Chances are that your font collection includes fonts in PostScript, TrueType, OpenType and dfont file formats. But you probably don’t need to manage every file format for each of your fonts. Whatever you choose to do, FontAgent will manage the format(s) you choose to import.

The Evolution of Font File Formats

Font file standards have evolved over the years. PostScript fonts starting phasing out more than fifteen years ago. TrueType fonts are actively supported by Microsoft, Apple and Unix operating systems. OpenType fonts are the newest file format, are portable across Mac and Windows, and in most cases contain TrueType font outlines anyway.

Chances are that your font collection includes fonts in PostScript, TrueType, OpenType and dfont file formats. But you probably don’t need to manage every file format for each of your fonts. Whatever you choose to do, FontAgent will manage the format(s) you choose to import.

The Evolution of Font File Formats

Font file standards have evolved over the years. PostScript fonts starting phasing out more than fifteen years ago. TrueType fonts are actively supported by Microsoft, Apple and Unix operating systems. OpenType fonts are the newest file format, are portable across Mac and Windows, and in most cases contain TrueType font outlines anyway.

PostScript Type 1 Fonts

PostScript Type 1 fonts were introduced by Adobe in 1984, but stopped developing them in 1999. A few years later, Adobe stopped selling Type 1 fonts altogether. Type 1 fonts are comprised of an outline font used on printing devices, and a series of bitmap fonts used for on-screen display. To make the unwieldy Type 1 fonts more manageable, they often include a suitcase folder that contains multiple bitmap sizes. The Mac requires you to keep a font’s outline and bitmap files in the same folder. Over the years, Mac apps have slowly been abandoning support for Type 1 font files.

Despite being a time-tested technology, Type 1 fonts have a number of important shortcomings. They do not support more than 256 glyphs in a single font, nor Unicode encoding. They don’t work in a portable manner across Mac, Windows and Unix platforms. And they do not have advanced typography extensions to support worldwide languages.

dfont Fonts

The dfont format is an old font format used by Apple for macOS system fonts. These fonts are similar to Mac TrueType, but store their information in the data fork instead of the resource fork of the file system. Avoid using dfonts in your projects and look for OpenType or TrueType alternatives.

TrueType Fonts

After its introduction by Apple and Microsoft in 1991, TrueType rapidly became a popular cross-platform font format because it stores all information for a font in a single file. There was some initial resistance to TrueType adoption due to the use of old imaging devices that depended on PostScript Type 1 fonts. TrueType use grew rapidly when Apple licensed it to Microsoft for use in Windows. Apple then included OS support for Windows TrueType, giving Mac users instant access to large libraries of inexpensive Windows ttf-format fonts. One of the advantages of TrueType format fonts has been the ability of Microsoft Office applications to embed them in documents and presentations. Since the introduction of OpenType in 2000, TrueType has been steadily losing ground to the more modern OpenType format in sales and popularity. But today, TrueType fonts still represent an overwhelming percentage of fonts in use worldwide.

TrueType Collections

TrueType Collections are .ttc files that contain more than font. The collections usually contain multiple styles in a font family and have been distributed as part of Windows operating system releases. Windows and Mac computers both recognize modern TrueType Collections.

OpenType Fonts

Introduced in 2000, the OpenType font format was jointly developed by Microsoft and Adobe. It can be used on Mac and Windows systems, providing a great deal of flexibility for enterprises, designers, service bureaus and printers. In addition, OpenType is not a font outline format, but a standard for encapsulating font-file components into a unified, portable file format–so most OpenType files contain TrueType or PostScript outlines for printing. OpenType is the most modern font-file format for desktops. It can support more than 65,000 character glyphs in one file, so it can support extended character sets, dingbats, ligatures, ordinals, old-style, symbols and worldwide languages.

Font Rules to Follow

  • Check the integrity of the font files you keep by importing them into FontAgent.
  • Be sure you import all styles of a font (regular, italic, bold, etc.)
  • Import OpenType format files. If you don’t have OpenType, import TrueType. If you only have PostScript versions, import them.
  • Don’t discard old font files; just put them in an archive folder in case someone sends you a document that requires them.