You all must have seen our recent post on where you can find great free fonts for your presentations. If you have paid attention, you should have noticed that there is a difference in what you download at the end. Sometimes it is an .otf,  sometimes it is a .ttf and sometimes you get both of them. The question that you may be asking yourself then is: “What’s the difference between those and which one should I use for my slides?“. This is what I am about to explain to you in this post and don’t worry – it’s not as complicated as it seems.

TTF stands for TrueType Font(.ttf file extension), a relatively older font, while OTF stands for OpenType/CFF Font (.otf file extension), which was based in part on the TrueType standard. Even though these two font types have a lot in common, they are primarily distinguished by their different outline formats. The character outlines(see the figure below) in OT/CFF fonts are made of cubic Bézier paths whereas in TT fonts they’re made of quadratic Béziers. In plain English this means that if you are a graphic designer, you will choose the OTF type because it gives you a lot more freedom to manipulate each and every character (by using specialized software like Adobe Illustrator), but if you just want to make your presentation look better, than which one you will end up choosing does not matter.

beziersTwo similar paths. Cubic Bézier (left) and quadratic Bézier (right).

A bit more details for the more curious readers:

TTF was created by Apple and Microsoft in the 1980s and currently is the most famous font file. TTFs include all of the needful for screen viewing and printing right in the same file. Conviction: Everyday use font.

OTFwas developed out of TTF in the late 1990s by Apple and Microsoft again. It can store up to 65 000 characters including special characters, letters, digits and glyphs with extended typographic features. OTFs are useful when working in the same time with multiple languages. They are sometimes a bit more expensive, because of this reason. Conviction: Suitable for designers looking for bigger freedom.

PostScript(yeap, you thought it’s just OTF and TTF, right?)was developed by Adobe in the late 1980s. These fonts contain two separate parts that are required to be installed, thus their set up is a bit harder. They are considered with higher resolution than OTF and TTF and thus used for quality literature printing. Conviction: Most beneficial, when in need for highest quality possible.

There you have it – everything that you as a presenter, trainer or speaker need to know about the different types of fonts. You see? I told you that it’s not that complicated 🙂