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Opentype vs Truetype fonts: Key differences; which one should you use?

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If you’ve ever found yourself looking for some extra fonts other than the ones that come with your OS or program, you must have run into the different types of font formats that are out there.

Opentype (OTF) and Truetype (TTF) are two such font formats. But how are they different? How do a few pixels on a screen matter, and should you even care? 

In this article, we’re comparing OTF and TTF fonts to determine the key differences and which one would work best for you. 

Also read: Where are Windows 10 Sticky Notes stored?


What is TrueType (TTF)?

Speaking of the two font types that we’re discussing in this article, TTF came first. The format was a joint effort by Apple and Microsoft in the early 1980s to develop cross-platform fonts that could be supported natively by Windows and macOS and wouldn’t be a pain for printers. TTF is also extensively used by programs like Microsoft Word.

Opentype vs Truetype fonts: Key differences; which one should you use?

The package file containing the font has the screen and printer data embedded into one file, making it easy to install fonts. TTF, in many ways, served as an early cross-platform font format that could be used by most if not all consumer devices with ease. 


What is OpenType (OTF)?

Opentype fonts or OTF is also the result of a joint effort, albeit this time between Adobe and Microsoft. This format’s core purpose is the same as that of TTF, to provide a cross-platform font format that includes screen and printer data in one file.

Opentype vs Truetype fonts: Key differences; which one should you use?

However, OTFs are far more capable than TTFs because they can go up to 65,000 characters in a single font file. This gave designers options to include additional characters as follows.

  • Glyphs: If you’re looking for something stylistically different from the default character that you’d instead use, glyphs can come in handy.
  • Ligatures: These are strictly stylistic additions that join two characters together to form sort of a two in one character. Considering it cursive writing except you’re typing. 
  • Alternate characters: Alternate characters are exactly what they sound like; these are alternative options for any non-alphanumeric characters that you might use. 

Also read: 7 must-have Graphic Designer apps for iPhone users


OTF vs TTF: Which one should you use?

To a designer, the only difference between the two is OTF’s additional font capabilities that give them more options when trying to blend in the font with their designs and give them more flexibility in their workflow that would incrementally improve their overall work.

To the regular everyday person, you’re probably not going to notice the difference as most of the features would rather go unused. 

OTF is definitely the better of the two owing to its typesetting features, but as aforementioned for regular consumers, it’s not going to make any difference whatsoever. 

So in case you’re looking for a font online and can’t really find an OTF version of it, don’t think too much. Unless you’re explicitly going to need the additional features an OTF has to offer, TTF will do just fine for you.

Also read: How to change the font in Windows 10?

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: yadullahabidi@pm.me.

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