Informations about digital font formats

Font Format digital Type 1 PostScript TrueType OpenType Ikarus

Informations about digital font formats

Here you will find detailed information about the most important several digital font formats lie TrueType, Type 1, TrueType, OpenType and Ikarus

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Font handling

Almost as complex as PostScript itself was PS's handling of fonts. The rich font system used the PS graphics primitives to draw characters as line art, which could then be rendered at any resolution. This might sound like a reasonably straightforward concept, but there are a number of typographic issues that had to be considered.

One is that fonts do not actually scale linearly at small sizes; features of the characters will become proportionally too large or small and they start to "look wrong." PostScript avoided this problem with the inclusion of hints which could be saved along with the font outlines. Basically they are additional information in horizontal or vertical bands that help identify the features in each letter that are important for the rasterizer to maintain. The result was significantly better-looking fonts even at low resolution; it was formerly believed that hand-tuned bitmap fonts were required for this task.

At the time the technology for including these hints in fonts was carefully guarded, and the hinted fonts were compressed and encrypted into what Adobe called a Type 1 Font. Type 1 was effectively a simplification of the PS system to store outline information only, as opposed to being a complete language (PDF is similar in this regard). Adobe would then sell licenses to the Type 1 technology at a very high cost to those wanting to add hints to their own fonts. Those who were happy without hints, or didn't want to spend the money, were left with the so-called Type 3 Font. Type 3 fonts allowed for all the sophistication of the PostScript language, but without the standardized approach to hinting. Other differences further added to the confusion.

The cost of the licensing was considered by many to be too high, and Adobe continued to stonewall on more attractive rates. It was this issue that led Apple to design their own system, TrueType, around 1991. Immediately following the announcement of TrueType, Adobe published the specification for Type 1 fonts. Retail tools such as Altsys Fontographer (now owned by Macromedia) added the ability to create Type 1 fonts. Since then, many free Type 1 fonts have been released; for instance, the fonts used with the TeX typesetting system are available in this format.

In the early 1990s there were several other systems for storing outline-based fonts, developed by Bitstream and Metafont for instance, but none included a general-purpose printing solution and they were therefore not widely used as a result.


This information is based on the article Type_1_font from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. On Wikipedia is a list of authors available.