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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Understanding OpenType

At the dawn of desktop publishing in the early 1980s, virtually all design was done on a Macintosh. As Adobe and other software vendors expanded support for Microsoft Windows, the platform landscape started to change. It meant more choices for designers, but it also made the complexity of cross-platform publishing environments more common. Most of these issues were worked out over the years, but fonts have long been a cross-platform nightmare.

Fast forward 20 years, and now we have a wonderful new font format called OpenType. In this book there is no room for a complete explanation of all aspects of OpenType, but a few of the most important benefits include:

  • A single, cross-platform font file that can be used on both Macintosh and Windows computers.
  • An expanded character set (65,000+ possible glyphs in a single font) based on Unicode for support of multiple languages.
  • Advanced typographic capabilities such as small capitals, fractions, and ligatures in one font file.
  • Compact font outline information for smaller font file sizes.

OpenType combines the best of TrueType and PostScript fonts in a single file format that works the same on Macintosh and Windows computers. Because OpenType is a superset of existing font technologies, it is also a good solution for reliable output on professional printing equipment. While TrueType and PostScript fonts have driven the last two decades of publishing, we expect OpenType to take us through the next two decades.

Thanks to the power of OpenType, a publishing workflow that combines InCopy and InDesign with Macintosh and Windows computers can be a seamless reality. You don't have to worry about licensing Macintosh and Windows versions of the same fonts and you shouldn't have to worry about inconsistent character mapping between different users on different platforms. If you work in a cross-platform environment but do not use OpenType fonts, you may experience unexpected results with extended characters and advanced typography. For more information about OpenType and where to acquire OpenType fonts visit

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