Understanding font formats. (Compute's Getting Started with Fonts & Clip Art)
by William Harrel
A few years ago, there were many different font formats. Today, even though font vendors give font files different names and extensions, there are still only a few. Most likely, the number eventually will dwindle to just two: Type 1 and TrueType (and, perhaps, Hewlett-Packard's Intellifont). In the meantime, here's a description of the six basic font format types.
Bitmapped Fonts: Originally used with earlier HP LaserJets and compatibles, bitmapped fonts require a separate font file for each typeface weight and point size. They also require separate screen and printer fonts. Now that the HP Series III printers use outline fonts, bitmapped font technology is rapidly becoming obsolete. Many font cartridges also contain bitmapped fonts.
Type 1 PostScript Fonts: Until the release of Windows 3.1, Type 1 fonts were the best choice for Windows users. Type managers, such as Adobe Type Manager (ATM) and Bitstream FaceLift, use Type 1 fonts to generate screen and printer fonts at virtually any point size for almost any printer. Because Type 1 fonts are drawn mathematically (rather than as a pattern of dots, as bitmapped fonts are), they're easily manipulated. You can change their shape, size, and fill pattern, and even rotate them at any angle.
Type 3 PostScript Fonts: Although Type 3 fonts are outline fonts, they're sent to the printer as bitmaps. Type 3 fonts are used primarily with PostScript clone printers that don't accept Type 1. They're not as prevalent as they were a few years ago.
Intellifont Fonts: This is the format used by HP LaserJets and compatible printers. While Intellifont technology has come a long way, it's not as versatile as PostScript or TrueType.
Nimbus Q: This is the format used with Z-Soft's SoftType font package (among others), and the technology supported by Geoworks Ensemble, a graphics user interface somewhat similar to Windows.
TrueType Fonts: Originally designed by Apple for the Macintosh and used as a component of Microsoft's Truelmage printer language (a PostScript clone), TrueType fonts and a TrueType type manager are built into Windows 3.1. TrueType fonts provide the benefits of Type 1 fonts, plus the convenience of not having to deal with a third-party font manager. As TrueType catches on, Windows users will benefit greatly from this standardized font system.