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2. Fonts 101 -- A Quick Introduction to Fonts

2.1. Types of Fonts

2.1.6. Type 1 vs TrueType -- a comparison

Despite the historical feuding between the proponents to Type 1 and TrueType fonts, both have a lot in common. Both are scalable outline fonts. Type 1 fonts use cubic as opposed to quadratic curves for the glyphs. This is in theory at least a slight advantage since they include all the curves available to TrueType fonts. In practice, it makes very little difference.

TrueType fonts have the apparent advantage that their support for hinting is better ( Type 1 fonts do have hinting functionality, but it is not as extensive as that of TrueType fonts ). However, this is only an issue on low resolution devices, such as screens ( the improved hinting makes no discernable difference on a 600dpi printer, even at small point sizes. ) The other point that makes this apparent advantage somewhat questionable is the fact that well hinted TrueType fonts are rare. This is because software packages that support hinting functionality are out of the budget of most small time designers. Only a few major foundries, such as Monotype make well hinted fonts available.

In conclusion, the main differences between TrueType and Type 1 fonts are in availability and application support. The widespread availability of TrueType fonts for Windows has resulted in webpages designed with the assumption that certain TrueType fonts are available. Also, many users have large numbers of TrueType fonts because they ship with the users Windows applications. However, on Linux, most applications support Type 1 fonts but do not have the same level of support for TrueType. Moreover, most major font foundries still ship most of their fonts in Type 1 format. For example, Adobe ships very few TrueType fonts. My recommendation to users is to use whatever works for your application, and try to avoid converting from one format to another where possible ( because the format conversion is not without loss ).

2.2. Families of Typefaces

Typically, typefaces come in groups of a few variants. For example, most fonts come with a bold, italic, and bold-italic variant. Some fonts may also have small caps, and demibold variants. A group of fonts consisting of a font and its variants is called a family of typefaces. For example, the Garamond family consists of Garamond, Garamond-italic, Garamond-bold, Garamond bold-italic, Garamond demi-bold, and Garamond demi-bold-italic. The Adobe expert Garamond font also makes available Garamond small caps, and Garamond titling capitals.




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