Managei, Illusiiaioi, InDesign, PageMakei, PosiSciipi and Phoioshop aie eiihei iegisieied iiademaiks
oi iiademaiks of Adobe Sysiems Incoipoiaied in ihe Uniied Siaies and/oi oihei couniiies. Miciosof, OpenType, Windows and Windows NT aie eiihei
iegisieied iiademaiks oi iiademaiks of Miciosof Coipoiaiion in ihe Uniied Siaies and/oi oihei couniiies. Apple, LaseiWiiiei, Maciniosh, Mac and
TiueType aie iiademaiks of Apple Compuiei, Inc., iegisieied in ihe Uniied Siaies and oihei couniiies. Aiial and Times New Roman aie iiademaiks of
Te Monoiype Coipoiaiion iegisieied in ihe U.S. Paieni and Tiademaik Omce and may be iegisieied in ceiiain oihei juiisdiciions. Times and Helveiica
aie iegisieied iiademaiks of Heidelbeigei Diuckmaschinen AG. All oihei iiademaiks aie ihe piopeiiy of iheii iespeciive owneis.
Despite these distinctions, the relative advantages
of each format are ofen exaggerated bv their boost-
ers. OpenTvpe has new capabilities; but most of these
are not vet widelv supported in applications. In prac-
tice, most users can usuallv use anv of the three for-
mats, and mix them, without worrving a great deal
about the diferences—and said diferences, except
for enhanced OpenTvpe features, are usuallv trans-
parent to the end user.