Bitmap Font

What is Bitmap Font?

A bitmap font refers to the type of font where every character is stored as a set of pixels or dots. These pixels build symbols, also called glyphs, to make up a complete bitmap font.

Technically, a bitmap font is a set of pixels or a group of raster images of glyphs, where each variant of the font has a comprehensive set of glyph images. In other words, in this, each character is actually treated as a tiny black and white image.

Understanding Bitmap Font

What is Bitmap Font

A bitmap font typically refers to a printer or a screen font. The whole representation of every character of the font, usually stored in pixels, needs to be kept in the memory to display or print one such font.

Typically, the bitmap fonts are one of the three specific types of fonts used in a computer, the two other being:

There is usually an additional pattern of tiny dots for every individual character, which does not change.

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A bitmap font is also known (though less commonly) as:

These types of fonts are typically used when a compact yet fast-loading font is required.

Each full set of characters in a bitmap font refers to all of the following:

If any of these factors differ on a character or on a word, it will not be printed properly. In such a situation, the computer will have to load a second complete set of characters into its memory.

This type of font is used when a compact, fast-loading font is essential.

In a bitmap font, every set contains the image of every individual character. This means that, if there are three sizes of a font and a mixture of bold and italic, then there should be as many as 12 full sets of images.

The bitmap fonts can be characterized as follows:

Moreover, when the bitmap fonts are unscaled, they will invariably give the exact same output when presented on a display with the same specification. This is because the fonts will be fine-tuned so that they are displayed clearly.

Speaking of scaling, bitmap fonts are usually not scalable. If it is done, aliasing will come into effect.

It is the phenomenon where staircase distortions are seen at the edges or borders, called jaggies, making the letter look like it is torn up.


The bitmap fonts can come in different formats, such as:

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Bitmap Fonts Vs Outline Fonts

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Where are Bitmap Fonts Used?

Usually, the bitmap fonts are used in several applications such as the Windows recovery console, the Linux console, character LCDs, as well as in the embedded systems. It is also used sometimes in cross-stitch.

In addition to that, if you are still using an older dot matrix printer, it will also be using these bitmap fonts.

These are usually stored in the memory of the printer and are accessed and addressed by its driver while executing a print command.

It is also used in photographs taken by a digital camera or while scanning any image from a magazine.

What is an Example of Bitmap Font?

A few examples of bitmap fonts may include the MS Serif fonts provided in Windows and fixed-pitch Courier.

Usually, all the different variants of typefaces or fonts that you may see on the computer screen are bitmap fonts.

This is ideally the only way a computer is able to display the typeface on its screen because the screen itself consists of dots, or pixels.


So, after reading this article, you now know what bitmap fonts are, their uses, and their different features and formats.

You also know how they differ from the outline fonts, which are, however, more commonly used. Still, bitmap fonts are not replaced fully and are still used for several specific devices and purposes.