What is OpenType?

OpenType is a new cross-platform font format developed by Adobe and Microsoft in 2001. Based on Unicode, OpenType is an extension of the TrueType SFNT format that can support PostScript font data and new typo-graphic features. There are two types of OpenType fonts: the ones containing TrueType data that have a .ttf or .ttc suffix in the font file name, and the PostScript based OpenType fonts that have an .otf file name suffix.

Additionally, OpenType fonts with support for central European languages can be distinguished by the word "Pro" in part of the file name.

Features of OpenType

One of the characteristics of OpenType is cross-platform font format. ATM users probably know that ATM fonts have different formats across Mac and PC platforms such as pfb, pfm, and afm, while PostScript based OpenType fonts only have .otf file name suffix, the same font file works on both Mac and PC.

Compatibility with Applications

Some new typographic capabilities are added to OpenType fonts such as swash, ligatures, and ordinals (refer to the samples). Note that the OpenType layout features can only work with compatible applications, and only the features supported by the applications can be turned on. Conversely, if the OpenType fonts are only add-ons of the features, only those features provided with the OpenType fonts can be used.

In addition, the minimum system requirements for OpenType fonts are that ATM Light 4.1 or later is required for Windows 95, 98, ME or NT4 (not required for Windows 2000 or XP); and ATM Light 4.6 or later is required for the Mac OS 8.6 to 9.2 or Mac OS X "classic" (not required for Mac OS X native).

Influence of OpenType Fonts on Chinese Publishing and Features of New TrueType Fonts

In summary, OpenType fonts have contributed to desktop publishing, but they mainly benefit English (Latin fonts) publishing. Most of the features do not apply to Chinese characters because of different character structures.

Furthermore, new TrueType fonts now also have the advantage of cross-platform font format. Most importantly, since different OpenType fonts support different layout features, it runs the risk of characters not displayed properly when switching fonts.

  • New additions since 2012

    Owners of Monotype Unicode Chinese OpenType Collections 2012 (PRC and HK), please follow the following links for a list of latest releases since 2012…

    HK Releases Since 2012
    PRC Releases Since 2012

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