OPENTYPE FONTS – OT, OTF, STD, PRO, COM
If you are a graphic designer, typographer or other font user you should be familiar with the term ‘OpenType’ and will
have noticed the common font formats called OpenType Std and OpenType Pro. But what does it all mean? Read on
and we will demystify, answer some frequently asked questions and provide explanations and opinions.

— What is OpenType (OT)?
— Why is OpenType superior to PostScript & TrueType Fonts?
— What are the Key Typographic Advantages of OpenType Fonts?
— What are the Key Technical Advantages of OpenType Fonts?
— What do all the OpenType Suffixes mean?
— Do OpenType Fonts work in any Application?
— What are OpenType Savvy Applications?
— Are all OpenType Layouts the same?
— Can I buy an upgrade from PostScript or TrueType to OpenType?

What is OpenType (OT)?
The OpenType font format is the most advanced font software technology available that combines expansive character sets, languages and advanced typographic features all within a single font file. It is also cross-platform compatible so
Macintosh and Windows users can share files and documents containing OpenType fonts in perfect harmony.
Like all software, font software evolves and is constantly improved. OpenType is the pinnacle of digital typeface
technology that provides the font designer with greater creative freedom and a precision canvas on which to paint and
capture the most accurate digital rendition of the typeface art form.
OpenType has quietly revolutionised computer based typography and removed many of the constraints imposed by previous font formats and limited graphic design software.
NOTE – You might be surprised to learn that OpenType was developed as long ago as the 1990s and has been the industry standard font format since 2000 with the majority of new fonts being manufactured in this format only.
Why is OpenType superior to PostScript & TrueType Fonts?
PostScript Type 1 fonts (developed by Adobe) were the backbone of page make-up on the Macintosh computer and had
a printer font file (outline font data) and a screen font file (contained within a ‘suitcase’). On the PC there were four files
.AFM, .INF, .PFB and .PFM. Handling and workflow problems were common and cross-platform file sharing was fraught
with difficulties and never really worked that successfully as the Mac and PC Type 1 fonts were coded slightly differently.
PostScript fonts are also limited to 256 characters and restricted to Western European language coverage only. This
means that additional fonts are required for any variation or additional language.
TrueType is similarly restrictive with a 256 character set limitation. It is used mainly on the PC platform, is a single font
file and often requires additional screen enhancement (hinting) to improve screen legibility at small sizes.
OpenType is a Unicode based font format, jointly developed by Adobe and Microsoft, that can contain in excess of
65,000 characters in one cross-platform font where each character or 'glyph' has it's own unique reference number.
This means that multiple languages and a whole host of advanced typographic features, such as small caps, old style
figures, lining figures, tabular figures, ligatures, alternate characters, swashes, fractions, Central European, Greek,
Cyrillic and many other languages, can all be included within one font. Such broad coverage in PostScript or TrueType
would result in 7 or 8 fonts costing up to £200. A single combination Opentype font with all this content would cost
around £40 to £80 so apart from all the other advantages, OpenType is also great value for money.
OpenType fonts also provide superior quality as they will contain all improvements made over many years to the prior PostScript and TrueType versions plus many new enhancements.

What are the Key Typographic Advantages of OpenType Fonts? OpenType fonts provide many typographic advantages and benefits and can contain any of the following components
within a single font:
— Multiple language additions such as Central European, Baltics, Greek, Cyrillic, Turkish, Vietnamese, Armenian etc.
— Common character variants such as small capitals, old style figures, tabular figures and ligatures
— Specialist character variants such as tabular & proportional figures, fractions, superiors, inferiors and ordinals
— Unlimited stylistic alternative characters such as discretionary ligature combinations, swashes and ornaments
— Custom additions such as logos and special alternative characters

What are the Key Technical Advantages of OpenType Fonts? OpenType fonts provide many technical advantages and efficiencies: — Full cross-platform compatibility: documents can be shared seamlessly between Mac and PC platforms
— Font management is simplified as there are fewer font files to organise
— Font data storage requirements are massively reduced, OpenType font files require far less space than PostScript
— Job files are smaller and can be processed faster and more efficiently as far less font data travels with the job
— Guaranteed job consistency: a universal font file locks in kerning and spacing and removes the risk of job reflow

What do all the OpenType Suffixes mean? Not surprisingly, OpenType fonts have been developed or converted from their predecessor formats and come in two
core flavours: PostScript (.otf / CFF outlines) or TrueType (.ttf / TTF). There are then three main types of OpenType
font that carry the suffix Std, Pro or Com.
Opentype Std (.otf) – OpenType Standard, this is the most common OpenType font used in printing and publishing and
is derived from PostScript with a minimum of around 237 characters but can contain random additional characters.
Opentype Pro (.otf) – OpenType Professional, also derived from PostScript but with an extended, content rich character
set that includes a selection of additional characters and features from: Central European, Baltics, Turkish, Romanian,
small caps, old style figures, ligatures, alternates, dingbats, symbols plus random additions. These fonts are aimed at
the professional designer and typographer and require an OpenType Savvy Application (please see section below for
explanation) to access the full range of characters available and to benefit from automated character integration.
NOTE – OpenType Pro fonts are usually more expensive that OpenType Std fonts due to the extended character set.
Opentype Com (.ttf) – OpenType Commercial, this is a specialist form of OpenType font that is aimed at the corporate
user who requires broad multi-lingual coverage. These fonts are derived from TrueType and generally contain the
largest character sets that cater for more than 40 languages. OpenType Com fonts also contain small caps, old style
figures, ligatures, alternate characters, dingbats, symbols and other advanced typographic features. These fonts also
require OpenType Savvy Applications to access all characters and to benefit from automated character integration.
NOTE – OpenType Com fonts are generally the most expensive form of Opentype font and can cost significantly more
than OpenType Pro fonts as they contain the largest character sets.
Not all foundries follow the above system and you will find various other OpenType variations. Some foundries prefer to
make TrueType based .ttf fonts with broad language coverage but use the OpenType Pro label. Pro and Com .ttf fonts
also include different degrees of screen enhancement (hinting) for improved legibility at smaller sizes.
NOTE – To get the full benefit from Pro and Com fonts you will require an OpenType Savvy Application.

Do OpenType Fonts work in any Application? Yes and No. If you are using older application software that is not specifically OpenType Savvy you should be able to
use OpenType fonts but character access will be limited to the basic 256 character set so significant parts of the Pro and
Com layouts are not accessible. You might also experience screen display and spacing problems, particularly with Pro
and Com fonts, but this will vary from one font to the next. TIP – Before buying and installing OpenType fonts check your
application software for compatibility.

What are OpenType Savvy Applications? An OpenType Savvy Application is a piece of software deemed to be fully compatible with OpenType and Unicode and
will usually contain automated features and options to take full advantage of additional and alternate characters. Drop
down menus will permit you to select ‘Discretionary Ligatures’, ‘Contextual Alternates’, ‘Small Caps’ and many other
typographic options so that these alternatives are generated automatically as you type or applied to existing text. Copy
integrity is not affected as the changes are generated ‘on-the-fly’ within the software so your original text can be used
for many purposes. This ability to automatically include special ligatures, swashes and an array of other unique
characters demonstrates the true power of OpenType and is a major enhancement to computerised typesetting. Adobe
InDesign CS, PhotoShop CS, Illustrator CS and Quark 7 (and higher versions) support advanced OpenType layout and
typographic features while the latest Microsoft Office applications are OpenType savvy as well.

Are all OpenType Layouts the same? Unfortunately there are no industry standards applied to OpenType layouts so the content of Std, Pro and Com font
layouts vary from one manufacturer to the next. This can cause irritating problems if you change fonts to find that some
characters are available in one font but not in the next. Linotype and Monotype fonts are pretty consistent but it is pot
luck with most other foundries. Adobe for instance only supply .otf fonts in Std or Pro layouts that have variable
character content. You can buy an identical font from Linotype or Monotype with content that is slightly different.
TIP – If you want to set the same job in different OpenType font styles check to see that font content matches.

Can I buy an upgrade from PostScript or TrueType to OpenType? In some cases a discount is available if you replace your old PostScript or TrueType fonts with OpenType but this is not
offered by many foundries or manufacturers. This is mainly because there is rarely a like for like replacement in terms
of character content, OpenType is a far more advanced technology with superior quality, the End User License Terms
provided with your original font will be completely different to current OpenType Terms and the fonts being replaced are
often more than 10 years old – software of this age generally has no value. Any discount is therefore discretionary.
Olicana Fine

Olicana – an absolutely exquisite handwriting design,
has been created to replicate as closely as possible
pen and ink handwriting. Its available in three unique
styles: rough, smooth and fine. We have used Olicana
Fine in the examples below to illustrate the power and
capability of OpenType technology.


Olicana Fine

Olicana, designed and created by Nick Cooke
Upgrade your fonts to OpenType format & unleash your full creative potential.

For further information about Opentype Fonts, please email sales@cpsnet.co.uk or call us on ++44 (0)1242 285100.
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