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In order to create an outline version of a bitmap font or image, a program
must use a special algorithm to try to determine what the original intent
of the bitmap was.  If you look at the letter 'o' in the topaz font, you
will know based on past experience that the corners are meant to be curved.
The computer cannot make such a determination without assistance in the
form of a tracing engine.  The problem is that without many
pixels, the computer cannot extrapolate the original meaning of the
graphic.  If you only have a few pixels to define a corner of an image, the
computer cannot determine whether the corner is meant to be a curve, angled
edge, or simply a hard corner that wasn't well defined (or anti-aliased).

Autotracing tends to work best when you are dealing with a large
high-resolution scan.