FontForge -- An outline font editor
that lets you create your own postscript, truetype, opentype, cid-keyed,
multi-master, cff, svg and bitmap (bdf, FON, NFNT) fonts, or edit existing
ones. Also lets you convert one format to another. FontForge has support
for many macintosh font formats.
FontForge's user interface has been localized for: (English), Russian, Japanese,
French, Italian, Spanish, Vietnamese, Greek, Simplified & Traditional
Chinese, German, Polish, Ukrainian and Catalan.
This website itself has been translated into Japanese
and the tutorial into traditional Chinese
. Translations are often out of date, I fear.
I have no one to do QA for me except users on the net, so this is essentially
(and eternally) beta software. Expect to find bugs. Please
let me know when you do (this is a public mailing list).
FontForge is free software, distributed under the
GNU General Public License version 3,
or, at your option, any later version.
There are currently three mailing lists established for FontForge. You may
subscribe to any of them on sourceforge:
You may not post to a list until you have subscribed (sorry about that, but
we were getting too much spam).
Caveat: Posting to these mailing lists exposes
your email address.
FontForge is by no means perfect. And probably has some bugs. Be prepared
to save frequently and consider working on a copy of the original.
No attempt has been made to be efficient.
Many type 3 fonts will not be read in correctly
Importing a type0 font loses the encoding. FontForge only imports simple
type0 fonts (such as those made by itself), will get confused if there's
more than one font with a chars dictionary.
FontForge's does not support contextual ligatures for Apple Advanced Typography
There are a number of opentype/AAT tables which FontForge does NOT support.
|O, don't the days seem lank and long
When all goes right and nothing goes wrong,
And isn't your life extremely flat
With nothing whatever to grumble at!
Princess Ida, Act III, W.S. Gilbert (& Sullivan)
This list includes the gross bugs that I'm aware of but don't know how to
fix. Minor bugs get reported to me and are generally fixed within a week
and rarely appear on this list.
Some truetype fonts (kaiu and mingliu) do not store the correct outline.
Instead they rely on using the instructions to move points around to generate
the outline. The outline does not appear to be grid-fit at all, just positioned.
FontForge does not apply the instructions when loading. In most fonts this
would be the wrong thing to do, and I don't know how I could tell when it
needs to be done...
After adding the Johab encoding 23/Nov/01, any old fonts (in sfd files) which
had a unicode encoding will suddenly claim to have a Johab encoding. I don't
see a way around this at the moment. Just reencode them as unicode and all
should be well.
I'm told AutoKern doesn't work too well. (I may have fixed this, but
I'm not sure)
FontForge is confused by small splines, on the order of one em unit. If you
need something that small, scale the font up by a factor of 2 or more (including
the ascent and descent).
There is a fundamental problem when importing a type3 font (or an eps file).
In an most postscript programs each contour is stroked or filled individually,
but in a type1 character, all contours are filled together. This can lead
to unexpected side-effects if contours overlap. (configuring fontforge for
mutlilayered editing can help with this)
On linux boxes the dashed lines representing hints or the outlines of references
get screwed up. I think this is a bug in the XServer on linux (it doesn't
happen on other systems) but I have not examined it closely.
FontForge will not copy and paste large (>XServer transfer (4Meg on my
machine)) clipboards of text.
Under gnome mnemonics in menus don't work. Personally I consider this a bug
Under gnome, docked palettes don't work the first time. Personally I consider
this a bug in gnome.
FontForge only produces an approximation to the OS/2 Codepages fields.
Some commands don't work well in extreme
I'm sure you'll find some. If you can isolate it and come up with a reproducible
minimal case, that would be great. If your executable has symbols in it,
you could run it in gdb and get a stack trace... Give me a test case if possible.
Do what you can.
My writing leaves much to be desired. Anyone who can make my
documentation more readable is encouraged to do so. (or who wishes to translate
it into other languages, or who wishes to put it into a more flexable format,
KANOU has a Japanese version)
I also have a brief tutorial in pdf
format and in html. This could also
be translated into other languages (and would be a simpler job than trying
to translate the entire website). The html has been translated into
The UI can be translated into different languages. FontForge now
uses gnu gettext. See the section on
translation notes for more info.
English I take care of
(I've even got an en_GB file for those differences I've noticed between British
& US spellings, but if anyone with a sharper eye finds other differences,
please let me know)
Russian is provided by Alexandre
Prokoudine, originally by Valek Filippov.
Last Update Aug 2012
Japanese is provided by KANOU Hiroki. (and has translated the entire website)
This needs to be updated!
Last Update Jul 2006
French is provided by Pierre Hanser and Yannis Haralambous.
Last update Nov 2007
Italian was provided by Claudio Beccari, but I can no longer contact him.
This needs to be updated!
Last update Feb 2003
Spanish is provided by Walter Echarri
This needs to be updated!
Last update Oct 2004
Vietnamese is provided by
Last update Apr 2010
Simplified Chinese is provided by Lee Chenhwa
Last update Jun 2012
Traditional Chinese is provided by Wei-Lun Chao at
Last update May 2012
Wei-ju Wu has translated the tutorial into German
Philipp Poll is providing a German UI.
Last update Apr 2007
Michal Nowakowski is constantly updating the Polish translation.
Last update Jul 2012
Apostolos Syropoulos is
working on a Greek translation
Last update Oct 2008
Serhij Dubyk has provided a Ukrainian translation, his last update was May-2009.
Then Yuri Chornoivan took it further.
Last update Jul 2012
Rafael Ferran i Peralta provided a Catalan translation.
Last update Jun 2011
Any other language additions would be great (the entire UI does not need
to be translated, any subset is a help), if you are interested see the
translation notes here.
You can take over a chunk of the code:
Michal Nowakowski and Alexej Kyukov have taken over the auto instructor and
Different font formats
FontForge supports Type1, truetype, opentype, cff, type42, cid-keyed and
svg fonts, also bdf and NFNT for bitmaps
FontForge will sort-of accept metafont files (essentially it runs metafont
and autotraces the result). It won't produce .mf files
FontForge will read (but not produce) Ikarus files
FontForge will read acorn font files with a helper app.
But there are other formats out there that I can't find descriptions of or
don't think are worth supporting
Can you point me at documentation for other standards
Can you explain why that format is useful?
There are certain commands which don't
work very well and if someone else wanted to they might code them better
Remove overlap (has problems with coincident splines)
Expand Stroke (has problems when there are sharp bends near the end of a
contour (or near a joint where the slope is discontinuous) -- a sharp bend
is one where the radius of curvature is smaller than half the stroke-width)
Autokern (might be fixed now)
Change Weight & Condense/Extend make assumptions about glyphs that aren't
I'd like to provide a reasonable bibliography, please suggest some good relevant
Are there any other programs or websites that I should be mentioning?
I find QA boring, and since no one is paying me for this I don't do very
much (I generally run it past my testsuite from time to time). This is obviously
a problem. If anyone (or several anyones) wants to undertake to do QA
for me I'd be
delighted (this is a public mailing list).
I'm always on the look out for short copyright free texts for printing. I'm
looking for samples from languages I don't have anything on, or in styles
that I don't have.
I'm also interested in phrases equivalent to "The quick brown fox jumps over
the lazy dog." (pangrams). These are short sentences which use every letter
in the script.
Indic languages have a series of special ligature features in opentype. I
believe that FontForge could probably generate some of these by default but
I don't know enough to say which. If you are familiar with Indic scripts
could you give me a list of conversions in a format like
U+0066 + U+0069 => U+FB01 'liga'
The sample text in File->Print comes from many
The following people have helped debug fontforge. Many thanks! (actually
the list should be far longer than this, but as time goes on there are just
too many people to thank)
University of California, Santa Barbara
(which has several times let me use some of their machines to do builds and
find bugs if I didn't have the requisite system at home).
Dung Ta Quang
Andrey V. Panov
Edward G.J. Lee
Huw Davies of CodeWarriors who showed me how to generate a windows fon format.
And many others!
Michal Nowakowski in Poland and Alexej Kryukov of Moscow State University
have taken over TrueType and PostScript autohinting and are doing a far better
job than I could have.
Ben Weiner from Reading provided
the banner image of blocks of real type. The type face is Imprint, created
by Monotype (UK).
I owe David Turner (and everyone else) of
FreeType a debt for providing an API
which allows me to debug truetype instructions. Also he came up with the
FontForge was inspired by AltSys's
now rescued from MacroMedia by FontLab. Godfrey DiGiorgi encouraged me to
buy my first copy of Fontographer in the mid-80s.
My father inspired a general interest in typography (though he is interested
in renaissance printing techniques rather than computers).
And finally I owe thanks to Linda Dozier, David Cole and everyone at NaviSoft
which company has given me the free time to write this program.
gbdfed Bitmap Font Editor
Formerly called xmbdfed
gfe -- GNU font editor.
Eventually supposed to support other formats
fstobdf -- Part of the X distribution, reads a font from the server and generates
a bdf file from it.
PostScript/ttf font editors
MetaFont -- Knuth's font generation which produces bitmaps from a program
based on splines (& other TeX utilities)
(available with the TeX package)
the metafont language to produce PostScript pictures.
Which attempts to generate a type1 font directly from the metafont splines
MetaFog -- Part of TrueTeX
(proprietary) another mf->outline
TeXTrace, generates pfb fonts from
TeX fonts by rasterizing at high res and then autotracing them
mftrace, traces pk fonts (bitmap
images) and creates pfb/pfa files. (formerly called pktrace)
gfontview -- displays a
-- another font displayer
t1utils -- Type 1 utility programs
& multiple master utilities
-- helps to install type 1 fonts under X and ghostscript
ttf2pt1 -- Converts truetype
to type1 postscript fonts and generates hints
ttftot42 -- Converts
truetype to type42 postscript fonts.
type1fix -- (part of the TeXtrace package).
Used to make some Type1 fonts work with ATM.
-- Type 1 decoders and converters. True Type & open type decoder.
Rogier C van Dalen has written
a set of utilities for viewing
and hinting truetype fonts
Peter Baker has a programming language called
xgridfit for hinting truetype fonts.
It is also available bundled with his
Xgridfit aims to relieve some of the tedium of instructing fonts by providing
such amenities as named points, control values, variables and functions,
high-level programming structure, and automatic management of stack and reference
TTX provides a
way of editing all the strange tables in an opentype font (by converting
them from/to XML)
Microsoft provides a bunch of stuff (for Windows only of course)
And Adobe provides a
Font Developer Kit
(mostly for setting opentype tables I think)
does too (mac only)
And some OS/X
tools (mac only)
Other font creation tools
Font manipulation libraries
Other font tools of mine
fondu -- Unwraps fonts from mac resource
files (this includes dfonts). Produces ttf, pfb and bdf files for 'sfnt',
'POST' and 'NFNT' resources
mensis -- Allows the user much finer
control over some truetype tables than is provided by FontForge.
-- Dumps the contents of a truetype/opentype font. Does some error checking
-- Reads a pcl file (to go to an HP printer) and extracts any truetype or
bitmap fonts in it. (the bitmap fonts become bdf files, the truetype fonts
become ttf files).
Unicode Font Guide for Free/Libre
Open Source Operating Systems
Other related links...
If you know of a tool you think should be on this list, please
let me know (this
is a public mailing list). I did my research a couple of years ago and expect
it is out of date.
DejaVu -- extension of bitstream Vera
to cyrillic & greek and other alphabets.
Free UCS Outline
Fonts -- A set of free OpenType fonts covering ISO 10646/Unicode character
Computer Modern Unicode
-- Outline based version of Knuth's TeX fonts, extended to unicode.
-- A free (GPL) font especially for scholars working with European medieval
TypeForge -- a site for collaborative
Linux Libertine -- A
replacement for the Times font family
Open Font Library -- Collecting
libre/open fonts in one place for easy use