Unicode Diacritic Fonts

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Unicode Diacritic Fonts


Transliteration of many Asian languages requires the use of special diacritic marks above or below the standard letters of the Roman alphabet. Tibetan religious texts often include substantial portions of transliterated Sanskrit, which when represented in Romanized transliteration require such diacritic marks. These can be displayed through a widening range of diacritic fonts. Until recently, diacritic fonts were encoded in ASCII and required multiple font files or code pages to render the full range of diacritics. The advent of Unicode has, on the other hand, provided a way for all the necessary diacritic characters to be contained in a single font, while Unicode’s increasing usage is evidence of its enduring viability. The Tibetan and Himalayan Library, therefore, strictly adheres to the Unicode standard. All diacritics displayed on our web pages are encoded in Unicode and require the user has a suitable Unicode font installed.

However, not all Unicode fonts contain the necessary characters. To properly display all the diacritic marks used in Indo-Tibetan studies, a Unicode font must contain the following character ranges:

These ranges cover all the diacritic characters represented in the diacritic chart, which contains those diacritics used in Indo-Tibetan studies apart from IPA symbols. The IPA symbols have their own Unicode block: U+0250 – U+02AF (external link: View Unicode Chart), and it is recommended that one choose a diacritic font which includes these as well. Several of the most useful fonts are listed below. More detailed information on Unicode fonts, their installation, use, and availability can be found at Alan Wood's Unicode Resources. For information on how to use Unicode fonts, see the Using Unicode Diacritic Fonts in Browsers page.

Available Unicode Diacritic Fonts

While Arial Unicode MS is the most comprehensive Unicode font and contains all the necessary diacritic characters necessary for Asian Studies, the Arial family of fonts is in general less aesthetically appealing then some of the other font family. For this reason, THL recommends the use of:

Note: In January 2009, John Smith released an updated version of his IndUni suite of Open-Type diacritic fonts in Unicode. These have not been assessed comprehensively in terms of screen, web, and printed appearance, but they appear to provide an adequate (or better) solution to the Unicode diacritic issue. The new version of the fonts may be found at external link: the IndUni website.

In 2011, Brill released “the Brill” Unicode typeface for open use, which presents complete coverage of the Latin script with the full range of diacritics and linguistics (IPA) characters used to display any language from any period correctly, and Greek and Cyrillic are also covered. There are over 5,100 characters in total, some of which are combining characters, and by using these, myriads of other characters with diacritics can be generated. This indispensable tool for scholars is now freely available for non-commercial use. You can download the font package on brill.nl/brill-typeface after agreeing to the EndUser License Agreement. “The Brill” is available now in roman and italic styles, and bold and bold italic will be released at a later stage. The typeface contains all necessary punctuation marks and a wide assortment of symbols. "John Hudson of Tiro Typeworks, well-known for his multilingual fonts, is "the Brill"'s designer. You can download the font on brill.nl/brill-typeface

Other Unicode Diacritic Fonts include:

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