Fonts. We see them everywhere, read them on every platform, fonts are on every site, every device, and every printed piece of text. Fonts are complex, have large amounts of symbols and designs along with the letters themselves, that need to be separately created if there’s different kinds, like bold, italics, or underline, it all has to be made that way.

There are four different types of fonts, all created and edited by different companies, or it’s open source, these fonts are separated by file format and such. This article won’t just cover these types of fonts, but also the industry and the rules and regulations of fonts. Most of these (hopefully, we’re not in the caveman era of computers anymore) are outline fonts, aka vectors. So they can be edited and resized with no loss.

Open Type Font – A New Standard

Open Type font is pretty new, and is setting a new standard. By being created by both Microsoft and Adobe, you can tell it’s the real deal. It’s a cross-platform font file format that utilizes huge character sets, including more symbols, glyphs, and letter shapes than every previous font type. Open type is compatible with both Microsoft (PC) and Apple operating systems, which makes it powerful and versatile.

It also has better language support than its predecessors due to it being able to have more symbols, glyphs, and use multiple letter shapes at the same time. Programs like Photoshop 6.0 and Indesign were the first programs to use the Open Type font, and it has been getting better and more updated over time. Soon, Open Type will be on more programs, but it’s certainly setting standards.

Post Script Fonts and Post Script Type 1 and 3

Post Script and Post Script Type 1 are both developed by Adobe for professional typesetting. It is less common due to how expensive it is and was. Released in 1984, it translates documents into print, it is for printing and imaging, and is the worlds standard for those sort of things. Post Script originally was to communicate complex graphic printing instructions to digital printers. Now, it’s built into most laser printers rendering not only raster graphics, but vector graphics! It revolutionized Desktop Publishing due to its usability and the fact that it’s changed since it was released.

Type 1 on the other hand is a worldwide standard for digital fonts everywhere. It was made for Post Script printers, too. Type 1 despite being developed and run by Adobe, many companies in the whole wide world have created fonts using the Type 1 structure, and there are over 3,000 different fonts made by these non-Adobe companies. It is versatile, and well-known.

The huge downside to these, is that Type 1 fonts were restricted to a very specific Post Script language by Adobe and Adobe’s hinting system, which used to be very very expensive. Type 3 was less expensive at the time, but had no hinting system causing what was produced to tend to get low-quality and messed up via changing size per device.

True Type Fonts – Cheaper, Better, More Common

True type is a font script developed by Apple and Microsoft to combat Post Script’s high prices. It was intended to have completely replaced Post Script fonts. It is now the most common font per every device, Microsoft’s OSes and Apple OSes both run True Type font.

True Type fonts can be precisely changed and edited by their users, unlike the other four type algorithms listed above. It could be edited right down to the pixels, and was well liked because of this precision given. It quickly over took the market (and Adobe was actually angry, and their CEO talked out against them, calling the product bad.)

Eventually, Microsoft went to try and get the rights to it, and allowance to edit and mess with it, and Apple gave them the rights to it for free, to ensure its adoption everywhere. These fonts quickly took over Adobe’s fonts, and are still commonly used this day for most computers and devices due to its original prices and other things.

Rules of Fonts

Fonts have rules and regulations in modern industry. Fonts require font licenses to use in specific ways (that will be outlined in said license.) Every font comes with a license in some way, shape, or form, which is even true for the ones that are free and online. A font license can be bought (or given free of course), you have to pay for fonts because it’s essentially a strange mix of art and computer software. Desktop fonts versus web fonts both have kinds of licenses, and I will attempt to cover them. As a designer, it is wise to check all fonts for their licenses and see what you can use these for.

Desktop and Print License – A basic, standard font license that applies to fonts you can install on your computer and print. This includes static images, things for printing, and also things such as mugs, shirts, and printed things of that nature.

Web Fonts License – Web fonts are exactly what they say they are, you use these for online things, and they are for browsers and reading on devices. This is also called “dynamic fonts” because both the users see the same thing regardless of different fonts or sizes.

Open Source License – Open source is when anyone can use them, essentially free to share, free to use, and free to obtain. However, open source cannot be sold by different parties than the original one, because then its not open source any longer. This license is different because it allows everyone to edit and use them without worrying about legal things.

Commercial License – This is for fonts that you will use commercially, and these fonts must be commercial and paid for because money. As a designer for a company, you need to make sure they have these licenses, and if you are designing for clients, you absolutely need to make sure both you and the client have the font license.

Now, go use your new font knowledge and do great things…

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash