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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Installing New Fonts, Continued: What's the Difference Between TrueType, PostScript and OpenType Fonts?

TrueType (TT), PostScript (PS) and OpenType (OTF) use different patented mathematical methods of creating font shapes. It's all highly technical, and, thankfully, nothing you or I really need to know!

PS is the oldest of the three, but there have been several upgrades so it works just as well as TT or OTF.

You can use TT, PS and OTF fonts together in the same document.

Of course, if you ever plan to send something to a commercial printer (or a print shop like FexEx Kinko's or Minuteman Press), it's always good to ask them what they suggest you use. Different commercial printers and print shops have different preferences.

Installing PS fonts on a Windows PC used to be more complicated than installing TT fonts (Windows 95, 98, ME and NT), but this is not the case with more recent versions of Windows (2000, XP and Vista).

OpenType fonts are a significant improvement over TT and PS for two reasons:

1. They work on both Macintosh and Windows machines, whereas you need to buy a Mac version of a TT or PS font for your Mac, and a Windows version of a TT or PS font for your Windows PC.

2. OpenType fonts often come with expanded character sets that include things like small caps, special or alternate characters, and such.

In general, the instructions in this post: How to Install New Fonts on a Windows Computer should be sufficient to install new fonts on a Windows PC. If you would like more information about font types and installation, see Fonts: Which Format Should I Order? and related pages on


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