More on Fonts

After reading my last article, many of you may be wondering what to do with the fonts that you have now. You know that there are different types that do basically the same thing. You may be unaware of what to do if you have the same fonts in different formats. You may be unsure where to place fonts within the System Folder and where to put unwanted or unused fonts. I will try to demystify some of these font particulars as best I can.

Some of you are undoubtedly asking where should I put these fonts that I get. The answer is quite simple, but important nonetheless. All fonts should be placed in the Fonts folder which is in the System Folder. Installing a font is as easy as dragging it onto the Fonts folder. Most fonts are in a font suitcase, a special kind of folder that holds the different parts of the font. You can open a suitcase by double clicking it, just as you would a regular folder. You will find several files that are named as different point sizes. These are bitmapped font files for each individual size. Even though bitmapped fonts are not used for printing, they are shipped with TrueType and PostScript fonts because it gets displayed faster on the screen.

A bitmapped font is easily spotted because its name is that of a city. The problem is, Apple remade all the Apple produced bitmapped fonts as TrueType fonts and ships them on all new computers. So how do you know if you have the bitmapped versions or the TrueType? Open your Fonts folder and double click on a city named font suitcase. If there is a file icon that has multiple letters on it, then that particular font is a TrueType font. There may be other files in the suitcase. They are bitmapped fonts that are used to display the font in the Font menu.

A PostScript font, as you know, has two parts. The screen font displays it on screen and the printer font is used when printing. The printer font cannot be placed in a font suitcase. If you have a PostScript font that only has a font suitcase (the screen font) with no printer font counterpart, the font is not going to print well. In fact, it will print just as if it were a bitmap font, which is pretty bad.

The most important thing to remember about the different types of fonts is that you can’t have the same font in two different formats. That will cause confusion about which is displayed on screen and what gets printed. For instance, if you have a TrueType font called Roman and a PostScript font also named Roman, it’s possible that the TrueType version will be displayed on screen, but the PostScript version will be printed. Just because they have the same name does not mean that they look same. It’s perfectly fine to have TrueType fonts and PostScript fonts together in the Fonts folder. Just as long as they do not have the same name everything will work fine. If you buy fonts from different companies, you have to be careful not to mix fonts with the same name. Again, if the screen font of one is used and the printer font of the other, large problems occur when printing. The result will not be WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get).

Fonts are one of the most confusing things on a Macintosh because there are so many different types. There are also many companies that make fonts that are similar to others, but not identical, so that you can have even more problems. Rarely do you find informative articles telling you what to do with fonts, so it can get very confusing with nowhere to turn to for help. Again, if you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me.

Brian Koponen (

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