Re: Unicode Fonts

From: Christopher John Fynn (
Date: Fri Mar 31 2000 - 00:40:28 EST

Suzanne Topping <>

> This comes from a question Joon posed recently. His exact question (off
> list) was: "...I am trying to figure out how many and which Unicode
> characters do not have a glyph on a Standard Unicode TrueType font."
> Pronunciation symbols seemed to be a particular problem.


I don't think there is such a thing as a "Standard" Unicode TrueType font.

Fonts which have glyphs for all, or nearly all, the characters in Unicode tend
to consume enormous resources, not properly support complex scripts, not have
e.g. Chinese and Japanese variant glyphs for CJK characters, and generally have
fairly crude glyph outlines for some scripts.

Much better to have a series of individual fonts specifically designed for the
scripts and languages covered by Unicode. For complex scripts fonts really need
to contain the proper OpenType (on Windows) or ATSUI (on Mac) tables and quite a
large number of ligature and variant glyphs which are accessed by the rendering
system via these tables depending on context etc.

A font which simply has one glyph corresponding to each Devanagri, Urdu,
Tibetan, etc. character in Unicode is useless for properly displaying these

Microsoft Windows "WGL4" fonts, including Times New Roman and Arial have glyphs
cover a sub-set of Unicode characters to support Microsoft's code pages 1250,
1251, 1252, 1253, and 1254. They cover Latin, Latin Extended A, basic Cyrillic
and basic Greek and some symbols and additional Latin characters (see

For a list of TT fonts which "support Unicode" (and the Unicode ranges they
cover) see:

- Chris

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