Fonts Working Group Charter [PROPOSED]

The mission of the Fonts Working Group, part of the Fonts Activity, is to develop a specification (a “policy language”) to allow OpenType fonts to be embedded in Web documents in accordance with the fonts' licenses.

End date 30 March 2010
Confidentiality Public
Initial Chairs Steve Zilles (Adobe), Simon Daniels (Microsoft)
Initial Team Contacts
(FTE %: 30)
Bert Bos, Chris Lilley
Meeting Schedule weekly telcons, two ftf meetings


The goal of the working group is to allow OpenType fonts to be embedded in Web documents, in particular (but not exclusively) in documents that can refer to fonts via W3C's Web Fonts technology. Currently, Web Fonts is part of CSS and SVG.

Embedded in this case means that the font is logically or physically tied to the document. In this case, that is achieved with a bi-directional link between the document and the font resource: The Web Fonts technology defines how to link (the style sheet for) a document to a font and this WG will define a (currently still nameless) mechanism that links an OpenType font to a document (or site) for which the font was made.

Web Fonts allows links to font resources that do not permit links back; we say that such fonts are linked, rather than embedded. E.g., some User Agents currently support links to standard OpenType files. Embedded fonts can exist alongside linked ones and a User Agent may support both. Indeed, both types may be used in the same document. The working group is not expected to define rules for font linking, since this is already adequately specified in CSS.

Some font licenses require the font to be embedded, others allow both embedding and linking, leaving the choice to the document's author (and yet others allow neither).

Examples of embedding technologies are “rooted fonts” and EOT.

The embedding technology must be such that an embedded font can retain all the typographic quality of OpenType (e.g., features such as glyph variants and glyph rearrangement) and an embedded font can be subsetted (e.g., all ideographs can be left out to make the font smaller if a document doesn't need them). It should also be simple to use and easy to implement.

The working group should address at least the following issues:

Success Criteria

The working group aims to make a W3C Recommendation, which also requires developing a test suite. The Recommendation should be implemented (both renderers and authoring tools) on at least two different platforms.

The group may organize one or more workshops or meetings to gather feedback, to coordinate implementations, etc. One goal is also to continue the dialog with font designers, font resellers and graphic designers.


The expected deliverables are:

The group may also need to register an Internet Media Type for embedded fonts.

Other Deliverables

The working group will review the Web Fonts specification (which is expected to be developed by the CSS and/or SVG working groups).


Specification transition estimates and other milestones

Deliverable Feb 2009 Mar 2009 Apr 2009 Sep 2009 Nov 2009 Jan 2010 Feb 2010 Mar 2010
Requirements WD LC Note
Authoring guidelines WD LC Note
Specification WD LC CR PR REC
Test suite Test

The group will document significant changes from this initial schedule on the group home page.


W3C Groups

The SVG and CSS groups are cooperating on the Web Fonts specification. Web Fonts uses a set of descriptors (in either CSS or XML syntax) that specify the location (URL) and other metadata of a font sufficiently to allow the font to be downloaded and applied to a document. It is not specific to the embedding technology of the Fonts WG, nor does that technology rely on Web Fonts, but Web Fonts and embedding are meant to be compatible.
The XSL WG has published requirements for XSL 2.0 which include Web Fonts technology. Embedded fonts might be used with XSL 2.0 processors.
The Policy Languages Interest group is the forum to discuss use cases, languages, and frameworks around information governance policies. The links from a font resource to a document define a (very simple) policy for handling a font license and thus the Fonts WG can likely benefit from the PLING.
I18N Core WG
The Internationalization Core WG will review the proposed specification, and assist where possible with international concerns. They may also contribute tests.

External groups

This ISO working group maintains and develops OpenType.
The font design community
As mentioned under “Success Criteria.”


Effective participation to the Working Group is expected to consume 0.2 fte (one work day per week) for each participant; 0.4 fte (two days per week) for editors.

The working group may apply the Good Standing requirements of the W3C Process.


This group primarily conducts its work on the public mailing list <www-font@w3.org> and may also use the member-only mailing list <w3c-fonts-wg@w3.org>.

Information about the group (deliverables, participants, face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, etc.) is available from the Working Group home page.

The group holds weekly, one-hour teleconferences and two face-to-face meetings. The group may meet more or less frequently as needed.

Decision policy

As explained in the Process Document (section 3.3), this group will seek to make decisions by consensus. When the Chair puts a question and observes dissent, after due consideration of different opinions, the Chair should record a decision (possibly after a formal vote) and any objections, and move on.

This charter is written in accordance with section 3.4, Votes of the W3C Process Document and includes no voting procedures beyond what the Process Document requires.

Patent policy

This Working Group operates under the W3C Patent Policy (5 February 2004 version). To promote the widest adoption of Web standards, W3C seeks to issue Recommendations that can be implemented, according to this policy, on a Royalty-Free basis.

For more information about disclosure obligations for this group, please see the W3C Patent Policy Implementation.

About this charter

This charter for the Working Group has been created according to section 6.2 of the Process Document. In the event of a conflict between this document or the provisions of any charter and the W3C Process, the W3C Process takes precedence.

Bert Bos

Created: 5 May 2008
Modified: $Date: 2008/12/04 01:06:45 $