Printing Fonts (Printer Basics)
Font is a set of type characters of a particular typeface design and size. Each typeface, such as Times Roman, Helvetica and Arial, is typically made available in four variations: normal weight, bold, italic and bold italic. Thus, for bitmapped fonts, which are fully generated ahead of time, four fonts would be required for each point size of the typeface. For scalable fonts, which are generated in any point size on the fly, only four fonts would be required for each typeface.
Printer languages describe the contents of pages. Basically, a page contains text and images. The term “text” refers to the characters, letters and also other symbols, on a page, which form words in a human–readable language. Anything printed on a page, which is not a picture or graphic illustration is text (you might say that anything that is no text is a picture or graphic illustration). Text is made up of predefined letters and symbols, which are normally stored in the printer as fonts. Fonts are complex structures, which have several main characteristics. Among others, some main characteristics e.g. are
• the character set,
• the typeface,
• the size.
The major characteristics of fonts and the corresponding terms are described here. Besides text in form of characters, a page may contain images, too. The later posts introduce you to some aspects of printing images.
Characters and character sets
A single alphabetic letter, numeric digit, or special symbol such as a decimal point or comma. A character set is a collection of symbols, the letter “e” is a character, as is the symbol “_”. There are many thousands of characters used by different languages around the world, and storing them all would require a large amount of memory. To alleviate this problem characters are stored in useful collections or sets, which contain the letters and symbols needed for everyday use in a particular language or group of languages. There are character sets for use with specific
languages, such as German, French, Swedish etc., and character sets containing less frequently used characters, such as mathematic or decorative symbols. In this way, each character set contains only a subset of possible characters, called the character set.
Character sets for languages that use the English alphabet generally contain 256 symbols, which is the number of combinations one byte can hold. Except for special fonts, such as Dingbats and Greek symbols, the symbols are the same for the first 128 characters. The letters may have different styling due to their typeface, but an “M,” for example, is an “M” in the same sequential order in each character set.
Typeface family, typeface and font
The design of a set of printed characters, such as Courier, Helvetica and Times Roman is called Typeface. The terms “typeface” and “font” are used interchangeably, but the typeface is the primary design, while the font is the particular implementation and variation of the typeface, such as bold or italics (or none; the normal, upright style). A major difference between typefaces is whether there are tiny horizontal lines at the tops and bottoms of any straight lines. The age-old serif typeface is Times Roman while Helvetica is the traditional sans-serif typeface. Since the TrueType fonts have become so ubiquitous, Times New Roman and Arial have become widely used for serif and sans-serif fonts.
A font is a set of printable or displayable text characters in a specific style and size. The type design for a set of fonts is the typeface and variations of this design form the typeface family. The characters of the same typeface family have a common appearance based on the
characteristics of the letter’s shape. Thus, Helvetica, Arial, or Times are typeface families, Helvetica italic or Arial bold are typefaces, and Helvetica italic 10-point is a font. In practice, font and typeface are often used without much precision, sometimes interchangeably.
In typography, a point is the smallest unit of measure, being a subdivision of the larger pica. It is commonly abbreviated as pt. Characters always have a certain size that is defined in points. In typography, a point is about 1/72 of an inch and is used to measure the height of characters. (Historically, a point was.0138 inches, a little less than 1/72 of an inch, but this has changed.) The height of the characters is one characteristic of fonts. Some fonts are referred to as fixed-point fonts because their representation allows for only one size. In contrast, a scalable font is one that is represented in such a way that the size can easily be changed.