User login

Making the Move to Open Type Fonts

(August 2007) posted on Mon Aug 27, 2007

Streamlining fonts on the front end relieves headaches later

click an image below to view slideshow

By Stephen Beals

OpenType fonts, however, eliminate every single font issue I’ve just noted. Absolutely identical on Macs and PCs, no matter which operating system is being used, OpenType fonts comprise a single file, including the screen and printer font, plus room for those wonderful ligatures and special characters the font designer wants to include (that is, there is more room for the data within the structure of the font itself).

Developed by Microsoft and Adobe, OpenType fonts first appeared on the scene in the late 1990s. Today, the major font producers have developed or are developing OpenType fonts. OpenType fonts make the life of anyone involved in file output in any print environment significantly easier.

I suggest that print providers make a point of advocating the use of the OpenType format. It doesn’t have to be Adobe, although they certainly have the largest library out there, and their fonts are by far the most widely used. As indicated earlier, many other manufacturers have adopted the OpenType format. It’s still probably a good idea to stick with the most reputable type libraries, keeping in mind that there are a lot of very reputable independents out there.

You might want to consider buying the entire OpenType library. It’s expensive at $4999 (the best discount I could find was $200 off), but maybe if enough people jump all over Adobe for a better price, that cost might move a bit. Another idea is to join the Adobe Solutions Network (ASN), which ranges from free to $995. Once a member, perhaps you can use your leverage to get a better deal. In any case, running all your jobs without font problems could pay back your investment pretty quickly.

It’s doubtful most shops can "require" OpenType fonts, even if it might be a good idea. But it might be possible to write into your basic contract a clause that relieves you of responsibility for type problems if font types other than OpenType are used.

I know the industry is not likely moving to OpenType overnight. In fact, I’m sure Cornell University will have some stragglers turning in files with PostScript and TrueType-and even an occasional dFont for some time to come. But, to me, the sooner we get to fully OpenType workflows, the better for everyone concerned.

Stephen Beals (, in prepress production for more than 30 years, is the digital prepress manager with Finger Lakes Press in Auburn, NY.