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PostScript is an interpretive programming language to describe text, graphics and page layout; it is not just a font definition language. PostScript has become the de-facto standard in the graphics industry and thus most output devices use PostScript. This is not just a printer issue, but one also for process production such as vinyl cutting, silk screening, sand blasting or engraving.

In general, Font Editors (applications that allow you to develop fonts) work in PostScript. That is, drawing technology and test printing are in PostScript. TrueType fonts are a translation of the PostScript definitions. Thus if you have both PostScript and TrueType versions of the same font, you should consider the PostScript version as the Master.

TrueType was developed as a joint venture between Apple and Microsoft. Because of the way it is embedded into the Windows operating system, it has become very popular with PC users.

Unlike PostScript, TrueType is not an imaging language, it is primarily for alphabets. Thus the complexity of images sometimes causes problems in TrueType, while the same image will not have a problem in PostScript. This is usually not a problem with alphabets. However, for logos and other line art it can be.

Because all the Font Editors are PostScript driven, TrueType is a translation. Sometimes, the TrueType equivalent of a PostScript font will not output the same. However, a developer can make a PC/TrueType and a Mac/PostScript font cross-platform compatible.

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Macromedia has some tech notes on font installation. Go to their support site, click on "Top Tech Notes" and then for Mac users see note3648 and for PC users see note 3649. Q&A are listed at the bottom of the notes.

On the Macintosh, PostScript fonts normally get installed in the Fonts folder within your System Folder. You can do this just by dragging the files on TOP of the System Folder (be sure that it's closed); the system will do the rest.

PostScript fonts can be installed without the Adobe Type Manager (R) (ATM) application. However, ATM is used widely to provide better screen images. And ATM is needed if you are not printing to a PostScript printer.

However, on the PC, ATM is needed to install any PostScript font. Thus, because ATM is installed, you can then print to any printer whether it's a PostScript printer or not.

Because of Microsoft's involvement in the development of TrueType fonts, the TrueType installer is built into the Windows operating system. Thus no other application is needed to install a TrueType font.

In Windows 3.1, TrueType fonts are stored in the system directory inside of the Windows directory on your C drive. In Windows 95, TrueType fonts are stored in the Fonts folder within the Windows folder on your C drive.

In Windows 95, though, ATM can be used to install TrueType fonts, not just PostScript. Thus ATM can be used to manage all your fonts.

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On the Macintosh, PostScript fonts are composed of two files -- one printer font file and one suitcase file containing the screen font(s). If ATM is being used, only one screen font size needs to be installed; ATM will make the rest from the printer font definition. However, if you are not using ATM, and you want the screen to look as good as possible, install all the screen font sizes that you want to use.

In general, ATM cannot render very small images well, especially logo images. Thus when using ATM, install a small screen font size that has been hand tooled to look good.

The Macintosh OS expects the printer file name to be standard and thus you cannot change them. In general, the printer file is composed of the first 5 letters of the first word and the first 3 letters of all other words. For example, the font called DigitalIdentitySampler has a printer font file of DigitIdeSam. The suitcase name can be anything you want.

All PostScript suitcase fonts have a number associated with them that defines the font size. This number is part of the font name within the suitcase (ex: Times 10).

On the PC, there are 3 files associated with PostScript fonts. These are the .afm, .pfb and .pfm files. Although the extensions must stay as defined, the first 8 characters of the name is not important and can be anything.

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Only one file is associated with each TrueType font.

On the Macintosh, TrueType fonts are found in a suitcase file, just like the PostScript screen fonts. You can tell which is a TrueType font because its name does not have a number associated with it (ex: Times, not Times 10).

On the PC, the TrueType font file has an extension of .ttf. Although the extension must stay as defined, the first 8 characters of the name is not important and can be anything.

Hinting is a font attribute that allows the developer to tell the output device which lines to keep in proportion, thus controlling rounding errors. This allows the image to print better at small sizes, especially on low resolution devices.

As an example, consider a capital H where the two vertical stems are the same width and height. Without hinting a printer might print one stem with 3 pixels width and one with 4 pixels. But with hinting the printer would output both at the same number of pixels. Again, if the image was very large, say 50 pixels, one might not notice the difference between 50 and 51 pixels. However, at small type sizes such as 10 and 12 point, a difference would be noted.

TYPE 1 vs TYPE 3

When PostScript fonts first came on the market, Adobe fonts looked better than third party fonts. This was because Adobe developed Type 1 fonts which included hinting (see column to the left) and everyone else had Type 3 fonts which did not include hinting.

Type 1 fonts may also be called ATM (Adobe Type Manager) fonts. ATM does not handle Type 3 fonts.

Another difference is that Type 3 fonts allowed both outlined and stroked images whereas Type 1 fonts only allow outlined images. Although this seems like a good thing, stroked images do not print as fast as outlines and thus Type 3 fonts were not as efficient.

Lastly, Type 3 fonts allowed gray scale definitions whereas Type 1 only allows positive and negative space (black and white).

In general, because of hinting, all of today's PostScript fonts are Type 1. Most Type 3 fonts have been upgraded to Type 1 or are off the market.

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Did you know that fonts are not just for alphabets? They make a great way to organize clip art, business graphics and other type of line art. They are more computer efficient than a graphics file and can help you standardize and centralize control of your graphics.

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