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Font embedding

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Font embedding is the inclusion of font files inside an electronic document. Font embedding is controversial because it allows licensed fonts to be freely distributed.

Table of contents
  1. History
  2. In word processors
  3. On the Web
  4. Controversy
  5. See also


Font embedding has been possible with Portable Document Format (PDF), Microsoft Word for Windows and some other applications for many years. LibreOffice supports font embedding since version 4.1 in its Writer, Calc and Impress applications.

In word processors

Microsoft Word for Windows has permitted font embedding in some document formats since Word 97 (such as .doc or .rtf). But this feature does not work correctly in some Word versions.

LibreOffice supports font embedding since version 4.1. This feature is available for the word processor LibreOffice Writer, the spreadsheet application LibreOffice Calc, and the presentation application LibreOffice Impress.

Both OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice support font embedding in the PDF export feature.

Font embedding in word processors is not widely supported nor interoperable. For example, if an RTF file with embedded fonts is opened in other word processor than MS Word, it will usually remove embedded fonts.

On the Web

Main article: Font embedding on the Web
Main article: Comparison of browser engines (typography support)

Currently, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Google Chrome support automatic downloading of fonts used on a website using CSS2 or CSS3.


Font embedding is a controversial practice because it allows copyrighted fonts to be freely distributed. The controversy can be mitigated by only embedding the characters required to view the document (subsetting). This reduces file size but prohibits adding previously unused characters to the document.

Because of the potential for copyright infringement, Microsoft Internet Explorer only permits embedded fonts that include digital rights management (DRM) protections. The Acid3 test requires font embedding with minimal DRM protections.

See also

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