Acute Systems

Mac and Windows PC Fonts

Mac and Windows PC Fonts

PostScript Type 1, TrueType and OpenType fonts are vector outline fonts. They contain instructions for building outlines from scaleable lines and curves which are filled to create the solid shapes of letters and other glyphs. The benefit of representing shapes this way is that they can be scaled to virtually any size and still retain smooth edges (unlike bitmap fonts which exhibit jagged edges and other artifacts when enlarged or shrunken).


TrueType and OpenType Fonts

The TrueType font format has been supported internally on both Mac and Windows operating systems for some time now. No external software is required. TrueType fonts are made up of separate structures of information called tables. Each table contains a specific type of information for a font. All the information (outlines, kerning, widths, etc.) related to a TrueType font is contained in one file. It can also contain information specific to each platform it supports (encoding tables, names in different languages, etc.).
The TrueType collection (.ttc) is a space saving modification of the TrueType format containing multiple TrueType/OpenType fonts that share glyphs. It is most useful for languages with large character sets like Chinese or Japanese that may use the same glyphs for different fonts.

The OpenType font format is an extension of the TrueType format and was created to add advanced typography features. It also bridges the gap between TrueType and PostScript fonts by supporting PostScript style outlines (CFF). Legacy PostScript font outlines (cubic curves) can be used without inexact conversions to TrueType outlines (quadratic curves).

TrueType/OpenType under Windows:

Windows requires only one file for each font. A TrueType font file has a ".ttf" extension. An OpenType font file has a ".otf" extension if it has PostScript CFF outlines and a ".ttf" extension if it has TrueType style outlines.

TrueType/OpenType on the Mac:

Recent versions of Mac OS can use the same TrueType/OpenType font files as Windows. Older versions of Mac OS require that font data be stored in a resource file. Each resource file can contain many types of resources. A Mac recource TrueType font file must have a FOND resource along with the TrueType data resource.

PostScript Type 1 Fonts

Type1 fonts are the native font format for the PostScript page description language. Type 1 fonts have been supported on the Mac OS starting with OS X and in Windows since Win2000. The OpenType font format will likely make Type 1 fonts obsolete.

Type 1 Fonts Under Windows:

Two files are required to use a Type 1 font under Windows. The PFB file contains the actual font outline data. The PFM file contains metric data including kerning.

Type 1 Fonts on a Mac:

Two files are required to use a Type 1 font on the Mac. Both are resource files. The font outline data is stored in a file with type LWFN and is analogous to the PFB file on a PC. A separate file with both a FOND resource and bitmap font is also required.

Identifying Font Files


Mac resource forks

Files on a Mac can have two parts called forks. The data fork holds data (text, images, etc.). The resource fork holds resources (icons, fonts, menus, sounds, etc.). There are actually two files linked to one name in the file system. PCs only have one file linked to each name. Macs also have two four character fields stored with the name for each file. They are called the type and creator. The type field tells the Mac software what type of file it is. The creator is a unique signature identifying a program on the Mac. This field tells the Mac OS what program to launch if the files icon is clicked. PCs identify files with a file name extension. This is the characters after a period at the end of the file name. This tells Windows both what type of file it is and what program to launch if the icon is clicked. OS X can also can use file name extensions like Windows and Linux in addition to a file type and creator. This makes files more portable and easier to transmit over networks.

Font Information Table

The table below contains information about the various font types on each platform.

Platform Font Type Number of Files Required Name extension or Mac type* File Location for installed fonts** Notes
Windows TrueType 1 .ttf \Windows\Fonts
\Winnt\Fonts
TrueType Collection 1 .ttc \Windows\Fonts
\Winnt\Fonts
PostScript Type 1 2 .pfb - Font file
.pfm - Metric file
\Windows\Fonts
\Winnt\Fonts
\psfonts
Both .pfb and .pfm must have the same base name.
Windows will automatically create the .pfm if a pair of .afm and .inf files with the same base name are used to install the the .pfb.
OpenType 1 .otf - PostScript outlines
.ttf - TrueType outlines
\Windows\Fonts
\Winnt\Fonts
Mac OS Classic Non-Suitcase TrueType 1 No extension
Mac type is tfil
System:Fonts
TrueType in Suitcase 1 No extension
Mac type is FFIL
System:Fonts A suitcase may contain multiple TrueType and/or bitmap screen fonts. CrossFont will not be able to convert one that has only screen fonts.
PostScript Type 1 2 No extension
Printer Font Mac type is LWFN
Display Font type is ffil
Suitcase Mac type is FFIL
System:Fonts Printer and display font files might not reside in the same folder.
Mac OS X
Windows style TrueType 1 .ttf .../Library/Fonts
OpenType 1 .otf .../Library/Fonts
Resource fork TrueType Suitcase 1 No extension
Mac type is FFIL
.../Library/Fonts A suitcase may contain multiple TrueType and/or bitmap screen fonts. CrossFont will not be able to convert one that has only screen fonts.
Data fork TrueType Suitcase 1 .dfont .../Library/Fonts
Non-Suitcase TrueType 1 No extension
Mac type is tfil
.../Library/Fonts
PostScript Type 1  2 No extension
Printer Font Mac type is LWFN
Suitcase Mac type is FFIL
.../Library/Fonts
Linux TrueType 1 .ttf various
PostScript Type 1 2 .pfa - Font file
.afm - Metric file
various The .pfa and .afm for Linux are ASCII text versions of the Windows .pfb and .pfm files.
Table Footnotes:
*    Extensions for Windows fonts may not be visible for installed fonts or if Windows is configured not to show extensions. Mac file types are not shown by the OS, a special utility may be required to see them.
**  Some applications may handle fonts themselves instead of using the operating system. In this case font files may be stored in folders elsewhere on the file system.


Typography Glossary


  • AFM (Adobe Font Metric): File name extension for a text file containing font metrics (character widths, dimensions, kerning, etc) for a PostScript Type 1 font.
  • Bitmap Font: A font with characters represented as bitmaps or rendered images. The characters are not meant to be scaled. Scaling the font gives a blocky or jagged appearance.
  • CFF: Compact Font Format. Used in PostScript and some OpenType fonts.
  • Encoding: A font encoding table associates character glyphs with index numbers. Changing the encoding changes which glyph is displayed for a particular key on the keyboard.
  • EOT (Embedded OpenType): Compact form of OpenType font for use on the web.
  • FOND: A Mac FOND resource associates several fonts into a font family. It contains the menu name, metric information (widths, kerning, etc.), and a list of the associated fonts.
  • Font Family: A collection of several variations or styles (regular, bold, italic, etc.) of a particular font. Usually the font menu of an application will display only a font family name, then the user can select each style from a separate style menu.
  • Glyph: The image of a character in a font.
  • INF: File name extension for a text file containing individual platform, application and other metric information for PostScript Type 1 fonts.
  • Kerning: Individual adjustments to the space between character pairs that look too far apart or too close together. Kerning can make text easier to read by giving it a more uniform appearance. Tracking is similar to kerning but it is a spacing adjustment applied universally between all characters in a font.
  • Multiple Master Font: An Adobe format. Multiple Master fonts can create many  font variations from a single base design.
  • OpenType Font: An extension of the TrueType format and was created to add advanced typography features. It also bridges the gap between TrueType and PostScript fonts by allowing PostScript style outlines (CFF).
  • OTF: File name extension for an OpenType font.
  • PFA (Printer Font ASCII): File name extension for a PC Type 1 font file (PFB) in ASCII text readable format.
  • PFB (Printer Font Binary): File name extension for a PostScript Type 1 font file. It contains font outline data in binary format. The PFB and an associated PFM file are used by ATM on a PC.
  • PFM (Printer Font Metric): File name extension for a Printer Font Metric. Includes much of the same information as the AFM file, only in binary format. ATM and Windows use this information for placing characters properly.
  • PostScript: A page description language (programming language for placing text and graphics on a page). Type 1 fonts are the native font format for PostScript.
  • Tracking: A spacing adjustment applied universally between all characters in a font.
  • TrueType Font: This is a vector font format natively supported by both Macintosh and Windows operating systems.
  • TTC (Truetype collection): Multiple TrueType fonts with common glyphs combined into a single file.
  • TTF: File name extension for a TrueType font. This is a file containing font outline data in TrueType format.
  • Type 1 Font: This is a vector font format natively supported by PostScript.
  • Type 3 Font: These are actually PostScript programs which require a PostScript interpreter to display them. They are not compatible with ATM.
  • Vector Font: Fonts that contain instructions for building outlines from lines and curves which are filled to create the solid shapes of letters and other glyphs. The benefit of representing shapes this way is that they can be scaled to virtually any size and still retain smooth edges (unlike bitmap fonts which exhibit jagged edges when enlarged). Vector formats include TrueType and PostScript Type1 fonts.
  • WOFF (Web Open Font Format): Basically a compressed OpenType or TrueType font for use on the web.