For about 12 years now, Windows (PCs) and Apple (Macs) have ended support for Type 1 and True type fonts in favor of Open Type fonts. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still buy a True Type font or that they won’t ever work, but it does mean that you are walking on thin ice. Systems and software are no longer developed with these old fonts in mind, with the exception of Adobe who allows you to put the font in the library of the software using it. Even then, you may still encounter problems. So why switch to Open Type fonts? Why should you give up thousands of dollars worth (if you are an agency) of licenses for fonts?
Open Type Fonts have more fun because:
- They are more universal. A PC can use it and a Mac can use it. You can copy the file back and forth and not lose any data. No need to worry about what kind of operating system your vendor or clients have.
- They have more options. Previously limited to 256 characters, these fonts are full of extras like pictorial characters, fancy swashes, oldstyle numbers, etc.
- They have Two flavors. For the type nerds out there, Open Type still comes in two kinds of flavors that hint at the type of curves in the font. If this sounds confusing, don’t worry—the average consumer won’t know the difference.
- They are easy to get. Even most free fonts are now obtainable as an Open Type font. They may not have all the kerning, tracking, and extra characters that a font from a foundry does, but they will still work on your Mac and PC.
So what about the other 5-100 reasons? Do you need 100 reasons to love the idea of a universal, versatile font? Did people need 100 reasons to use Helvetica for everything? Nope. Just enjoy the ease with which you can collaborate with people and basque in the happiness of extra character sets.
“But I don’t have the money to switch everything all at once!” Does anyone, really?
Until you can get your hands on Open Type fonts, here are some tips to make sharing files less painful:
- When sending print ready files to vendors, send them as PDFs and/or convert the type to outlines when feasible. Just keep in mind that if you or the vendor need to make last minute changes to the type, you’ll need a copy of the working file without the type converted to outlines and you may have to make the changes yourself if the vendor doesn’t have that font.
- When upgrading or changing servers/operating systems/software, keep in mind that you may not be able to use the same fonts that you were before with every updated software program. Results will vary. Before you upgrade, make sure you have a way to recover your working files and the fonts. Or at least a PDF of everything.
- Adobe still allows you to use these old fonts, so in a pinch, put them into the library for the Adobe program you are using. Occasionally this has been known to work or not work when switching between programs, so be cautiously optimistic.
Chances are you won’t run into serious trouble, so there is no need to rush out and drop a grand on fonts—unless time is money, like a lot of money. Work toward Open Type gradually, if needed. At the very least, make sure your company’s brand fonts are the first ones to be upgraded.