With all the new OpenType formats it gets a little difficult sometimes to see the wood for the trees. Inevitably every system has its downsides. If you offer few choices font users may feel their options are restricted. But when proposing numerous alternatives to meet the users’ wishes, ironically said users may feel overwhelmed and not know very well what the best option is. So I thought it’d be useful to do a round-up of the different OpenType formats available for FontFonts. I will use FF DIN as an example, as it is one of the families with the most options.
But let’s first take a look at the “old” font formats.
Mac Postscript / PC PostScript / PC TrueType
FontFont has stopped producing PostScript fonts two years ago, and FontFont Release 49 was the last one to include TrueType versions of the fonts. These legacy formats are slowly being phased out. This means that fonts may still be available in PostScript format if they’re more than two years old, and as TrueType if they date from before FontFont Release 50 (when the new Offc fonts were introduced). But as soon as they are converted to one of the newer formats outlined below, the legacy formats disappear. For example, when the FontFont Type Department converted FF Quadraat to Offc format, all old TrueType fonts as well as the PostScript versions were deleted. The same has since happened with FF Scala, above.
Now for the new formats, using FF DIN as an example.
One of the main advantages of OpenType is that it is a truly cross-platform format. OpenType fonts are Mac- and PC-compatible; you can use the same fonts on computers running Mac and Windows operating systems without needing to convert them, or running the risk of text reflow. Wherever you use the OpenType version, it is the same font, with the same character set, the same spacing and kerning, the same line breaks. When you use truly OpenType savvy applications like Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign CS, Illustrator CS, Photoshop CS, …) or Quark XPress (starting from version 7) use OpenType (PostScript-flavored) fonts.
Important: Non-OpenType savvy applications like Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. cannot access advanced OpenType features like small caps and alternates, different figure sets, etc.
OpenType Pro (Pro)
OpenType Pro fonts share the same technical specifications as OpenType Standard (OT) fonts, but support a broader range of languages. Supported language encodings include Central European, and often Greek, and/or Cyrillic and Extended Cyrillic. In our example FF DIN Pro includes Western, Baltic, CE, Latin 3, Turkish, Greek, and Cyrillic character sets, and several alternates.
Besides the CFF (PostScript-flavoured) OpenType versions, FontFont are now offering Offc FontFonts – TTF (TrueType-flavoured) OpenType fonts for all those customers who are working with non-OT-savvy applications, for example MS Office applications like Word, Excel, Powerpoint. Those users cannot access OT layout features such as alternative figures and small caps as they are built into the “regular” fonts. The new OpenType TTF Office fonts are based on Unicode and contained within one single .ttf file. The fonts are style-linked, i.e. grouped together under a single item in the font menu. The Regular or Roman font can be turned Bold, Italic, and Bold Italic by clicking the appropriate style buttons. The default figure set is Tabular Figures (TF); if they are available in the typeface Small Caps with Oldstyle Figures (OSF) are provided in separate fonts. Offc is the most universally compatible font format.
Important: As there are no built-in advanced typographic features, small caps, different figure sets, etc. need to be accessed by changing the font, and some features are missing.
Offc Pro fonts share the same technical specifications as regular Offc fonts, but support a broader range of languages. Supported language encodings include Central European, and often Greek, and/or Cyrillic and Extended Cyrillic. In our example FF DIN Offc Pro includes Western, Baltic, CE, Latin 3, Turkish, Greek, and Cyrillic character sets.
WOFF & EOT Lite
When purchasing Web FontFonts you receive two formats currently supported by the most common web browsers – EOT Lite for Microsoft® Internet Explorer, and WOFF for Mozilla® Firefox®. This covers about 85% of the market. As for the remaining – Google Chrome, Safari, Opera, and the rest – it is to be expected that they will soon join in implementing WOFF as well. The fonts are delivered with User Guides featuring helpful information for web developers and system administrators. HTML test pages for each of the downloaded fonts are also included.
Similar to the Offc FontFonts, tabular lining figures are the default figure set, and small caps with proportional oldstyle figures (if present in the character set) are available as separate fonts. Language support is the same as for OpenType® (CFF/PostScript) and Office FontFonts (TTF).
Important: Web FontFonts can only be used online, and won’t install in your operating system.
WOFF & EOT Lite
Web Pro fonts share the same technical specifications as regular Web fonts, but support a broader range of languages. Supported language encodings include Central European, and often Greek, and/or Cyrillic and Extended Cyrillic. In our example FF DIN Offc Pro includes Western, Baltic, CE, Latin 3, Turkish, Greek, and Cyrillic character sets.
So in a nutshell:
• For work in graphic design applications, pick OT or Pro • For work in office and home applications, pick Offc or Offc Pro • For publishing online, pick Web or Web Pro • If you need extended language support, always pick a Pro version