Variety of Modern Font Formats

The computer world nowadays abounds in a great number of fonts in various font formats from different vendors. The most popular font formats today are:

  • Type 1 is the font format for single-byte fonts designed for use in PostScript environments. Type 1 fonts use a special subset of the PostScript language optimized for better performance and a more compact representation. The Type 1 operator set includes hint information which helps font rasterizers create more accurate bitmaps for smaller sizes and lower resolutions.
  • Type 2, or Compact Font Format (CFF) is a font format that offers a compact representation of the character description procedures of Type 1 or CID-based fonts. CFF fonts contain just the same information as the corresponding Type 1 or CID-based fonts but achieve significant space reduction due to binary storing format. The CFF/Type 2 format is the basis for Type 1 OpenType fonts, and is commonly used for embedding fonts in Adobe PDF files.
  • TrueType is a digital font technology designed by Apple Computer, and now used by both Apple and Microsoft in their operating systems. Microsoft has distributed thousands of quality TrueType fonts in hundreds of different styles. These TrueType fonts are included into all Microsoft products and the popular TrueType Font Packs.
  • OpenType font format, jointly developed by Microsoft and Adobe, offers a new generation of typographic features and benefits for users, type designers, and application developers. OpenType users enjoy easy access to advanced typographic features and extended character sets.
  • Type 42 fonts consist of a PostScript language "wrapper" around a TrueType font. A Type 42 font is usually generated by a printer driver for downloading TrueType fonts to a PostScript printer.
  • CIDFont of Type 2 is the same as TrueType font but with no encoding information.
  • The Multiple Master and CID-based font formats are extensions to the Type 1 format. Characters are still expressed using standard Type 1 operators, but the file organization is different.

The corresponding information and specification of these font types can be found in the following sources:

1. Adobe Type 1 Font Format:
http://partners.adobe.com/asn/developer/pdfs/tn/T1_SPEC.PDF
2. The Compact Font Format Specification:
http://partners.adobe.com/asn/developer/pdfs/tn/5176.CFF.pdf
3. The TrueType Font Format Specification:
http://developer.apple.com/fonts/TTRefMan/RM06/Chap6.html
4. TrueType Fundamentals:
http://www.microsoft.com/typography/OTSPEC/TTCH01.htm
5. OpenType Specification:
http://www.microsoft.com/typography/OTSPEC/default.htm
6. The Type 42 Font Format Specification:
http://partners.adobe.com/asn/developer/pdfs/tn/5012.Type42_Spec.pdf
7. Type Technology: Multiple Master Fonts:
http://partners.adobe.com/asn/tech/type/mmfonts.jsp
8. Type Technology: CID-Keyed Fonts:
http://partners.adobe.com/asn/tech/type/cidfonts.jsp