You can find many font formats with names like OpenType, Mac TrueType, Windows TrueType, PostScript Type 1, bitmap, and dfont. No problem — OS X supports them all. In fact, the only font format that Mountain Lion doesn’t support is PostScript Type 3.

That said, the three most common formats for Macs are TrueType, PostScript Type 1, and OpenType.

  • TrueType fonts: These standard-issue Apple fonts come with OS X. They’re in common use on Macs as well as on Windows machines. That’s partly because these fonts are scalable: They use only a single outline per font, and your Mac can make their characters bigger or smaller when you choose a font size in a program.

  • Type 1 fonts: These fonts are often referred to as PostScript Type 1 fonts, and they’re the standard for desktop publishing on the Mac (as well as Windows and Unix). Tens of thousands of Type 1 fonts are available. (Not nearly as many high-quality TrueType fonts exist.)

    Type 1 fonts come in two pieces:

    • A suitcase file to hold the bitmap that tells the computer how to draw the font on your screen.

    • A printer font that tells the printer how to print the font on a page.

    Some Type 1 fonts come with two, three, or four printer fonts, which usually have related names. Just keep all the parts together, and they should just work.

  • OpenType fonts: OpenType fonts are really TrueType fonts in which PostScript information is embedded. This gives you the greater typographic control that high-end typesetters require while keeping the one-file convenience of TrueType. OpenType is one of the most popular file formats and the one favored by most major type vendors including Adobe and Linotype.