Every font has technological elements involving its glyph shapes, instructions for operating systems on how to render that font, and metadata. As foundries and type designers update and improve a font’s data and code, they create new versions of that font. There can be multiple versions of each font. Each version introduces something new to the existing font, such as error fixes or additional features.
Why are new font versions necessary?
Creating new font versions is necessary for several reasons. It allows type designers to make improvements to a font’s design, functionality, and technical aspects. New versions may include bug fixes, improved character spacing, additional language support, enhanced ligatures, or better hinting for on-screen rendering. Newer font versions may also be compatible with new software, ensuring optimal performance and rendering across different platforms.
How often do foundries release new font versions?
The frequency of font releases varies depending on the foundry and the specific font family. Some foundries may release new versions or updates more frequently, while others may have longer intervals between updates. The timeframe can range from several updates per year, to major updates every few years.
What is usually updated with the release of a new font version?
A new font version may come with a variety of updates, including:
Refinements to the design and visual aesthetics of characters
Optimized hinting instructions for improved on-screen rendering
Expanded character sets that include additional language support or special characters
Adjustments to spacing and kerning between characters
Changes to the font’s metadata or licensing information
Fixes for bugs or errors
Why should you use the latest version of a font?
In general, we recommend using the latest version of a font for several reasons. First, newer versions often include important improvements that enhance the font’s overall quality and functionality, leading to better legibility, improved rendering on different devices and operating systems, and increased compatibility with design software. Second, opting for the latest font version ensures that you benefit from all the bug fixes, security patches, and new features introduced since the previous release.
Why might you want to use an older version of a font?
There are a few scenarios in which using an older version of a font might be preferable. First, if you have a specific project that relies on the exact characteristics and appearance of an older version, continuing to use that version ensures consistency.
If design choices or layouts are based on the specific metrics of an older font version, updating to a newer version could alter the visual outcome and create reflow issues. Additionally, the newest version of a font could be incompatible with older software or systems, necessitating the use of an older font version that works seamlessly in your existing digital environment.
How can font version updates cause reflow issues?
Older documents may contain outdated versions of fonts. New versions of fonts often come with changes to metrics, kernings, weight, width, X-height, and more. These updates can cause unexpected changes in fonts’ behavior.
For instance, altering a font’s vertical metrics can cause reflow of the text in existing documents when they transition to a new version. This happens because when a font’s vertical metrics increase, the number of lines taken up by the same amount of text also increases, so existing text may no longer fit in its allocated space.
How can I prevent these reflow issues?
To prevent reflow issues caused by version updates, Monotype Fonts allows you to select the optimal font version for your project. You can use any version of a font that is available on Monotype Fonts. When you add a new font to a list, you can choose the default newest version or any older version that’s available. In addition, when a newer version is released, it won’t update automatically. You will be notified of the new version and can update it manually if desired.
The benefit of this is that if multiple users are using fonts in a certain list for a project, then you're all using the same version by default to avoid reflow issues; this means that automatic updates don’t disrupt your work. Your library’s font list page will alert you when any new versions are available, so you’ll know when you have the option to update. Font version details will also be available, highlighting the updates that have been made and the differences between versions so that you have the information you need to choose the right version.
How can I update the font versions in my font list?
Here’s how you can update the version of a font in your font list:
Click the drop-down arrow to the right of the “Sync” button for the font you would like to update.
Click “Manage versions” in the dropdown list to open the font version information window.
The available font versions will be listed in chronological order, with the most recent version listed first and the oldest version listed last.
The version of the font you are currently using will be pre-selected. To change it, simply select the version you would like to switch to.
Where can I find details about different font versions?
Details about different font versions can be found on Monotype’s font family and font list pages. (Note that there will only be version details for fonts that have more than one version.) Here’s how to find details about font versions on font family and font list pages:
Click the drop-down arrow to the right of the “Sync” button for the font row you’d like to learn more about.
Click “Manage versions” in the dropdown list to open the version information window.
At the top right of the window with the “Add to” feature, there is a dropdown that allows you to select any font format for which you would like to see the font version details. These details provide insight into the updates that come with a specific font version (e.g., changes to character design, expanded language support, or bug fixes), so you can make an informed choice regarding which font format to use.
Other frequently asked questions
Who can update the versions in the font lists?
The creators and owners of the font list can update the versions in the font lists.
Can I add any older version of a font to my font lists?
Yes, you can add the older version of a font to your font lists via the version information window.
Can I sync/download older versions of fonts?
Yes, add the desired version of the font to your font list and then sync/download it from the font list page.
Is font version management available for imported fonts?
No, font version management is unavailable for fonts imported into Monotype Fonts.
Do I have to reshare a font list after updating the font version? Will users have to resync their fonts?
No, you don't have to reshare a font list after the versions are updated into a list, but users do have to resync the list to get the updated version on their computers. When updating an asset (e.g., adding/removing fonts or updating font formats/versions in a font list or web project), there is no need to reshare that asset, as it will automatically update for whomever it is shared with. However, users will have to resync the font if there is any update to the font list; to indicate whether the font has been synced, the color of the sync button next to that font will change from green (synced) to blue (unsynced).