Fonts: frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some common questions about fonts.

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What's a font?

A font is a collection of numbers, symbols, and characters. A font describes a certain typeface, along with other qualities, such as size, spacing, and pitch.

What font types are included in Windows?

TrueType fonts and OpenType fonts come with Windows. They work with a variety of computers, printers, and programs.

TrueType fonts can be scaled to any size and are clear and readable in all sizes. They can be sent to any printer or other output device supported by Windows. OpenType fonts are related to TrueType fonts, but typically incorporate a greater extension of the basic character set, such as small capitalization, old-style numerals, and more detailed shapes, such as glyph and ligatures. OpenType fonts are also clear and readable in all sizes and can be sent to any printer or other output device supported by Windows.

Where can I find more fonts?

There are over 100,000 digital fonts in existence. Your best choice is to contact one of the font distributors listed on the Microsoft Typography website.

Some type designers give away their fonts for free, but most type designers and collectives (known as font foundries) charge money for the fonts they produce. The Microsoft Typography website lists font foundries where you can get fonts for free, as well as font foundries that charge for fonts.

How can I make on-screen fonts clearer?

Typically, the higher the dots per inch (DPI), the better the fonts will look. For more information, see Make the text on your screen larger or smaller.

If you set the DPI higher than 96, and you are running Aero (the premium visual experience of Windows 7), the text and other items on the screen might appear blurry in some programs that are not designed for high–DPI display in this version of Windows.

To make text and on-screen items clearer in programs that aren't designed for high DPI

  1. Open Fonts by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Appearance and Personalization, and then clicking Fonts.

  2. In the left pane, click Change font size.

  3. In the left pane, click Set custom text size (DPI).

  4. Select the Use Windows XP style DPI scaling check box, and then click OK.

To improve readability, you can also adjust ClearType, which is on by default. For more information, see Make text easier to read using ClearType and Getting the best display on your monitor.

You can also make fonts easier to read by increasing the DPI scale. For more information, see Make the text on your screen larger or smaller.

How can I make sure that the text I print looks the same as it does on my screen?

There are several things you can do to make sure text looks the same in print and on screen.

  • When possible, use a TrueType font. TrueType fonts look the same when printed as they do on the screen.

  • Make sure that the text you're trying to print isn't animated. If the text is moving, you might not be able to print it.

  • Some fonts are bitmaps and can't be resized. If a font looks different when printed, try printing the font in a different size and see if it looks the same as it did on the screen.

  • Before you print, make sure you've selected the correct paper size and that the font size isn't too big. In most files, you can select the text you want to change, and then use the Formatting toolbar to type or click a font size in the Font Size box. For example, type 10.5. If you don't see a formatting toolbar, check the program's Help for ways to change the font size.

Why do the fonts in my file look different when I open the file on another computer?

When you open a file on a different computer than the one you used to create the file, some fonts might not be available. To fix this, you can embed some TrueType fonts in the file. Embedding keeps the original appearance of the file no matter which computer or printer you use to view or print them. For information about how to embed a font, check the Help for the program you are using.


  • If a font has a license restriction, you can't embed it.

Should I be aware of any issues when installing fonts?

Yes, there are a few issues that you might encounter when installing fonts.

  • If you install a TrueType font with exactly the same name as a PostScript font on the same computer, Windows won't know which one to access, which could result in a font type being altered. To avoid this, don't install different types of fonts with the same name. For more information about TrueType and PostScript fonts, see What's the difference between TrueType, PostScript, and OpenType fonts?

  • If a program is open when you install a font, the program might not register the font. Try closing and then reopening the program.

  • Some fonts require that you install two files in the same folder: A bitmap file for the on-screen font, and an outline file for the printer. If a bitmap file and an outline file are available for a particular font, make sure you install both files.

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