OpenType SVG Fonts in Print: Known Issues and Recommendations

by Laura


OpenType SVG (scalable vector graphics) fonts are nothing new. Initially intended for web-based design, OpenType SVG fonts are beginning to appear in printed works and are causing concern in the printing industry among designers, publishers, printers, and software companies alike.

About OpenType SVG fonts

Adobe describes OpenType SVG fonts as “a font format in which an OpenType font has all or just some of its glyphs represented as SVG (scalable vector graphics) artwork. This allows the display of multiple colors and gradients within a single glyph.” Because of these features, these fonts are also called “color fonts.” In addition to typeface fonts, this font also appears as Emojis (as you would see on smartphones).

OpenType SVG fonts in print

Despite being designed for the web and digital applications, this font type is making its way into printed works. This font type isn’t currently supported in PDFs, so there is a possibility that when a PDF is created, the font won’t render correctly.

Some software, such as Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, and InDesign CC, support OpenType SVG fonts, and the fonts are available with Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC subscriptions. While OpenType SVG fonts can be applied in the supported programs mentioned above, there are known issues (identified by Adobe) in Illustrator CC and InDesign CC (although the software teams are working on fixes to these). Issues that you may encounter include the following:

  • Glyphs may appear in the wrong positions after export to PDF.
  • When applying the Sheer, Rotate, or Reflect effects on color SVG fonts, the effects may be lost or the characters may move away from their original positions when the glyph outlines are created.
  • When setting text vertically, the character positions may appear different after exporting.
  • When setting text on spiral path placement, characters may appear incorrectly placed.
  • Glyphs may drop out.
  • If converted from color to black and white in a PDF, the appearance can change.


Trajan Color OpenTypeSVG

rajan Color Opentype SVG Font Example


Emoji One Color OpenType SVG

Emoji One Trajon Opentype SVG Font Example


At this time, printers are unable to detect the known issues mentioned above and cannot prevent these types of issues when the file is processed/ripped to print. Sheridan advises against the use of these types of fonts due to the known issues and risks that publishers and designers may encounter.

Additional Resources

Sheridan has several handy guides available to help prepare your files for print including one on how to Export to a PDF from Adobe InDesign CC 2018.