Type 1 fonts

Type 1 is a font format that came to market around 1984, together with PostScript and the Apple LaserWriter. This is the reason why the font format is sometimes called PostScript Type 1, even though you can also print these fonts on non-PostScript devices since the early nineties.

Early 2021 Adobe announced that its Creative Cloud applications like InDesign and Illustrator will stop supporting Type 1 fonts in January 2023. In Photoshop support for type 1 fonts already ends in 2021. The company recommends using OpenType fonts instead.

Since Type 1 is nearly 40 years old, it is positively ancient in technology terms. The format has effectively been superseded by OpenType, which keeps all the advantages of Type 1 and adds cross-platform compatibility and a slew of sophisticated typographic features.

Some of the key limitations of Type 1:

  • It does not allow for more than 256 glyphs (character shapes) to be included in a single font. There is a special flavor of Type 1, called CID fonts, that gets around this limitation but it relies on a rather rigid ‘character collections’ mechanism. Old (pre-2003) output devices sometimes cannot handle CID fonts properly.
  • Type 1 fonts are not cross-platform. There are tools to convert Mac fonts to Windows and vice versa but the conversion can be a hassle.
  • The font format stores its data in a number of separate files (the minimum being 2 files).
  • Since the font format is soo old, font names stick to the 8 character limit of the older DOS days. The cryptic names make it difficult to determine which typeface is stored in a file.

Type 1 fonts on Macs running OS X

OS X still offers full support for Type 1. More information can be found on the Leopard & fonts page.

Type 1 fonts on Macs running System 9 or earlier

On Macintosh systems, Type 1 fonts consist of two files:

  • A file containing the outline fonts. This file is commonly referred to as the printer font. It often looks like this:

    but it can also look different, like this for instance:

  • A file containing a bitmap representation of the font in at least one point size. This bitmap file is called the screen font. This file also contains the metrics data. The icon resembles a suitcase.

For versions of System 6, use Font/DA Mover to install bitmap fonts into the System file and put PostScript files into the System Folder.

In System software versions 7.0 or 7.0.1, install bitmap fonts by dragging a font suitcase or font file onto the closed System file. Put PostScript fonts in the Extensions folder.

To use PostScript fonts with System software version 7.1 and later, install bitmap (screen) and PostScript (printer) fonts in the Fonts folder. You can drag fonts or font suitcases to the closed System Folder. The system presents a dialog box asking whether you want to place them in the Fonts folder. Click ‘OK’ to confirm.

Type 1 fonts on Windows

Type 1 support varies between the different flavors of Windows and Windows applications.

Microsoft Windows 8 & 10

There are reports that type 1 fonts don’t work properly on the newest Windows releases. You should switch to TrueType or OpenType fonts. Keep in mind that even if you succeed in getting Type 1 fonts installed, there are many applications that no longer support them. Microsoft Office 2013 and later, for example, no support Type 1 fonts and there is no workaround.

Microsoft Windows 7

You can still install type 1 fonts by right-clicking on the .pfm file and choosing to install the font. This only works if the .pfm and .pfb files are in the exact same directory.

Microsoft Vista

Vista still offers partial support for Type 1. More information can be found on the Vista font page.

Windows 2000

Windows 2000 is the first version of Windows to natively support Type 1 PostScript fonts. It does not suffer from the limitations of INI files that plague Windows ’95, ’98, and ME. Even if ATM is installed on Windows 2000, all that ATM does is use the Windows API to activate and deactivate fonts.

Below is the icon that is used for Type 1 fonts.

Note that if you upgrade a Windows NT 4 system to Windows 2000, that could be the source of a number of problems associated with fonts. The transition from Windows NT 4 to Windows 2000 should be done via a clean install.

Drag-n-drop is not the process for installing Type 1 fonts. Per Microsoft, you should be able to right-click on the .pfm file for a font and install that way, assuming that the .pfm and .pfb files are in the exact same directory. This is the same as for Windows 7.

Windows NT 4

Windows NT 4.0 is a bit peculiar when it comes to handling Type 1 fonts: although it can read them without ATM, it still can’t use them. Instead, NT uses a built-in PostScript to TrueType converter to make a lower-quality TrueType font for screen display and printing. You can use the converted font but the output quality is inferior to the original, high-quality PostScript font.

Windows 95, 98 and ME

These versions of Windows do not offer native support for Type 1 fonts. You have to install Adobe Type Manager (ATM) Light or ATM Deluxe to use Type 1 fonts. ATM Light can be downloaded for free from the Adobe website.

ATM Light adds 3 basic functions to Windows:

  1. It allows the user to install Type 1 fonts
  2. It will make sure those fonts are displayed properly on-screen, without jaggies and with anti-aliasing if needed.
  3. It also allows proper printing of PostScript Type 1 fonts on non-PostScript devices.

ATM Deluxe adds font management features as well.

Both flavors of ATM keep a list of all installed fonts (names and font file names) in a file called ATM.INI. INI files are limited to 64K which can lead to various font problems if too many fonts are installed on the system. The actual limit will depend on the length of font names and length of file names (e.g. you get more fonts if you put them in C:\F than in C:\PSFONTS).

Windows 9X keeps a list of PostScript fonts for EACH PostScript printer in another file called WIN.INI which is also limited to 64K. The actual number of fonts you can have installed depends on what other stuff is in WIN.INI, the length of font names and the length of file names as well as the number of PostScript printers (printers created using the AdobePS driver do not have this requirement

On the Windows operating system, PostScript type 1 font data are contained in two separate files:

1. The outline data are contained in a file that carries the extension “.PFB”.
2. The metrics data are gathered within a file that uses the extension “.PFM”.

Outputting Type 1 fonts

The Type 1 font technology is a well known and proven technology that works very well.
All PostScript output devices contain at least the following 35 fonts which are called the base fonts:

  • Avant Garde Gothic
  • Bookman
  • Courier
  • Helvetica
  • Helvetica Narrow
  • New Centura Schoolbook
  • Palatino
  • Symbol
  • Times
  • Zapf Chancery
  • Zapf Dingbats

Newer PostScript 3 devices can by default contain far more fonts.

11 thoughts on “Type 1 fonts

  1. can i change the type-1 fonts to embedded fonts?
    is any software to convert the type-1 fonts to embedded?

  2. Hi everyone.

    I have two questions: is MetaPro type 1font?
    I am not sure either if Helvetica is a type 1 font or not?

    Thank you very much in advance!

    1. A font is like a piece of music. Songs can be made available in different formats, like vinyl, CD or MP3. As such, you cannot claim that ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen is a ‘vinyl song’ or a ‘streaming song’. It was first released on vinyl but is now available in other formats. Helvetica is/was also available in different font formats, so it is not really a ‘type 1 font’. At some point in its lifecycle, it was available as a type 1 font – that much is correct.

  3. PostScript fonts are font files encoded in outline font specifications developed by Adobe Systems for professional digital typesetting.

    1. Arial used to be available in the Type 1 format but nowadays it is usually a TrueType or OpenType font. Typefaces and font file formats are two entirely different things. It’s a bit like asking ‘Is a picture of a dog considered a JPEG file?’ Yes, such a picture might be a JPEG file, but it could also be a PNG or a PDF or a Nikon NEF file. A file format and the content stored in it are two separate things.

  4. Yeah, Windows 10 Creators Update really royally screwed everyone that has and uses Type 1 fonts. Worked just fine before the update.

    Now I have to REPLACE all those Type 1 fonts with TTF or OTF fonts for CorelDraw X7+ to run normally. Now it’s slow everytime I merely copy text that uses Type 1 font.

  5. Type 1 font can have more than 256 glyphs (character shapes) included in a single font.

    Only 256 glyphs can be accessed at a time, but the font can be re-encoded to access other glyphs. Every glyph in the font can be also accessed by the glyph name regardless of the encoding.

  6. I am having problem with copying my font to Imac 10.6.8. Certain font is incompatible with it while work perfectly with previous Imac and recently released Macbook Pro.

    This is frustrating really. Any solutions guys? Thanks a lot.

  7. hi – I have a large product brochure created in Quark express back in 2000 on a PC. We still work on PC’S here – Windows 2003 – and I have converted the file into an InDesign .indd, but many of the fonts are failing – particularly the TimesTen Cyrillic font. Without that font we lose all of our Russian translation, and would have to hire a new translator to redo the whole catalogue.

    The original font files were saved with the project – and they have no extensions. I do not know if they are the .pfb or .pfm files – I only see one file for each font.

    I have downloaded Adobe Type Manager Light – and I have no idea what to do with it. The program shows a directory of only my OTF fonts (not even the TTF) and nothing else is visible or selectable anywhere. If I do a font search with the ATM program and go to the folder with the fonts files from the old project, which I assume are PostScript 1 – nothing appears.

    So, what am I missing?
    If it is not possible to convert these old font files – or they are incomplete or corrupted – can I simply buy the new TimesTen Cyrillic font package from Adobe (TTF or OTF) and install? **Will those new font files recognize the input existing in my InDesign catalogue project?**

    Thank you for your ideas in advance. This website has already given me at the very least some good information to keep searching with!

    Best regards,

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