Note: This excerpt does not include the lesson files. The lesson files are available with purchase of the book.
In this lesson you’ll learn about the different types of fonts that you can use with Adobe Creative Cloud.
Choosing font formats for creative projects
Whether you’re new to digital fonts or a veteran of print and online publishing, the use of digital fonts has changed dramatically in recent years with new font formats and new ways to use them. Adobe Creative Cloud stays in step with these changes by providing a variety of fonts for print, online, and mobile use.
Fonts for printing
When you apply fonts to text in primarily print-oriented Adobe Creative Cloud software, such as Adobe Photoshop CC or Adobe InDesign CC (or your word processor), you typically use fonts that were designed to be installed and viewed on a desktop or laptop computer. These are the most established kinds of fonts for personal computers and are sometimes called system fonts or desktop fonts.
Several desktop font formats have been used for print publishing and general personal computer use over the last 20 years. The major font formats of this kind are:
- PostScript. The earliest high-quality fonts used for personal-computer-based print publishing were Adobe PostScript fonts. PostScript fonts made it possible to scale type to any size while preserving smooth curves and sharp edges.
- TrueType. The most common font format in use today is TrueType, which is now found on just about every Windows and Mac OS X system. TrueType is ubiquitous because it started out as an Apple font format and was later licensed by Microsoft; both companies made TrueType the standard font format for their operating systems.
- OpenType. As personal computers and publishing software became more powerful and typographical standards advanced, Microsoft and Adobe worked together to advance type capabilities beyond the limitations of the PostScript and TrueType font formats. This resulted in the OpenType font format, which is an open standard that makes it easier for more companies to create fonts.
A wide variety of inexpensive fonts are available in TrueType format. However, OpenType fonts are now favored by designers and publishers because of advanced typographic capabilities, such as true small caps and old-style figures, and better support for non-English glyphs. (A glyph can be a character or a combination of characters, such as a ligature.) Also, you can use the same font file on Windows and Mac OS X; whereas TrueType or PostScript fonts typically require font files specific to Windows and Mac OS X.
You can use any of these formats in Creative Cloud applications in Windows or Mac OS X. Many fonts are available in all three formats, although new professional fonts are most likely to appear in OpenType format. When you install Creative Cloud applications that support printing, a range of Adobe OpenType fonts are installed along with the application, and those fonts are available to all of the applications on your system.
Fonts for websites
Website projects involve font challenges that don’t exist for print. Because website layouts are not fixed, text may be scaled or reflowed as a web page is viewed on differently sized displays or browser windows. This is especially true today because website layouts are increasingly likely to automatically resize for large desktop displays and small tablet and smartphone displays. For website text to reflow as layouts adjust, the font must be present on the device where the website is being displayed. But all fonts are not present on all computers. If you used a font installed on your computer (a system font) in your design, but that font is not on the reader’s device, text on your website won’t appear as you intended because the reader’s web browser will substitute a font that is actually present on the device. Until recently, the solution to this display problem was to specify a font from the limited set installed on most computers, referred to as web safe fonts. Of course, using web-safe fonts limits design flexibility because there are so few of them to choose from.
On websites where unique typography was a high priority, other approaches were to convert text to an image or to use browser plug-ins that could support high-quality typography. However, images do not scale smoothly, cannot be searched or highlighted as text, and consume more bandwidth than text, which makes pages load more slowly. The disadvantage of browser plug-ins is that you can’t assume they’re installed with every web browser, and browser plug-ins are typically not available for mobile web browsers on smartphones and tablets—the fastest-growing area of mobile usage.
Fortunately, those workarounds are no longer necessary because you can now easily use high-quality fonts on websites thanks to advancements in web standards. Current web browsers can now download fonts from servers. So, if a font is not available on the viewing device, that font will simply be downloaded, and the web page text will be displayed as you designed it. In other words, fonts can now be linked by a URL and downloaded, similarly to how you can include images and videos on a web page by embedding URL links to them. The fonts that you can link to are called web fonts. When you use web fonts, they’re used only temporarily on a site visitor’s web browser and don’t become available to the rest of the system.
The most common web fonts are available in the following formats:
- OpenType or TrueType. It’s possible for some web browsers to download the same OpenType and TrueType fonts you would use for print projects, but those fonts are typically not compressed for high performance over networks.
- Web Open Font Format (WOFF). A WOFF font can be based on OpenType or TrueType but is optimized for fast downloading.
- Embedded OpenType (EOT). An EOT is a compressed Microsoft version of the OpenType font format.
Although you can link to web fonts, you typically do not want to link them to fonts stored on your website the way you store images and other linked content. It’s often best to link to fonts provided by a web font service, such as Adobe TypeKit, which is included with your Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Web font services are useful because there is no font format that works with all web browsers. A web font service can intelligently serve up whichever format works best for the browser that’s requesting the fonts. Another good reason to use web font services is that you don’t have to worry about font licensing issues; the fonts they serve are cleared for use as downloadable elements of websites.
The only disadvantage of web fonts is that they require up-to-date web browsers. Fortunately, browsers that are incompatible with web fonts are becoming less common and are now found mostly on very old systems. The web browsers on mobile devices typically support web fonts, which makes web fonts a practical and current solution that lets you design websites with access to a wide range of high-quality fonts.