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Chapter 5. Text > Organization and Use of Fonts

5.1. Organization and Use of Fonts

A character is an abstract symbol, whereas a glyph is a specific graphical rendering of a character. For example, the glyphs A, A, and A are renderings of the abstract “A” character. Historically these two terms have often been used interchangeably in computer typography (as evidenced by the names chosen for some PDF dictionary keys and PostScript operators), but advances in this area have made the distinction more meaningful. Consequently, this book distinguishes between characters and glyphs, though with some residual names that are inconsistent.

Glyphs are organized into fonts. A font defines glyphs for a particular character set; for example, the Helvetica and Times fonts define glyphs for a set of standard Latin characters. A font for use with a PDF consumer application is prepared in the form of a program. Such a font program is written in a special-purpose language, such as the Type 1 or TrueType font format, that is understood by a specialized font interpreter.


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