OTF vs. TTF – What’s the Difference?

OTF and TTF are font file extensions used to format documents for on-screen and physical printing. In fact, OTF was the redesign of TTF. However, TTF remains popular.

OTF vs. TTF - What's the Difference?

Read on to learn the key differences between OTF and TTF and when it’s best to choose one over the other.

What Is OTF?

The OpenType Font (OTF) is a format for scalable computer fonts. Adobe and Microsoft developed the OTF as a standard for digital type fonts. They wanted a font that offered cross-platform compatibility and supported all writing systems globally.

OTF combines aspects of PostScript and TrueType font basic structure formats for intricate data structures. It can store up to 65,000 characters, including special characters, letters, digits, and glyphs. OTF is entirely scalable, so it can be resized while maintaining quality. Note that it is supported by Windows 2000 and later and Mac OS X.

What Is TTF?

Apple and Microsoft developed TrueType Font (TTF) to compete with Adobe’s Type 1 fonts used in PostScript. They intended to accommodate cross-platform functionality. It has long been the most common format for fonts on Mac and Windows, and all major browsers support it.

TTF has a single file package comprising the TrueType file used for the screen only and the PostScript file for printing. This configuration made installing new fonts easier and served as an early cross-platform font, compatible with most devices. However, the inefficiency led to Adobe and Microsoft creating OTF for more file information storage.

TTFs can be resized without quality loss and display the same on physical prints as shown on-screen. TTF is the most common font used by Mac and Windows.

OTF vs. TTF: The Differences

The most significant difference between these two fonts is their competencies.

TTF relies solely on glyph tables to define how each character looks. In comparison, OTF uses glyphs with Compact Font Format (CCF) tables. CCF uses cubic Bezier for fewer points to determine how a character would look in contrast to the quadratic Bezier splines TTF uses. Quadratic Bezier splines are mathematically easier and quicker to process than cubic Bezier but require more points.

If you’re a graphic designer, you’ll likely choose the OTF type as it offers much more freedom to manipulate the characters with specialized software like Adobe Illustrator. Fonts of any size can be displayed with high precision and look great on web pages, for example.

OTF Files Are Smaller

The use of CCF in OTF may lead to significantly smaller file sizes, as no special features are used in the font. Its alternates, small caps, ligatures, etc., are inside the font instead of held separately. Operating systems can also process OTFs more efficiently.

OFT Smartfont Features

OFT adds some smartfont features, in addition to the SFNT (a font file containing other fonts) structure used by TTF, which adds additional language support to the fonts. OFT supports advanced typesetting features.

TFTs Are More Popular

Despite OTF advantages, especially with CCF, the use of TTF is still very much productive. Although it has taken longer than predicted, the number of OTFs is on the rise. This is due to the lack of simplicity in making TTFs compared to OTFs using CCF.

OTF vs.TTF: Similarities

OTF and TTF are ideal for full compatibility across browsers and operating systems. Traditional TTF, modern TTF, and OTF formats can be used for prolonged support with previous internet browsers, especially mobile browsers.

OTF vs. TTF: Which Is Better?

OFT is better for designing print materials, and TTF is better for web design or mobile design fonts for desktop and mobile displays.


What is EOT?

EOT stands for Embedded Open Type. Microsoft designed this font for online use and to address copyright shortcomings of OTF and TTF when publishing online. EOT uses a Microsoft tool to create fonts from existing OTF and TTF fonts.

What is WOFF?

Web Open Font Format (WOFF) is an OTF or TTF with compression and metadata supported by all major browsers. It was created by Microsoft, Mozilla Foundation, and Opera Software to reside on the web. The fonts are compressed, which speeds up load times. The metadata accommodates the inclusion of license data within the font file to address any copyright issues.

What is SVG?

Scalable Vector Graphics fonts contain glyph outlines as regular SVG elements and characteristics like they were a single vector object in an SVG image. SVG lacks font-hinting, which is extra information embedded to render small font sizes with legibility and quality. This font is not great for body text. But it is the only file format compatible with Safari version 4.1 for iOS.

OpenType vs. TrueType

Although OTF and TTF files are similar, they are mainly distinguished by different outline formats. The character outlines in OTFs are created by cubic Bezier paths, whereas TTFs are made of quadratic Beziers. TTG is better for digital display, while OTF is better for print. However, almost all modern font apps can work with OTF and TTF files.

Which file type is best suited to your project? Have you experimented with other font file types? Let us know in the comments section below.

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