All About Fonts
- PostScript Fonts
- TrueType Fonts
- OpenType Fonts
- How do I know which type of font I am using?
- How do I make sure I'm sending the correct fonts to my printer?
- Links & Resources
PostScript fonts have two important files. Each of these files must be present in order to render the font properly both on screen and in print.
The "screen" font is a font suitcase containing all the information necessary to render a scalable font on your computer monitor. Often the name of this file will be the full font name (Futura-Bold). In addition to this screen font you must also include the linked printer font (the blue and red lines show the relationship between two printer and screen fonts).
The two "screen" PostScript fonts in this example are Futura-Bold and Futura-Book.
Note: The description for the "Kind" attribute in the Preview pane (on the right in the image) is "Font Suitcase."
The "printer" font contains vector outlines of the font and is often named with an abbreviation of the full font name (FuturBol). In addition to this printer font you must also include the linked screen font (the blue and red lines show the relationship between two printer and screen fonts).
The two "printer" PostScript fonts in this example are FutuBo (linked to Futura-Bold) and FuturBoo (linked to Futura-Book).
Note: The description for the "Kind" attribute in the Preview pane (on the right in the image) is "PostScript Type 1 outline font."
When you use a PostScript font in your design, make sure you include each of these files with your output. This is quite easy to do in InDesign. See "Sending the Correct Fonts to your Printer" below.
TrueType fonts were designed to eliminate the need for multiple files. They incorporate all three files from the PostScript fonts into one file.
When packaging your file, you will not see two files for each font as you will when you use PostScript fonts. The two TrueType fonts used for this example are Futura-CondensedMedium and Futura-MediumItalic
Note: The description for the "Kind" attribute in the Preview pane (on the right in the image) is "Font Suitcase." This is the same as with a PostScript font. To tell the difference between the two, see "Knowing Which Fonts are PostScript, TrueType or OpenType" below.
OpenType was built on TrueType and also contains, in one file, all the information necessary to render fonts correctly both on screen and in print. It's main benefit is that it is cross-platform. The same file will work on both a Windows and Macintosh system. OpenType fonts with the .otf extension contain PostScript information while those with the .ttf extension are TrueType-based. For more information on OpenType fonts visit the Adobe Fonts website
When packaging your file, you will not see two files for each font as you will when you use PostScript fonts. The two OpenType files used in this example are ACaslonPro-Bold.otf and ACaslonPro-Regular.otf.
Note: The description for the "Kind" attribute in the Preview pane (on the right in the image) is "OpenType Font"
Knowing which fonts are PostScript, TrueType, or OpenType
You can tell what most font types are by looking at the extension.
Another, more visual, way to tell which type of font you are using InDesign is to open your file and click Type > Find Font...
A window listing all the currently used fonts will open. It may look something like this:
In the above example, six fonts are used. These are the same fonts used in the other examples given on this webpage.
- Adobe Caslon Pro Bold (OpenType)
- Adobe Caslon Pro Regular (OpenType)
- Futura (T1) Bold (PostScript)
- Futura (T1) Book (PostScript)
- Futura (TT) Condensed Medium (TrueType)
- Futura (TT) Medium Italic (TrueType)
The OpenType fonts appear with an "O" icon next to them, the PostScript fonts have a red "a" icon and the TrueType font icon has a gray and a blue "T."
A third way to tell is by using font management software, such as Suitcase Fusion. Such programs should list the type of font next to it's name.
Sending the Correct Fonts to your Printer
The File > Package... command in InDesign will create a folder containing all the information necessary for a commercial pritner to print your document. Inside this folder will be another folder for fonts, and one for links (images). Sending your printer this folder will bring you one step closer to being Prepress' new best friend.
- Open your file in InDesign
- Click File > Package...
- Go through the menu options on the left and check:
- Fonts: All the fonts you want to use are in the list and the status for each one is OK. Click "Find Font..." if anything is missing.
- Links & Images: Make sure each image type says "CMYK" and not RGB and that the status of each image is "Linked." We prefer linked, rather than embeded, images because it saves disk space. If any of the images are missing, click on them in the list and then click "Relink"
- Click the "Package..." button
- Choose a descriptive name for the text file that will be included with the package. This file will contain instructions for the Prepress team. It is also helpful if you fill out the other requested information (Contact, Company, Address, Phone, Fax, Email). Click Continue
- Select a destination for the packaged folder (preferrably the same folder your original InDesign file is located in) and give it a descriptive name. Click Save.
- The packaged folder will be created in the location you specified. Make sure it contains:
- a .txt file
- an InDesign file
- a Fonts folder containing all the fonts you used (there may be "extra" fonts in this folder. See "PostScript Fonts" above)
- a Links folder containing all the images you used
- Adobe provides an in-depth resource for fonts on their website. Start here!
- PC Magazine has good definitions and explanations of the different font types, especially for Windows users.
- Check out this helpful guide on finding and storing your fonts