Chinese Fonts & Related Issues

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Chinese Fonts & Related Issues



Windows Resources for Chinese Fonts

  1. external link: Simplified Fonts for Windows
  2. external link: Traditional Fonts for Windows
  3. external link: Download Arial Unicode MS
  4. external link: Download Bitstream Cyberbit

Macintosh Resources for Chinese Fonts

  1. external link: Simplified Fonts for OS 9
  2. external link: Traditional Fonts for OS 9
  3. external link: Simplified Fonts for OS X
  4. external link: Traditional Fonts for OS X

General Unicode Resources

  1. external link: Alan Wood's Unicode Pages
  2. external link: Unicode Home Page

Chinese Unicode Resources

  1. external link: Debian Wiki's Unifonts page
  2. external link: Alan Wood on CJK Compatibility
  3. external link: About Chinese Character Encoding


There are three major encodings for Chinese fonts, two legacy encodings and Unicode. (As the Chinese characters are intimately related to the Japanese and Korean characters, the common character set for these three languages is often called CJK.) The two legacy encodings are Big5 and Guobiao (abbreviated GB). Big5 is used mainly for Traditional Chinese characters and is widely used in Taiwan and Hong Kong. GB is usually used for Simplified Chinese that is the standard for mainland China. GB has gone through several revisions. The latest is GB2312. However, neither the Big5 nor the GB encoding scheme can handle both Traditional and Simplified Chinese characters. On the other hand, the latest world-wide standard, external link: Unicode, has provided code pages for each separately so that a single font can contain both sets of characters. Yet, the legacy encodings still dominate Chinese computing. This is due to the fact that the Big5 and Guobiao had already developed a large user-base prior to the advent of Unicode.

For viewers interested in either viewing web-pages with Chinese text or for using Chinese on their personal computer, it is necessary to have an adequate Chinese font installed on one's computer. The policy of THL is to use Unicode fonts, whenever possible, because Unicode provides a unique, unambiguated encoding for a majority of the world's languages. Any pages on the THL site that contain Chinese text will be encoded in Unicode. Thus, any Unicode Chinese font will work for displaying these pages. Some interesting discussions on Unicode in general and Chinese Unicode in particular may be found on the Unicode & Chinese Font Resources page.

Because each operating system deals with fonts in different ways, recommended fonts for two of the most prevalent operating systems (Windows and Mac) are given below.

Windows Chinese Fonts

The best way to enable support for Chinese and Unicode on Windows 2000 & XP is to select "Install files for East Asian Languages". To do this, go to Settings > Control Panel > Regional & Language Options > Languages tab > Supplemental Language Support and click on "Install files for East Asian Languages". Then enable support for both "Traditional Chinese" ["Chinese (Taiwan)"] and "Simplified Chinese" ["Chinese (PRC)"] input, by going to Settings > Control Panel > Regional & Language Options> Languages tab. From there click on Text Services & Input Languades > Details… > Settings tab > Installed Services, Add… , "Chinese (Taiwan)" and "Chinese (PRC)" .

The Microsoft font Tahoma has support for both Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese characters.

One of the most comprehensive Unicode fonts for Windows is Microsoft's Arial Unicode MS. However, the size of the font is 14 megabytes, which can restrict downloading for users with slower connections. One can download Arial Unicode MS at for the link to the left.

A smaller but adequate font is Bitstream Cyberbit. This font is only 6.3 megabytes which makes downloading considerably faster. Because of the size of the Chinese character set, all Chinese fonts are relatively large. Bitstream Cyberbit can also be downloaded from a link in the list to the left.

A number of different IME's for Chinese are available for installation, including a "Chinese (Traditional) Unicode" IME which allows you to enter characters by their Unicode value.

For instructions on configuring Microsoft's Internet Explorer for Unicode, including East Asian scripts, see: external link:

To work with Chinese characters beyond plane 0 of the Unicode standard (Unicode CJK Extension A and B*) it is also necessary to install external link: Microsoft's GB18030 support package for Windows 2000 & XP. This package includes a large (12 MB) Chinese font (SimSun18030.ttc).

Macintosh Chinese Fonts

Full implementation of Unicode arrived to the Mac environment with OS X. This version comes with a Unicode Chinese font and requires no special adjustments for display. For OS 9, one will need to have the Chinese language kit installed. This is supplied on the OS 9 CD. For more information, see the Platform-Specific Resources For Chinese page.

Provided for unrestricted use by the external link: Tibetan and Himalayan Library