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Printer fonts overview

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Printer fonts overview

Most programs that support printing allow you to choose from a number of different fonts. Printers offering the widest assortment of fonts include laser, ink-jet, and dot-matrix printers. They support a fixed set of resident fonts, which you can expand by installing font cartridges or loading fonts from software.

  • Internal fonts (resident fonts) are used most often by laser, dot-matrix, and ink-jet printers. Pre-loaded into the printer's memory (ROM), internal fonts are always available for printing.

  • Cartridge fonts are stored in a cartridge or a card that plugs into the printer.

  • Downloadable fonts are sets of characters sent from the computer to a printer's memory when needed for printing. Also called soft fonts, downloadable fonts are used most often with laser printers and other page printers, although some dot-matrix printers also use them. Clients that use downloadable fonts and that print to Windows print servers should install the fonts locally to increase the printing speed.

For each document you print, Windows may need to send the required screen and downloadable fonts to the printer. To increase printing speed, use fonts that do not need to be downloaded (such as internal fonts or cartridge fonts). Some printers have the ability to keep a list of downloadable fonts. If your printer supports this feature, enable it to increase printing speed. Not all printers can use all three types of fonts. Pen plotters, for example, cannot normally use downloadable fonts. For more information on the types of fonts you can use, see your printer's operating manual.

For information about installing fonts, see Install or remove external PCL soft fonts.

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