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What is True Type font?

What does it mean? And how can I apply it to my work effectively?

Fonts are the different styles of typefaces used by a computer to display text. You are looking at text in many different sizes on your computer all the time. Early computer operating systems relied on bitmapped fonts for display and printing. These fonts had to be individually created pixel by pixel for display at each particular size desired. Making the text larger would result in pixelated letters when printed.

TrueType has long been the most common format for fonts on classic Mac OS, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows, although Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows also include native support for Adobe’s Type 1 format and the OpenType extension to TrueType (since Mac OS X 10.0 and Windows 2000). In the late 1980s, Adobe introduced its Type 1 fonts based on vector graphics. Unlike bitmapped fonts, vector fonts could be made larger or smaller (scaling) and still look good.

TrueType fonts come pre-installed in both Mac and Windows operating systems. Unlike other font formats, which use rasterization for hinting instructions, the hinting instructions reside in the font. This helps TrueType fonts to be faithfully reproduced right down to the pixels. It also has better control over the rasterization.

TrueType technology involves two parts:

  • The TrueType Rasterizer
  • TrueType fonts

The Rasterizer is a piece of software that is embedded in both Windows and Mac operating systems. It gathers information on the size, color, orientation and location of all the TrueType fonts displayed and converts that information into a bitmap that can be understood by the graphics card and monitor. It is essentially an interpreter that understands the mathematical data supplied by the font and translates it into a form that the video display can render.

The fonts themselves contain data that describes the outline of each character in the typeface. Higher quality fonts also contain hinting codes. Hinting is a process that makes a font that has been scaled down to a small size look its best. Instead of simply relying on the vector outline, the hinting codes ensure that the characters line up well with the pixels so that the font looks as smooth and legible as possible.

TrueType fonts are easier to manage with excellent scalability and readability. The glyphs associated can be shown at any resolution and at any specific point size. Many TrueType fonts are available on the Web for free. Professionally designed fonts can be expensive but are highly tested at different angles and sizes for premium quality. These features are much in demand for companies involved in advertising and publishing. However, improperly created TrueType fonts can cause errors, some of them potentially causing the computer to crash.

To combat this, our prepress team at Specle has shown how they combat TrueType font issues with files:

On InDesign, the designer just needs to click Type and down to Create Outlines. By outlining your text, the embedded information becomes an image. This keeps the text as it is but will not cause issues with printers.

Specle is the leading ad delivery and validation site for the UK, delivering hundreds of ads per day in just seconds. Access our database of specifications for hundreds of publications from all over the UK for free, and start sending to national and regional newspapers and magazines in seconds.

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