3.499 Mac fonts (84)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Tue, 26 Sep 89 21:11:18 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 499. Tuesday, 26 Sep 1989.

Date: Tue, 26 Sep 89 04:57:48 EDT
From: David.A.Bantz@mac.dartmouth.edu
Subject: Re: Mac fonts

A recent contribution detailed some aspects of Macintosh fonts, with emphasis
on the tools for creating or modifying a font (to support another (natural)
language, for example). I think a couple of points would provide a useful
addendum for the many folks subscribing to Humanist with modest aquaintaince
with the Macintosh:

* Apple distributed fonts, in particular the fonts distributed since the
introduction of their LaserWriter printers (e.g., the serif fonts Times,
Palatino, New Century Schoolbook, sans serif fonts Helvetica and Avant Garde,
and Courier typewriter-style), provide support for Western European languages.
By default in systems distributed in the US, diacritics are on "dead keys" so
that the diacritic is typed before the vowel (option-u followed by a yields an
a with umlaut on screen and on paper); c-cedilla, ene, sz, and alternative
forms of quotation, question and exclamation marks are single keystrokes which
appear properly on both screen and paper with no additional effort.
(Incidentally, these character sets also include proper opening and closing
quotation marks in addition to typewriter-style dual-purpose, ellipsis dots as
a single character, en- and em-dashes.)

* The distinction between Imagewriter or bitmapped fonts, and Laserwriter or
Postscript fonts is important, but from a strictly users' point of view often
matters little. Because Postscript fonts require a corresponding bitmapped
version to display on the screen, they can in fact be used to print on
Imagewriter (dot matrix printers); printer drivers will cull the bitmapped
fonts from your system. Postscript laser pritners are likewise capable of
printing any font displayed; if the Postscript description is unavailable, the
font will be printed as bitmapped graphics. The results are generally no worse
than the corresponding Imagewriter output, and with the printer's option set
for smoothing, output can be sruprisingly good. The net is, that while best
quality is obtained by matching font types to the intended printer you can use
either font with either printer for useable output and if a font you need is
available in only one format, go ahead and use it.

* If the default dead key and option-key scheme is inconvenient (for example,
if you touch type on a German keyboard with sz and umlauted vowels on the
keyboard, or a French "azerty" keyboard layout) it is possible to use a wide
variety of "international" systems with alternative keyboard layouts. Because
fonts and keyboard layout are all functions of the Mac operating system, no
other changes are required in your software. (However, date and time formats
and alphabetical sorting will be altered along with the keyboard; a few
applications may ignore or make assumptions about these international
resources and thus become confused on these matters when you switch to another

[* If, however, you are one of those bi-lingual-typists who would like to flip
back and forth bewteen two different keyboard arrangements, the Apple-supplied
scheme will not help much. You might want to use Dartmouth's Alternate
Keyboard resource which allows you to switch between different keyboard
layouts (here "keyboad layout" includes the entire string of events from key
presses to internal character representation, so allows you to move or create
new "dead key" combinations as well as interchange the positions of printable
characters). Right now we have standard French, German and Spanish keyboard
layouts, and three alternative layouts for Russian. The Russian layouts are
designed to work with a commercial laser Cyrillic font, which of course we do
not supply.]

* For alphabetic languages *other than* Western European, there are literally
hundreds of fonts - many of them public domain, others costing up to $150 -
available. Many fonts exist for Greek (ancient and modern), Cyrillic
languages, Korean, and a number of South Asian languages. A properly
constructed font will work with virtually any Macintosh application which
supports fonts: essentially all word processors and other text tools, as well
as most grpahics programs. However, a font will not automatically reverse the
direction of writing, so that Hebrew and Arabic require, in addtion to
appropriate fonts, specialized software (assuming you are unwilling to type
backwards!). This particular fault may be corrected in rumored future
versions of the Mac operating system.

* Non-alphabetic languages such as Chinese and Japanese require, pretty
obviously, more than a font. This is a topic for another contribution.