vector fonts?

What’s a vector font? Is it a font that I can manipulate in a design program that has vector tools (like illustration programs do)?

It’s a font that’s described as lines and curves of different widths, rather than as a set of pixels. It makes them theoretically independent of screen resolution, though your mileage may vary.

I have no idea about manipulating them.

The fonst on your computer are almost certainly vector fonts. You should be able to modify them in Illustrator, yes (as well as use in word processing and such). You’ll only be able to make it bigger/smaller/adjust kerning/leading/add a stroke/etc. unless you convert the text from type to a path. When it is a path you can manipulate it like any other vector object.

      • A vector font is a font where the glyphs (the little shapes it prints) are generated by filling a specified outline, as opposed to “showing a set of colored points”. Vector fonts are considered superior to bitmapped fonts for most uses because vector fonts can be scaled up and down with minimal distortion.

        There’s different font formats for Mac/Windows, and different types for Windows as well: bitmap (ancient!), TrueType (the “normal” Windows font type), OpenType (the newer Adobe/Microsoft type). Macs used Postscript in the past, and still can now, as well as OpenType. —And any program run on either system can have its own capability to use any font format. For example, the Adobe software run on Windows allows using Postscript fonts, even though Windows doesn’t normally support PostScript fonts. OpenOffice and StarOffice run on Win98 or WinME uses OpenType fonts, eventhough Win98/ME does not natively support OpenType fonts.
  • If you want to make your own customized font on Windows, then use TrueType The two most-popular programs for creating TrueType fonts (*.ttf) are Fontlab and Fontographer. In these, you draw the outline that you want, and the font program fills it in for you. That is what a vector font is. Font Creator is a small one I like to use for certain things as well. Each of these has advantages and drawbacks I can bore you with further if you wish. These programs are for editing Truetype fonts on Windows, I don’t know what is used for Macs. But as far as I can tell, Illustrator 10 on Windows cannot edit TrueType fonts at all, it won’t even open them. You can place text in an Illustrator file and then “convert text to shapes” and then edit the resulting shapes manually… but then… the shapes are technically no longer “text”, really. …?
    I never tried opening PostScript fonts with Illustrator on Win98/XP so I dunno about that.

  • Bitmap fonts are still used for lots of things in industry–old machinery that still prints with low-resolution dot-matrix printers–and now, particularly a modern use is for web-enabled sites for cell-phones. At low screen-resolutions, it is easier for a processor to display a bitmap font than it is to display a vector font. Fontlab and Font Creator are TrueType-only-editors (-I thinks-) but Fontographer has the ability to generate several types of font formats, bitmap being among them.
    ~

Mac guy checking in - We use Fontographer too - it is very cool. Illustrator 10 on the Mac can handle TrueType fonts and convert them to paths. So can Illustrator ‘CS’ (the new OS X version). The trouble is, people always want to edit stuff at the last minute, and their ‘text’ is no longer editable text once it’s been converted to paths.

Don’t get me started about the font handling in OS X. I love my G5, but this is ridiculous.

To the OP: Vector fonts are the vast majority of fonts that you will find and can use. Unless you dig an old floppy (5.25") out of a trunk and try to use it, you are already swimming in the glorious world of vector fonts. They DESCRIBE the shape they should be at whatever size you want to use them. The alternative fonts prescribe their shape at their own optimal size. They will look bitmapped and jaggy if you exceed their parameters. Best of luck.