CFF Fonts Knowledge Base | Aspose.Font

Introduction to CFF font

The Compact Font Format (CFF) is a digital format primarily used in the Adobe PostScript printing and publishing workflow. It is a compact and efficient way to кутвук fonts in a digital format. It helps optimize memory use and storage and maintains high-quality typographic rendering at the same time.

CFF fonts have the next features:

Advantages and disadvantages of CFF font

The table below shows the pros and cons of CFF fonts, so you could decide whether to use it in your project or not.

CFF fonts are really efficient in terms of file size, so they are good in environments where storage and bandwidth are concerns.CFF fonts can be more complex to create and manage in comparison to simpler font formats, which may lead to potential challenges for font designers and developers.
Based on vector graphics, they can offer lossless scalability.They are widely used in professional publishing, but they are less common in web typography in comparison to WOFF.
CFF fonts support hinting, improving text rendering at small sizes.May lack some of the advanced features found in more modern font formats.
They are well integrated with the PostScript language, which is commonly used in professional printing and publishing workflows.They may have compatibility issues with certain non-Adobe products or older hardware.
Can render characters with sharp detail and precision, even at small sizes.
Include Unicode encoding.
When used in OpenType font files, CFF fonts can achieve cross-platform compatibility.
They are known for their high-quality rendering.

Technical details of CFF fonts

CFF (Compact Font Format) fonts are a part of the OpenType font format specification and are used to represent fonts in a compact manner. Let’s take a look at the technical details of these typefaces:

  1. CFF fonts store glyph outlines as a series of PostScript drawing commands in a compact binary format.
  2. The glyphs are defined as a series of straight lines and curves, represented as mathematical equations leading to high-quality rendering and scalability.
  3. CFF fonts typically use Adobe Standard Encoding, but they can also include custom encodings to support different character sets and languages.
  4. They include hinting instructions that provide guidance to font renderers on how to adjust the glyph outlines.
  5. These fonts often use subroutines to reuse and compress frequently used pieces of PostScript code within glyph definitions, further reducing file size.
  6. There is used compression known as Charstring Compression there. It reduces the size of glyph data without sacrificing quality.
  7. CFF fonts can include a character mapping table (CMap). It associates Unicode code points with glyph indices, which provides support for various languages and character sets.
  8. These fonts may contain metadata stored in standardized tables like the ’name’ and ‘CFF’ tables.
  9. CFF fonts are stored within OpenType font files and are organized into tables. Each table is responsible for specific font-related data, such as glyph outlines, character mapping, and font metrics.
  10. These fonts can be subsetted to include only the necessary glyphs for a particular document or application. This approach reduces file size and improves efficiency.
  11. CFF format is compatible with Adobe’s PostScript printing technology. It is a preferred choice for professional printing and publishing.
  12. Used within the OpenType font format, they provide cross-platform compatibility and access to additional typographic features like ligatures, alternates, and kerning.

How do CFF fonts render glyphs?

CFF renders glyphs using a combination of vector graphics and PostScript-based drawing commands. Here’s an overview of the process:

  1. In CFF fonts glyphs are represented as a set of mathematical equations that describe the outlines of each character.
  2. Each glyph in a CFF font is defined by a series of straight lines and curves.
  3. The outlines of glyphs in CFF fonts are stored as a sequence of PostScript drawing commands that describe how to construct the glyph from basic shapes such as lines and curves.
  4. The PostScript drawing commands specify the coordinates of control points, endpoints, and curve types needed to draw the glyph. These commands are executed by the rendering engine to reconstruct the glyph.
  5. If needed, hinting is applied.
  6. CFF fonts may use subroutines to optimize the storage of frequently used pieces of PostScript code within glyph definitions.
  7. Character mapping table (CMap) associates Unicode code points with glyph indices.

In summary, CFF fonts render glyphs by describing their outlines using vector graphics and PostScript-based drawing commands. The use of vector graphics ensures that glyphs can be scaled smoothly to different sizes, while hinting and other techniques help optimize glyph rendering for legibility and quality, especially at small sizes.

Use cases for CFF fonts

CFF is versatile and finds application in various professional and creative contexts. They can be successfully used in:

How to create a CFF font?

To create a CFF you will need to take a series of steps that typically require specialized font design software and knowledge of font design principles:

  1. Start by designing your font’s characters. Sketch them by hand or use vector graphic design software to create digital versions of your glyphs. Each glyph should be created as a vector graphic with precise outlines.
  2. Choose a font editor that supports this format. Adobe Font Development Kit for OpenType (AFDKO) is a popular choice for working with CFF fonts.
  3. Create a new font project. Import or draw each glyph. Ensure that they are correctly designed and adjusted for proper spacing and alignment.
  4. Add metrics such as character widths (advance widths), sidebearings, and kerning pairs to ensure that the characters align correctly when typeset.
  5. If you want your font to render well at small sizes, add hinting instructions.
  6. Generate the CFF data. The software will convert your glyph outlines and font metrics into the CFF format.
  7. Thoroughly test your font to ensure that all characters render correctly and that spacing and kerning are accurate.
  8. Add font metadata such as the font name, copyright information, and other details in your font file.
  9. Use your font editor to export the CFF font data into an OpenType font file format with the .otf extension. This file will contain your CFF font data and font information.
  10. Validate your font files using font validation tools to check for any errors or issues.
  11. Distribute it for use in various applications, including design software and web projects.

How to optimize CFF files?

Optimizing CFF files is essential to ensure that your fonts are efficient, load quickly, and render correctly on different devices and platforms. This is what you may consider to do:

How to embed CFF fonts?

By following the next steps, you can embed CFF fonts into your PDF documents, preserving the integrity of your chosen typography and ensuring that your documents look as intended across different devices and platforms.

  1. Choose a PDF generation tool: Adobe Acrobat, Adobe InDesign, or Microsoft Word. But keep in mind that the tool should support font embedding.
  2. Create a new document or open an existing one.
  3. Type or insert text into your document using the CFF font you want to embed.
  4. Check the font embedding options in your PDF generation software.
  5. Select font embedding settings:
  1. Generate the PDF file(“Save as PDF” or “Export to PDF” option).
  2. Once the PDF is generated, open it with a PDF viewer. Navigate to the “File” menu, select “Properties” or “Document Properties,” and then look for the fonts section. Here the CFF font should be listed and marked as “Embedded” or “Embedded Subset.”

Where can I get CFF fonts?

CFF fonts may vary depending on the platform or marketplace, and some fonts may be available in multiple formats to cater to different design needs. Here are some examples of places where you can get these typefaces:

ResourceFunctionality provided
Adobe Fonts (Typekit)Adobe offers a wide range of CFF fonts that can be easily integrated into Adobe Creative Cloud applications.
LinotypeProvides a rich collection of CFF fonts along with other font formats.
MonotypeIs an extensive font library, including CFF fonts for both print and digital use, in a variety of styles and languages.
FontspringIs a font marketplace that offers CFF fonts for purchase.
Google FontsPrimarily offers web fonts in the WOFF and WOFF2 formats, but some of the fonts in their collection may also be available in CFF format.


Compact Font Format fonts are a mix of efficiency, precision, and quality in typography. Their compact file sizes, vector-based outlines, and support for hinting make them indispensable for professional use. While CFF fonts have thrived in PostScript and high-resolution output, they also find a place in the digital landscape with their integration into the OpenType format. As we navigate the ever-evolving typography landscape, CFF fonts stand as a testament to the enduring craftsmanship of font design, offering the timeless elegance and versatility that have made them a cornerstone of typographic excellence. Whether in print or on screen, CFF fonts remain a reliable choice.

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