Wednesday, December 23, 2009

OTF vs TTF vs PS...

Font Tip: Choosing the right font format
By Brian Tippetts

“Which font format should I use--TrueType, Postscript, or OpenType?” This is a question I get asked frequently and because we offer both TrueType and OpenType formats at ScrapNfonts, I thought this would be a good question to answer.

The quick answer is they all will work, but as technology continues to make improvements and updates, we should move to the newer options. Currently, on my Mac, I have all three different font formats running successfully at the same time.

Here is a font format primer to help you understand what you currently have in your font collection and what you are getting the next time you purchase a font.

Postscript (PS)
The PostScript font format was developed by Adobe (same company that produces Photoshop and Photoshop Elements) in the mid-80s and was based on Adobe’s PostScript printing technology. It was a high-end technology that was mainly used by designers and printers to create high-resolution output. The Postscript fonts consisted of two parts, the screen and printer font.

TrueType (TTF)
The TrueType format was jointly developed by Apple and Microsoft in the late 80s, several years after the release of the PostScript font format. The TrueType fonts contain both the screen and printer font data in a single font file, making the fonts easier to install. The TrueType format also included some new technologies, including “hinting,” a process that improves on-screen legibility.

OpenType (OTF)
The OpenType format, a joint effort from Adobe and Microsoft, is the latest font format to be introduced. OpenType, is also known as TrueType Open version 2, is an extension of Microsoft's TrueType Open format. Like TrueType, it still contains both the screen and printer font data in a single font file. The biggest advantage that OpenType has over TrueType format is that the font files can contain up to 65,000 characters per font. TrueType and Postscript font formats only contained less that 256 characters.

So, what does all this techno-jumbo mean?

Well, many font creators, like ScrapNfonts, are beginning to convert older TrueType fonts to current OpenType formats and also creating new fonts in OpenType format. Does this mean you are getting new characters in the sets? Probably not in converted fonts, but in new fonts, the possibilities are endless--ligatures, swashes, dingbats, initial caps, and old-style numerals all within a single font file. Of course, you will need an application that fully supports these fonts, like any Adobe product. Unfortunately, Microsoft (even though they helped co-create this format) still doesn’t fully support all the type features of OpenType in its Word program.

If you are asked to decide which format to download, TrueType or OpenType, you should choose OpenType. It is the latest format and is backwards compatible so it will work just like a TrueType font.

I hope this has been helpful for you and again if have questions that you would like for me to answer relating to fonts, please send them to and I may answer it in an upcoming post.

Bonus Tip:

I know many of you also need some help with font installation. However, because there are so many variables in computers and different operating systems, I thought that I would offer a link to some quick font installation help.

Go to


Cari D. Cruse said...

Thank you for sharing this great information - very clear and succinct explanations! Definitely helpful in making the differences clearer.

Anonymous said...

Great info!. One consideration: Cricut using SCAL (Sure Cuts a Lot), currently only recognizes .ttf files I am fairly certain. Worth double checking. If I know you want to cut the font, or draw it with markers to be cut out with shadow, I need the .ttf files. I enjoy single line drawings (even basic shapes) on ScrapNFont for this reason (draw with marker and cut).

Mollie said...

I have the same concerns as '5purposedriven'. I own a Silhouette that only recognizes .ttf files.