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Unicode Font Guide For Free/Libre Open Source Operating Systems

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Latest News

  • 2007.03.23. Unifont.org's Font Guide now has an RSS Feed so you can keep up with all of the latest news in the FLOSS font world!
  • 2007.02.28. Dugan Chen has kindly updated the download shell script (see A new tool for the impatient on this page) so that it works properly on modern *nix distributions like Ubuntu. Thanks, Dugan!
  • 2007.02.27. Ekushey.org Bengali font site has been updated. See the South Asia section.
  • 2007.02.26. SIL has announced completion of the Open Font License v. 1.1.
  • 2007.01.08. Samuel Thibault has released a Tagbanwa font under a Creative Commons license. See Philippine Scripts in the Southeast Asia section for details.
  • 2006.12.18. The Parabaik Unicode Project has just released Parabaik Sans Myanmar Unicode font under the OFL and GPL licenses. The project has also released a keyboard layout. See the Southeast Asia section for details.
  • 2006.11.24. Greek Font Society and Vangelis Makridakis' Greek fonts added. See the Europe section.
  • 2006.09.20. Uyghur Computer Science Association (UKIJ) fonts added in the East Asia section.
  • 2006.09.15. Libertine Open Font version 2.1.9 is now available under both the OFL and GPL licenses.


This is a selective guide to Unicode-based fonts and script projects that are ideal for free/libre/open source (FLOSS) operating systems like GNU/Linux and FreeBSD. As a general policy, I include here only fonts that:

  • Contain Unicode CMAPs for mapping Unicode values to glyphs.
  • Can be downloaded and used legally for free.

Preference is given to high-quality vector fonts that have been released under SIL International's Open Font License (OFL), the Free Software Foundation's GNU General Public License (GPL), and similarly open licenses. I also include other important Unicode fonts, including a few notable shareware fonts where the authors request payment of a fee after an initial free evaluation. Although this document focuses on vector fonts that work well on free operating systems, these fonts will also work well on Unicode-capable Windows operating systems (Windows 2000 and XP) and on Apple OSX.

Please note that other, more extensive online font guides do exist. In particular Alan Wood's Unicode fonts for Windows computers is an extensive resource which covers commercial, shareware, and free fonts. In contrast to Mr. Wood's site, I have focused on Open Source, non-governmental organization (NGO), and government-sponsored font and script initiatives that aim to facilitate computing in national and indigenous languages throughout the world.

Some of the included font projects provide numerous fonts. In these cases, I have also tried to include images of a representative sample of the available fonts. For many of the sample font images, I have used the first article of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which has been translated into hundreds of languages. If you want to compare translations of just the first article, try Xavier Nègre's excellent déclaration universelle des droits de l'homme page at www.lexilogos.com.

Instructions on installing these fonts on GNU/Linux and similar free operating systems are provided on our main Unicode page. Note that many fonts are packaged in .zip files for the convenience of Windows users. Under free Unices, just use the unzip utility from your terminal. Some fonts are packaged in self-extracting .exe packages for Windows. Here again you can simply use the unzip utility since the .exe basically consists of a short executable stub with the zipped font files attached to it.

DownloadFonts.sh: A Convenient Tool for the Impatient

If today you are feeling impatient and wish that you could just download all the fonts referenced on this site while blithely sipping your coffee or tea -- well now you can almost do just that by using this simple DownloadFonts.sh shell script. The script will download a large set of the very best FLOSS international fonts referenced on this site. The script requires that you have the wget, tar, and unzip utilities, as well as the fontforge font editor. The script will download font files to a fonts subdirectory under the current working directory.

The shell script has been recently revised by Dugan Chen and now supports resuming downloads after broken sessions. Thanks, Dugan! Go ahead and give it a try -- this is by far the fastest way to gather the best international FLOSS fonts from all across the planet.


As time has gone on and this site has become increasingly popular, more and more people have contributed by suggesting new fonts, updating me on changed links, or informing me of fonts that have switched over to SIL's new OFL license. Thanks to everyone for helping to keep this site up-to-date with current information!

I would also like to thank Ritu Khanna and Monisha Sharma for their generous help with testing and preparing the Indic font samples which appear in the South Asian section of this guide. Dugan Chen also deserves special mention for taking my half-baked shell script for downloading fonts and turning it into something more useful.

Work In Progress ...

This page is under a state of constant construction, especially due to the fact that recently there has been more and more Open Source font activity. Please continue to send me news and information about new Open Source font releases that are of interest to the Open Source development and user communities at large.

Also note that these pages still have some gaps, especially for minority scripts which have only recently been added into Unicode. In some cases, I have not yet had time to research a script thoroughly. In other cases, I have researched a script, but not yet found any GPL'ed or otherwise liberally licensed fonts for that script. Additional information to help fill in the gaps will be greatly appreciated.

- Ed Trager, Ann Arbor, Michigan, January 02, 2005.
<ed dot trager at gmail dot com>
Last updated 2008.01.10.ET

Pan-Unicode Fonts

Pan-Unicode fonts are large fonts that cover a significant number of script blocks defined by the Unicode standard. Pan-Unicode fonts are useful if you occasionally work with other languages and don't feel like installing a large number of script-specific fonts.

One disadvantage of pan-Unicode fonts are that glyphs from different scripts are often not aesthetically integrated across script blocks. Secondly, since it is nearly impossible for one or a few font designers to have been thoroughly schooled in the typographic traditions of numerous cultures and nations, glyphs in some of the script blocks may be of lower technical or aesthetic quality than glyphs in other script blocks. Finally, differences in national typographic traditions can lead to situations where glyphs which are adequate in one country appear odd or inappropriate in another country. For example, glyphs that are ideal for writing Arabic in Egypt are very likely not ideal for writing Urdu in Pakistan, even though both languages share the same basic alphabet. Similarly, even though the assignment of code points for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean characters of Chinese origin has been unified in Unicode, the glyph forms of Japanese Kanji may be inappropriate for writing Chinese in Mainland China, and vice-versa. For these reasons, if you use a certain subset of scripts or national script variants frequently, it is better in the long run to obtain fonts designed to cover those scripts or national variants specifically. Take a look at the tabbed pages that follow to find various script-specific or region-specific fonts.

Why We Don't Really Need Pan-Unicode Fonts Anymore

Several factors have emerged in recent years which, in my mind, have greatly reduced the perceived necessity and utility of the Pan-Unicode fonts.

First, an increasing number of free and liberally-licensed Unicode fonts of very high quality for specific scripts and specific uses (such as scholarly) have been released by dedicated groups and individuals. The existence of George Williams' Open Source FontForge outline font editor has certainly played an important role in the democratization of typography. One need only take a cursory look at some of the excellent work being done by a diverse spectrum of organizations --like SIL International, The Tibetan & Himalayan Digital Library, or the Khmer Software Initiative-- and individual people --like Christopher Harvey's work on fonts for native American languages at LanguageGeek.com, Paul Morrow's work on Babayin at Sarisari Filipino History, or Firefly and Qianqian Fang's contributions to Open Source Chinese fonts-- to realize how true this is.

Secondly, the flexibility of Keith Packard's Fontconfig library allows the construction via simple XML-based configuration files of virtual font sets (such as "sans" and "serif") which can do a better job than any one Pan-Unicode font can at covering the Unicode code space with high-quality glyphs coming out of projects such as those highlighted in the previous paragraph.

We have now arrived at a historic turning-point in the evolution of Open Source digital typography and, in the broader context, of Open Source systems in general. The (typographically-inclined) salamanders have emerged from the depauperate Jurassic morass and, inspired by the fresh possibilities of a new era, a diverse Creataceous flowering of free, high-quality fonts is emerging to fill every niche and ecosystem.

Pan-Unicode fonts may still be useful as fall-back fonts of last resort, but clearly their role in any kind of high-quality typographic endeavour is now much reduced.

GNU FreeFont Project GPL

The GNU FreeFont project provides serif, sans-serif, and mono-spaced Unicode OpenType typefaces originally descended from the old URW++ Nimbus typefaces. The project has now added numerous scripts and symbol blocks primarily by borrowing glyphs from other freely licensed fonts en masse. Script coverage includes the International Phonetic Alphabet, Braille, Cyrillic, Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Thaana, Syriac, Ethiopian, Armenian, Georgian, Devanagari, Bengali, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Sinhala, Tamil, Malayalam, Mongolian, Tai Le, Thai, Cherokee, Hanunóo, Buginese, Coptic, Gothic, Ugaritic, Old Persian, Phoenician, Runic. Symbol coverage includes Mathematical Operators, Geometrical shapes, Diacritical marks, Western music, and Byzantine music, inter alia.

Bitstream Cyberbit

Bitstream Cyberbit is a professionally-designed large Unicode font which provides coverage of many major scripts, including Latin, extended Latin, Greek, Russian, Hebrew, Arabic, Thai, Japanese (Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji), Korean, and Chinese Hanzi (ideographs). Among TrueType fonts with extensive Unicode coverage, this font has historically been one of the best that could be downloaded for free. The Bitstream Cyberbit Font License permits the licensee to use the font for free on only one system.

Bitstream Cyberbit Font Sample

Not recommended for Thai. Although the font contains a full set of Thai glyphs, the positioning of vowel and tone marks, while readable in most cases, is not always typographically correct.

Code 2000 and Code 2001

Code 2000 is an experimental shareware font with over 34,000 glyphs designed by James Kass to cover all of the non-Han sections of the Unicode Basic Multilingual Plane (BMP).

Looking carefully at the glyphs in this font, it is evident that Mr. Kass' objective has been to cover as much of the BMP as possible (rather than to design a beautiful font). He has certainly achieved this objective, as this is one of the few fonts available with extensive coverage of many scripts, including scripts only recently added into the Unicode standard for which fonts are difficult to find or not yet available elsewhere, such as Canadian Syllabics, Limbu, and Buginese. Code 2000 has OpenType tables for some but not all of the Indic and other complex text layout (CTL) scripts for which glyphs are present in the font. Code 2000 is therefore not a general solution for Indic and CTL scripts, but may be useful in creating Unicode charts where only isolated forms of CTL script characters are required. The shareware fee for continued use of this font after evaluation is $US 5.00.

Bitstream Cyberbit Font Sample Bitstream Cyberbit Font Sample

Mr. Kass is also working on Code 2001 and Code 2002 which cover parts of Unicode Plane 1 and Plane 2 respectively. Some of the scripts included in Code 2001 are Old Persian Cuneiform, Deseret, Tengwar, Cirth, Old Italic, Gothic, Aegean Numbers, Cypriot Syllabary, Pollard Script, and Ugaritic. Code 2002 currently contains about 40% of the Plane 2 CJK ideographs.

Everson Mono Unicode

The type designer and linguist Michael Everson has been extremely active in the development of the Unicode Standard. He has contributed more proposals for encoding of the world's scripts in Unicode than anyone else. His Everson Mono Unicode font covers many of the non-Han script blocks in Unicode and ISO/IEC 10646-1, including Latin, extended Latin, Cyrillic, Greek, Armenian, Georgian, and even Cherokee and the Unified Canadian Syllabics. Originally available only for Macintosh, the font is now finally available to PC users as well.

As this is a mono-spaced font, you might try using it as the console font in your terminal application.

Everson Mono Unicode is available under a shareware license which permits usage on three computers for a fee of € 25.00 after evaluation.

Everson Mono

MPH Damase

Note Bene: fixedsys.org is not currently available on the internet.

MPH Damase is a pan-Unicode font from fixedsys.org. Released into the public domain, MPH Damase has coverage of many Unicode script blocks, including many not readily available in other fonts. Coverage includes Latin, Latin-1 supplement, Latin Extended A and B, Greek, Cyrillic, Armenian, Hebrew, Arabic, Thaana, Georgian, Cherokee, Hanunoo, Limbu, Tai Le, New Tai Le, Coptic, Hungarian Runic, Glagolitic, Plane 1 Linear B, Agean, Ugaritic, and more.

Other Pan-Unicode Fonts

Chinese-Japanese-Korean (CJK) fonts often provide at least some coverage of Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic. See the East Asian section.

GNU Unifont GNU General Public License

Roman Czyborra's GNU Unifont is an important bitmap font now present in virtually every GNU/Linux and other Open Source operating system distribution on the planet. A few years ago, Mr. Cyzborra's excellent web site vanished from the internet along, one is forced to speculate, with its author. However, unicodecharacter.com had maintained (and continues to maintain) Czyborra's original material on Unicode and character encoding issues along with an additional introduction in German.

Additionally, at least six pages of the author's original website at czyborra.com are online once again, where you can read all about the GNU Unicode font as well as obtain the original unifont hex data along with various Perl scripts for managing the bitmap data.

The Internet Archive Wayback Machine has a copy of Czyborra's site from September 25, 2003. At that time, the site consisted of 19 pages of material. The resurrected site, which appears to have come on line in February of 2005, is shown on the Wayback Machine as having six pages of material.

Paul Hardy at Unifoundry.com has now completed Czyborra's GNU Unifont project by providing a glyph for every printable code point in the Unicode Basic Multilingual Plane (BMP). A lot of work has gone into improving glyph legibility, especially for orthographies such as Korean. You can download the completed GNU Unifont along with various scripts and tools from Unifoundry.com.

GNU Unifont

In general, this site does not list shareware fonts. Mr. Kass' and Mr. Everson's fonts are notable exceptions.

African Scripts


Please refer to the Middle East section for Arabic fonts.

Ethiopic (Amharic አማርኛ)

Ethiopic is the primary writing system of Eritrea and Ethiopia where the writing system is called "Ge'ez", "Fidel", or "Fidelat". The script is used to write classic ge'ez, tgrNa, amarNa, guragiNa and other languages.

SIL's AbyssinicaSIL font is released under the OFL OFL . Abyssinica SIL supports all Ethiopic characters which are in Unicode including the Unicode 4.1 extensions. Some languages of Ethiopia require characters not yet present in Unicode: Abyssinica SIL includes these non-Unicode characters in the Private Use Area (PUA). See SIL's documentation for details.

The Ethiopic Unicode Resource Page provides fonts, keyboards, and other useful links. Ethiopia Jiret GPL and GF Zemen are two fonts mentioned on this page. James Kass' pan-Unicode Code 2000 font also contains Ethiopic glyphs.

Amharic (Ethiopic) font sample


The N'Ko script is slated for inclusion in Unicode version 5.0.

SIL has created an experimental N'Ko Graphite smart font using the Koli N'Ko Manden font.


The Tifinagh abjad is used to write Berber languages of North Africa, including Tamasheq and Amazigh. One-third to one-half of the population of Morocco is Berber, and many speakers of Berber languages also reside in the neighboring North African countries of Algeria, Libya, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. The script has been taught in primary schools in Morocco since 2003.

The Hapax Berbère font is an OpenType font "libre de droit" by Patrick Andries of Service de conseils Hapax. Several other Tifinagh fonts are also available from this Hapax font directory.

Hapax Berbère font sample (Le Petit Prince)

A sample Tifinagh web site may be found here. The Institut Royal de la Culture Amazighe has a lot of additional information on their web site, including this interactive introduction to the alphabet.

Fonts for Native American Languages

LanguageGeek.com icon

North American Indian languages are written using the Latin script with various diacritics, unified Canadian Syllabics or, in the case of Cherokee, the Cherokee alphabet. Christopher Harvey at LanguageGeek.com has created both serif and sans-serif OpenType fonts covering the necessary Unicode ranges for writing many of the native American languages of Canada and the United States. In addition, he now has a number of new specialized fonts which have been optimized for writing specific languages and orthographic variants. His excellent web site is well worth a visit.

LanguageGeek Serif font sample LanguageGeek Sans font sample

James Kass's pan-Unicode Code 2000 also contains glyphs for Canadian Syllabics.


Bitstream Vera Bitstream Vera Font License

In 2003, the Gnome Foundation reached an agreement with Bitstream to release a number of fonts under an open source license. As a result of this agreement, the Vera font family consisting of ten font files is now available for download from http://www.gnome.org/fonts/. Only covers Latin. For greater coverage, see the DejaVu fonts in the Latin, Greek and Cyrillic section below.

Vera sample

Fonts by Raph Levien

Raph Levien has two nearly-complete fonts under the OFL OFL:

Raph Levien OFL fonts

Century Catalogue is a close revival of Century Oldstyle and is, according to the author, quite close to release. Available in FontForge SFD and Postscript formats for download.

Inconsolata is a monospaced humanist sans font designed for use in code listings for print media. Available in FontForge SFD, OpenType, and PFA formats.

Levien has some other fonts in the development pipeline which may also be of interest. A basic version of Levien's Typo Script script font designed for math typesetting is also planned for release under the OFL.


MgOpen MgOpen Font License

The MgOpen Typeface Collection consists of four professional typefaces that have now been released under an open source license by Magenta Ltd.. The terms of the license agreement were modeled closely after the Bitstream Vera licensing terms. These Unicode fonts are appropriate for monotonic Greek. A fifth typeface, MgOpenApolyta for polytonic Greek will be released in the near future after Latin is added to the font. ελληνικά.

MgOpen Typeface example

SIL Galatia

SIL International has released a Greek Unicode font, Galatia, which contains all diacritical marks needed for ancient and biblical Greek.

Galatia sample

Greek Font Society OFL

The Greek Font Society has now released a beautiful collection of seven Greek-plus-Latin OpenType fonts. At least three of these fonts have now been licensed under the OFL.

Vangelis Makridakis' Fonts GPL

Vangelis Makridakis, a Greek designer, has recently released five new display fonts under the GPL (with a clarification allowing embedding). These new OpenType fonts cover modern Greek and Latin and can be downloaded here.

Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic

Liberation GNU General Public License

In May, 2007, Red Hat announced the public release of the Liberation fonts at the Red Hat Summit. These fonts are designed to be metrically equivalent to widely used proprietary Microsoft platform fonts. There are three sets of fonts, Sans (a substitute for Arial, Albany, Helvetica, Nimbus Sans L, and Bitstream Vera Sans), Serif (a substitute for Times New Roman, Thorndale, Nimbus Roman, and Bitstream Vera Serif) and Mono (a substitute for Courier New, Cumberland, Courier, Nimbus Mono L, and Bitstream Vera Sans Mono). The fonts were created by Ascender Corporation, a leading commercial font developer, and are currently licensed under the GPL+font exception license. Red Hat's press release may be found here.

Liberation font sample

DejaVu Bitstream Vera Font License

DejaVu Logo

The Bitstream license accompanying the Vera font set explicitely permits additions and modifications if the modified fonts are released under a different name. Štěpán Roh and the entire team of the DejaVu project have taken advantage of this liberal license to produce greatly expanded derivative font families which now provide extensive coverage of Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, Armenian, IPA and additional Unicode ranges. In addition to providing sans serif, serif, and sans-serif monospaced, the project now has experimental sans condensed and serif condensed families. The project's wiki-based site provides excellent documentation, including the project's roadmap for Multilingual European Subset (MES) conformance and current and future plans. Denis Jacquerye, Ben Laenen, and Ognyan Kulev serve as the project's lead team.

Dejavu font sample

Gentium OFL

Victor Gaultney's beautiful font Gentium is now a project of SIL International. The font has recently been relicensed under SIL's Open Font License (OFL), a FSF-recognized license. If you are using GNU/Linux or another Free and Open Source operating system, be sure to visit SIL's Gentium Linux page. Note that Gentium contains many obscure glyphs not commonly available in other fonts. Covers Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, and IPA ranges. One user commented that this font is "diacritic Nirvana"!

Gentium sample

Libertine Open Font OFL GPL

Libertine sample

Philipp H. Poll's Libertine Open Fonts Project - Projekt freier Schriftarten provides a modern, professionally-designed alternative to proprietary Roman-style serif fonts. Libertine covers Western Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, the IPA and more and, as of version 2.1.9, is now dual-licensed under the GPL and OFL. A multilingual proofsheet provides a good sample of this font. Conveniently available in regular, bold, italic, bold italic, and even an underlined style, this is a very useful font to add to your system. Rounding out the set, a small capitals style is under development.

Doulos SIL OFL

The goal of SIL International's Doulos font was to provide a single Unicode-based font family that would contain a comprehensive inventory of glyphs needed for almost any Roman- or Cyrillic-based writing system, whether used for phonetic or orthographic needs. OpenType tables have been included to allow accurate positioning of arbitrary combinations of base glyphs and diacritics. Recently re-licensed under SIL's Open Font License (OFL).

Doulos sample Doulos Diacritics sample

Charis SIL OFL

Charis SIL is a new font from SIL. Similar to Bitstream Charter, this font features a comprehensive inventory of glyphs needed for almost any Roman- or Cyrillic-based writing system, whether used for phonetic, orthographic, or linguistic needs. The font includes both OpenType layout tables as well as Graphite support needed for complex typography and optimal typesetting of arbitrary combinations of base glyphs and diacritics. Unlike Doulos SIL, Charis SIL is available in regular, italic, bold, and bold italic variants. It is released under SIL's Open Font License (OFL).

Old Standard OFL

Old Standard OFL'ed font

Old Standard from Thessalonica.org reproduces a modern classicist serif typeface very commonly used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This type face can be considered a good choice for scientific papers especially in the social and humanitarian sciences where the Greek and Cyrillic scripts are required. Released under the OFL, it is available in FontForge SFD, TrueType and OpenType formats.

Andika SIL OFL

Andika sample

Andika is a new sans serif, Unicode-compliant font designed by SIL especially for literacy use, taking into account the needs of beginning readers. The focus is on clear, easy-to-perceive letterforms that will not be easily confused with one another. The font, currently in design review, currently contains about 600 glyphs but will eventually contain around 3000 glyphs as in Doulos and Charis.


The Armenian Unicode Project aims to support and promote the use of the Unicode standard for Armenian language support. A comprehensive list of Unicode fonts which include the Armenian range is provided on this site, and most of the listed fonts can be downloaded directly from their server.

One drawback of this site is that the licensing terms of a number of the fonts listed on this site are not explicitely mentioned. HindsightUnicode is one of the listed fonts that has been released under a Copyleft license. This font contains glyphs from a number of other Unicode script ranges beside Armenian.

The Deja Vu sans font (listed above in the Latin, Greek and Cyrillic section) now also contains Armenian glyphs.

Armenian sample

Code 2000 and Everson Mono Unicode also cover the Armenian range. See the Pan Unicode section.


Gia Shervashidze and Vladimer Sichinava have created 14 and 16 pixel size Georgian BDF console fonts to replace those present in unifont.dbf which are considered ugly. You can download the New_Georgian_BDF_Fonts.tar.gz package here.

The Georgian Internet Alliance (www.gia.ge) is a non-commercial project working on Georgian localization on popular non-commercial FLOSS (OpenOffice.org, KDE, Gnome, Mozilla suite, Firefox, etc.) and commercial software. The www.gia.ge web portal is led by Gia Shervashidze (aka Giasher) who is the main contributor for the Georgian translation projects for Mozilla and other popular FLOSS software. For more information see here. The FLOSS Georgian effort has been aided by Pablo Saratxaga, the localization manager of Mandriva.

From the download link on BPG Infotech you can download the GPL'ed BPG Chveulebrivi, BPG Courier, BPG Elite, BPG Glaho, BPG Rioni and BPG Unicode Standard. Special thanks are due to the font author Bessarion Paata Gugushvili. This font collection was originally included in the Ubuntu and Debian distributions packaged and maintained by Matthew Garrett.

You can also download additional Georgian Unicode fonts directly from BPG Infotech. BPG Infotech is also planning to provide Georgian glyphs for inclusion in the Dejavu font project.

Georgian font sample

Middle Eastern Language Scripts


Arabeyes.org logo

Arabeyes.org is a well-organized meta project that aims at fully supporting the Arabic language in the Free Libre Open Source Software environment. The project maintains an excellent web site which is well worth a visit. Khotot GNU General Public License is Arabeyes' project to increase the number of available Arabic free and open source fonts. The site has a number of artistic Arabic fonts released under the GPL, and links to Farsi fonts as well.

Example fonts from Arabeyes.org FarsiWeb Logo

Although Arabeyes has a link for downloading the FarsiWeb font package, you might want to visit FarsiWeb directly to download the first set of standard Unicode Persian fonts ever published (some of these fonts are under the GPL GNU General Public License as well).

SIL International recently released two Unicode OpenType fonts for Arabic, Scheherazade and Lateef. Both fonts provide so-called "simplified" rendering of Arabic script using basic connecting glyphs but not including a wide variety of additional ligatures or contextual alternates, other than lam-alef. However, the fonts do provide language-specific features for rendering Kurdish, Sindhi, and Urdu, as well as both Arabic-Indic and Eastern Arabic digits. The fonts are available in both OpenType format (for Uniscribe, ICU, and Pango-based applications) and AAT format (for ATSUI applications on Mac OS X). They can be downloaded from SIL's NRSI Arabic Script Unicode Fonts page.

SIL Arabic Font samples

Please refer to the South Asia section for additional Arabic fonts for Urdu.

ئۇيغۇر: Please refer to the East Asia section for additional Arabic fonts for Uyghur.


SIL International has released two Unicode OpenType fonts fashioned after the typography of the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia old testament. The fonts come with all cantillation marks needed for biblical Hebrew. The glyphs in the two fonts are identical, but the style of the cantillation marks differs. You can find out more about the fonts and download them from the Ezra SIL Fonts page.

Ezra sample

The Society for Biblical Literature makes available the SBL Hebrew font without cost to individual users for non-profit use (commercial use is reserved for donors to the SBL Font Foundation).

Another font containing Hebrew glyphs is David J. Perry's Cardo font which is free for personal, non-commercial, and non-profit use. Cardo is a large Unicode font designed for classicists which covers many other blocks in Unicode, including Latin, IPA, and Greek.


The Syriac Computing Center (SyrCOM) of Beth Mardutho has developed OpenType Unicode Syriac fonts under their project Meltho. For the convenience of GNU/Linux users, a ".tar.gz" package is provided. Meltho font samples are shown below.

Syriac font samples


The Maldivian Internet Task Force (MITF) provides a Thaana font released under the GNU Free Documentation License. You can download MITF's Thaana Unicode Akeh font here.

Thaana sample

Note: The MITF site is apparently no longer available. An alternative is the Dhivehi Politics site which provides two Thaana Unicode fonts for download, Faruma.ttf and AReethi. These fonts are available for free download although the licensing terms are not specified. The same font package is also available from maldivesculture.com.


The Debian HK "何處可以找到適用GNU/Linux的字型 (Where can I find fonts for GNU/Linux)" page discusses many of the CJK fonts listed below in Chinese.

Simplified and Traditional Chinese 简体和繁體字的字體

The long-awaited Firefly font 螢火飛點陣字型 Arphic Font License font is a truetype font with embedded screen-optimized bitmap glyphs (點陣字) for every size from 11 to 16 pixels. The font was created by merging the Arphic traditional and simplified truetype glyph sets and then creating bitmap glyphs for the smaller sizes. CJK fonts are notoriously hard to hint, and antialiased Chinese fonts are usually too blurred to read on screen in small pixel sizes. Embedding bitmap glyphs into a truetype font is a well-known solution, but the task of creating nearly 100,000 bitmap glyphs to cover the required pixel sizes is enormous. Fortunately, the long-awaited solution has now been realized by Firefly (螢火飛) who also has contributed many patches to solve CJK GNU/Linux display problems. The bitmaps created by Firefly have been released under the GPL while the Arphic vector glyphs are released under the Arphic Public License (APL). The new font is called "AR PL New Sung" (文鼎 PL 新宋).

Firefly font sample

In September 2004, Arne Götje (高盛華) with the Taiwan Debian project announced a CJK-Unifonts project Arphic Font License. He has taken truetype fonts originally published by Arphic Technologies and merged the Big5 and GB2312 glyph sets which were originally in separate fonts into combined Unicode fonts. He is also adding glyphs to cover Japanese, Korean, the Hong Kong Supplemental Character Set (HKSCS), and Extended Bopomofo for Minnan and Hakka (台、客語). The new fonts are being released under the Arphic Public License and can be downloaded from http://debian.linux.org.tw/pub/3Anoppix/people/arne/

Taiwan Debian Arphic Unicode font samples

Bitstream Cyberbit, also covered in the Pan Unicode section, provides excellent coverage of both simplified (简体字) and traditional (繁體字) Chinese glyphs in a very readable font.

Bitstream Cyberbit Traditional and Simplified Chinese glyph sample Wen Quan Yi(文泉驿)Project Logo

The Wen Quan Yi (文泉驿) GNU General Public License Screen Font bitmap font (點陣字型) includes complete CJK Unified Ideograph (U4E00 - U9FA5) glyphs at four different sizes (9pt-12X12 pixel, 10pt-13X13 pixel, 11pt-15X15 pixel, Use of this bitmap font for on-screen display of Chinese in web pages and elsewhere eliminates the annoying "blurring" problems caused by the high stroke density of many Chinese characters, the comparatively low-resolution of computer screens, and insufficient "hinting" of anti-aliased Chinese fonts. For the 12pt font, Hangul glyphs (U+AC00~U+D7A3) from GNU Unifont (Roman Czyborra/David Starner et al.) were used for bold face while those from Hanterm 3.x were used for the medium face.

The release of this font is dedicated to Wang Hong for her extraordinary contribution to the Wen Quan Yi Project. The font builds upon previous work by Firefly, RedFlag Linux, as well as contributions from thousands of people who laboured for more than 10 months to create more than 15,000 new bitmaps and improve or redraw more than 35,000 bitmap glyphs. Portions under the GPL GNU General Public License.

The project plans on creating bitmap glyphs covering the Unicode Plane 1 CJK extension in the future.

WQY font sample

Traditional Chinese 繁體字的字體

Dr. Hann-Tzong Wang (王漢宗教授) has released a number of traditional Chinese fonts to the open source community under the GPL. GPL Dr. Wang's fonts are available from the Chinese GNU/Linux Extensions 中文延伸套件 (CLE) server at cle.linux.org.tw/fonts/wangfonts/.

Dr. Hann-Tzong Wang's GPL'ed fonts

A few years ago, Arphic Technology of Taiwan released a number of fonts under the Arphic Public License. Those fonts have become the basis of Arne Götje's Taiwan Debian Unicode CJK-Unifonts project described above. We strongly recommend that users download the Unicode-based CJK-Unifonts derivative fonts instead of Arphic's originals because the derivatives now contain a wider range of both simplified and traditional characters. Arphic Technology's original fonts and a number of other Chinese fonts, including the Taiwan Ministry of Education fonts, can be downloaded from CLE's http server at http://cle.linux.org.tw/fonts/ or from the ftp server at ftp://cle.linux.org.tw/pub2/fonts/ttf/unicode/ .

cwTeX is a Chinese-capable TeX distribution by Tsong-Min Wu and Tsong-Huey Wu. Several Chinese Type 1 PostScript fonts are distributed along with cwTeX. In the last year, Edward G.J. Lee converted five of the included typefaces into the TrueType format, combined these with the CM fonts for the LGC script, and with the UnFonts for Japanese and Korean. These cwTeX TrueType fonts GNU General Public License are released under the GPL. The fonts feature five of the most commonly used typefaces in Chinese. Among these, the included MingTi (明體) font contains glyphs conforming to Chinese typographic conventions and is thus useful for for printed documents. See Edward G.J. Lee's blog for a detailed treatment of the distinctions between typographic (印刷體) and relatively more calligraphic (書(手)寫體) glyph styles among Chinese fonts.

cwTEX TTF Font samples

Hong Kong Cantonese 香港

In September of 1999, the Government of Hong Kong and the Chinese Language Interface Advisory Committee (中文界面諮詢委員會) published the Hong Kong Supplementary Character Set (HKSCS, 香港增補字符集). The HKSCS of 1999 contained 4,702 Chinese characters representing place names, people, and other characters specific to the Cantonese language used in Hong Kong. In 2001, an additional 116 characters were added to the set. Since 2001, an additional 44 characters have been added to the HKSCS.

The Hong Kong government currently provides at this URL (在這個網址) binary installers which provide both input method software (IME) as well as a reference TrueType font for specific GNU/Linux distributions (Mandrake, Redhat, and SuSE). (Packages for Windows users are also provided).

If you are not using one of the supported GNU/Linux distributions, or are using another Unix-based operating system, you can still extract the reference Ming Unicode font from the relevant RPM and use it on your computer: here are detailed instructions.

The Hong Kong Digital 21 font license terms are here.


Japanese 日本語

Recognizing the paucity of freely-available Japanese fonts in the aftermath of the Kochi font fiasco, the Japanese open source community, including Kazuhiko and Kanou (狩野宏樹) of the Electronic Font Open Laboratory (efont) have put a lot of work into providing Japanese fonts under an Open Source license. The Sazanami Gothic ゴシック體 and Mincho 明朝體 fonts are provided by the Wada Laboratory of the University of Tokyo and Electronic Font Open Laboratory.

Bitstream Cyberbit, (covered in the Pan Unicode section) also provides coverage of Japanese hiragana, katakana, and kanji in a very readable font.

Sazanami Gothic, Mincho, and Cyberbit Bitstream samples


In September of 2003, Jungshik Shin announced the availability of the new "Un" series of GPL'ed fonts created by Un Koaunghi and Park Won-Kyu who painstakenly scanned, converted, and hand-hinted the glyphs. In addition to converting the glyphs from Postscript to TrueType format, Park Won-Kyu also added GSUB tables to the UnBatang font for full support of Hangul Jamos.

These new fonts have several advantages over the Baemuk fonts included in most GNU/Linux distributions. Seven font families are available (serif, sans-serif, script, etc.), and the fonts contain the full Latin-1, precomposed Hangul, and KS X 1001 Chinese characters. The GSUB tables in UnBatang also provide support for pre-1933 orthography using Hangul Jamos. This font collection is now available from http://kldp.net/projects/unfonts/ GNU General Public License. As of August 2004 there were a total of 19 fonts available from this site.

Korean sample


James Kass' Code 2000 OpenType shareware font contains glyphs and layout tables for traditional Mongolian script.

Vincent Magiya's Manchu Font GNU General Public License. project has released an alpha version of a Mongolian OpenType font under the GPL, ManchuFont2005.

Traditional Mongolian is written from top to bottom and from left to right. As a consequence of the limitations of current computer technologies, the glyphs in both of these fonts are rotated 90 degrees which allows lines of text to be composed in horizontal lines using existing software.

Tai Le

Please refer to the Southeast Asia section for Tai Le fonts.


Please refer to the South Asia section for Tibetan fonts.

Uyghur (Arabic Script)

The Uyghur Computer Science Association / Uyghur Kompyutér Ilimi Jem'iyiti (UKIJ) has released a number of high-quality OpenType fonts for writing Uyghur in the Arabic script. The fonts are distributed for free. Some of these fonts have extended ligature sets and may be useful for writing other languages as well.

UKIJ samples

Yi Syllabary OFL

In the 1970's, the Chinese government standardized this regionally-variable syllabary which has been in use by ethnic groups in Southwestern China for centuries. The standardized phonology is based on speech in use in Xide County in Sichuan Province. SIL International has released a Unicode Yi font which is now under SIL's Open Font License OFL.

Yi sample

South Asian

Be sure to visit the following sites to obtain Unicode fonts for a number of the major Indic scripts:

  • The IndiX (English version) project provides a complex text layout (CTL) shaping engine for Indic scripts on Linux independent of what Pango/Gnome and QT/KDE provide. The project has a series of Raghu OpenType fonts released under the GPL GPL providing support for 9 scripts (Devanagari, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati, Oriya, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam) and 12 languages. The project also provides a number of libraries and applications in binary and source code packages.
  • The Technology Development for Indian Languages (TDIL) project of the Indian government develops information processing tools and techniques to facilitate multi-lingual computing and eliminate language barriers in computing in India. The project provides a number of Unicode OpenType fonts for four of the major Indic scripts (Devanagari, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil).
  • INDOLIPI font sample
  • Elmar Kniprath's INDOLIPI software package (WinXP) for Indologists and linguists contains Open Type fonts for most Indic scripts along with an IPA Open Type font with all transliteration signs used by Indologists. Some of the fonts are designed to support the classical orthographies of various Indic languages.

Another very useful resource for South and South East Asian computing is:

Pan Localization Project Logo
  • The PAN Localization project sponsored by the International Development Research Program (IDRC), Canada, through its Pan Asia Networking (PAN) Program; and the National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences (NUCES), Pakistan, through its Centre for Research in Urdu Language Processing (CRULP). This joint initiative seeks to build capacity in local language computing within regional institutions in South and South-East Asia.

Devanāgarī देवनागरी

www.sanskritweb.org/cakram/ has released a Devanagari Unicode OpenType font under the GPL license GPL . The font contains 4347 glyphs consisting of 325 half forms, 960 half-form context variations and 2743 ligature signs. It is designed especially for Vedic and Classical Sanskrit but can also be used for Hindi, Nepali and other modern Indian languages. The font includes Vedic accents and many additional signs and provides maximal support for the Devanagari script. The font is now provided in two variants: the Chandas font represents the Southern or Bombay style in common use today, while Uttara represents the Northern or Calcutta style.

Chandas Devanāgarī font samples MPP Logo

The Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya (MPP, मदन पुरस्कार पुस्तकालय) Library is a non-profit, non-governmental institution in Nepal. The library is well-known for its literary collections and its work in publishing, education, and training. Three Devanagari Unicode fonts, Sanir Karmacharya's Kalimati and Kanjirowa, and Rabison Shakya's Thyaka Rabison can be downloaded here. In addition to the fonts, the MPP is working on Nepali keyboard standardization, Unicode conversion, sorting, and spell checking software in conjunction with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Ministry of Science and Technology, HMG.

The Technology Development for Indian Languages (TDIL) project of the Indian Department of Information Technology now provides an extensive set of Unicode-compliant Open Type fonts for Devanagari and other Indic scripts (Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil) which are free for personal and academic use. Visit this site to obtain Raghindi font, the Center for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC)'s excellent CDAC-GISTYogeshN-OpenType font and CDAC-GISTSurekh-OpenType font and other high-quality Open Type fonts. The JanaSanskrit font available from TDIL presumably contains the additional consonant conjuncts needed for Sanskrit.

Devanāgarī font samples


Bangla Fonts Project Logo

The Free Bangla Fonts Project seeks to create free, high-quality Unicode-compliant OpenType Bengali fonts. The group is currently concentrating on creating a full set of consonant conjunct glyphs for their Akaash font set (sample shown below). The web site also hosts Dr. Anirban Mitra's Ani and Mukti fonts, as well as Deepayan Sarkar's Likhan OTF font. Download these fonts here.

Solaiman Karim with support from Omi Azad has produced a series of OpenType fonts for Bengali which are, according to Ekushey.org the only fonts yet made that are 100% compatible with Unicode 4.1.0 (which added some new letters). In particular, note that these fonts have KhandaTa encoded so KhandaTa problems should become a thing of the past. Download SolaimanLipi.ttf GPL and other fonts from here.

Support for rendering many Indic scripts in GNU/Linux is just emerging. Both Yudit version 2.7 and newer and Open Office version 1.1.3 appear to render Bengali well. The Akaash font sample below was typed and rendered by Yudit:

Akaash Bengali font sample

The following is a sample of Solaiman Karim's SolaimanLipi font from Ekushey.org:

SolaimanLipi font sample


Utkarsh project logo

The Utkarsh project seeks to bring the power of computers to speakers of Gujarati. The Rekha Gujarati font GPL is distributed under the GNU General Public License. Another font, Aakar Gujarati font, is also now available from this site.

Both the Aakar and Rekha fonts appear to result in correctly-rendered Gujarati text in Yudit and Open Office, and in software that uses a recent version of Pango (such as the Gnome Desktop). The sample below was rendered by Open Office 1.1.3.

Gujarati font sample


The Punjabi Computing Resource Centre web site provides developers and end-users information on using Unicode Gurmukhi for Punjabi. In addition to supplying a conversion application that converts legacy, non-Unicode texts into Unicode, the project also provides Saab, GPL a completely free (GPL'ed), Unicode 4.0-compliant OpenType Gurmukhi font.

For additional information and resources for computing in Punjabi, see the PunLinux web site.

Gurmukhi font sample


The Kannada Localization project on Sourceforge is working to localize free software, initially KDE and Gnome, in Kannada. Sampige is a free OpenType Kannada font available for download from this site.

The Technology Development for Indian Languages (TDIL) project of the Indian Department of Information Technology provides an extensive set of Unicode-compliant Open Type fonts which are free for personal and academic use. The set includes JanaKannada for Kannada.

Support for rendering Kannada under GNU/Linux is just emerging. As a result, a lot of software may exhibit rendering artifacts when laying out Kannada text. Yudit version 2.7.6 appears to handle Kannada well. The sample image below was rendered by Yudit using the Sampige font. Open Office version 1.1.3 provides better support for Kannada than previous versions of Open Office, although some rendering artifacts were still apparent in our review. These artifacts could be due to problems with either Open Office or with the Sampige font. Most of the artifacts that we saw were minimized when we added extra spaces between certain words.

Sampige Kannada OpenType font sample


The Limbu script is used to write Limbu or Yakthungba Pan, a Tibeto-Burman language spoken by about 280,000 people in eastern Nepal, Bhutan, and northern India. Limbu has been encoded in Unicode 4.0. The Limbu script is included in James Kass' Code2000 font, but I do not know if OpenType support has been provided for this Indic-derived script.

Limbu Sample


The Bureau of Industries Promotions of Kerala, in association with the Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme (APDIP) and the Free Software Foundation of India (FSF India), hosts the Malayalam project which aims to create the basic infrastructure and software required for computing in Malayalam on the GNU/Linux platform.

On their Downloads page you can obtain Shaji N. Vyapron and Jeroen Hellingman's malayalam font in tarred gzip format.

The Technology Development for Indian Languages (TDIL) project of the Indian Department of Information Technology provides an extensive set of Unicode-compliant Open Type fonts which are free for personal and academic use. The set includes JanaMalayalam for Malayalam.

Malayalam font sample


Project Rebati is a new Open Source initiative for computing in Oriya. In addition to providing Oriya locale, keymap, and documentation files, the site also provides the Utkal Medium GPL Oriya font by Andy White released under the GPL.

Oriya font sample


Fonts.lk project logo

The Fonts.lk project site maintained by the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka and hosted by the University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) is working on the development of Unicode fonts and keyboard drivers for Sinhala and Tamil. Recently, Pushpananda Ekanayaka's Malithi Web font has become available.

Lanka Linux User Group's logo

The Lanka Linux User Group promotes the use of GNU/Linux software in Sri Lanka. In October, 2004, they released Sinhala GNU/Linux version 0.2.1 featuring the Sinhala language patch for Pango, a Sinhala Open Type font based on the glyphs designed by Yannis Haralambous with OpenType tables added by Anuradha Ratnaweera and Harshani Devadithya, a Sinhala locale in POSIX format for glibc, and a GTK-based phonetic input method for Sinhala.

Pango version 1.8, released on December 16, 2004, now includes the Lanka Linux User Group's patch to support Sinhala, which means that the next release of the Gnome desktop will have Sinhala support.

Sinhala font sample


Be sure to visit the Indix project's Raghu OpenType fonts download page which includes a Tamil font. Sooriyan.com has released a free Tamil Unicode font by Jeyatheepan Ulagapiragasam called SooriyanDotCom in order to help accelerate the use of Unicode in Tamil computing. Four GPL'ed Tamil Unicode fonts are also available at this site. Be sure to download TmlUniGNU-GPL.zip which contains VaigaiUni by P.S. Ranganathan with OpenType feautures added by A.Umar and TheneeUni, TheneeUniTx and ThendralUni all by A. Umar.

Note Bene: The barathee.beigetower.org site listed below appears to have been offline since at least 2006.03.05

The Free Software In Tamil project appears to be a primary source for learning about Open Source software in Tamil. Type "font" in the search box on the site's Downloads page. P.S. Ranganathan and A. Umar's Vaigai Unicode font for Tamil is released under the GPL.

The Technology Development for Indian Languages (TDIL) project of the Indian Department of Information Technology provides an extensive set of Unicode-compliant Open Type fonts which are free for personal and academic use. The set includes JanaTamil for Tamil.

Vaigai Unicode Tamil Unicode font sample


Dr. Tirumala Krishna Desikacharyulu of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada, maintains the kavya-nandanam web site to promote Classical (Sampradayika) Telugu literature. He has also produced a Telugu OpenType font, Pothana2000, which you can download from his site. The following image was taken from Yudit:

Telugu font sample


Tibetan & Himalayan Digital Library Logo Tibetan Sample

The Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library (THDL) project at the University of Virginia has released the Tibetan Machine Unicode GPL font based on the glyphs created by Mr. Tony Duff of the Tibetan Computer Company and with sponsorship from the Trace Foundation of New York City. Make sure that you download the Unicode-encoded font package, as the legacy font packages are also available on the THDL, Trace, and Sourceforge web sites. It can be very confusing if you aren't careful. Also watch out as many of the Tibetan web pages, including those of THDL and Trace are encoded using an ad-hoc scheme which is completely dependent on a specific set of Duff's legacy font files combined with specially crafted CSS in the web pages themselves.

Jomolhari sample

Christopher Fynn has now released his Jomolhari font under SIL's Open Font License (OFL) OFL. Download from THDL's repository or from the Free Tibetan Fonts Project repository.

On Linux, support for Tibetan fonts has been present in KDE/QT applications for a long time. Support for Tibetan became available to Gnome/GTK+ applications with the release of Pango version 1.17.1 in May, 2006. Everything should therefore work very well in recent Linux distributions such as Dzongkha Linux. If you are using an older distribution of linux, upgrading Pango to version 1.17.1 may be necessary.

Limitations to using Tibetan fonts on Mac OSX (including 10.5) continue to exist as the OpenType support does not seem to cover all the features used by Tibetan fonts, but it apparently works in some Mac applications which implement their own OT support.

When using Tibetan fonts on recent Windows operating systems prior to Vista, be sure to install a version of Uniscribe which has support for Tibetan, or else use the Uniscribe dynamic link library (dll) which comes with Office 2003.


Established in 2001, the Center for Research in Urdu Language Processing (CRULP) is conducting research and development in linguistic and computational aspects of Urdu and other languages of Pakistan. The center conducts research and development in speech processing, computational linguistics, and script processing. The Nastaleeq, Naskh, Pakistani Naskh, and Web Naskh fonts are available for download here.

Nastaleeq sample PakType logo

The Pakistani Typography project has released two fonts, Naqsh and Tehreer, under the GPL. Both of these fonts contain numerous extended Arabic glyphs needed for languages like Urdu.

A very useful resource for South and South East Asian computing is:

Pan Localization Project Logo
  • The PAN Localization project sponsored by the International Development Research Program (IDRC), Canada, through its Pan Asia Networking (PAN) Program; and the National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences (NUCES), Pakistan, through its Centre for Research in Urdu Language Processing (CRULP). This joint initiative seeks to build capacity in local language computing within regional institutions in South and South-East Asia.


KhmerOS logo

The Khmer Software Initiative is working toward the goal of producing Open Source software in the Cambodian language. The Open Forum of Cambodia is a Cambodian NGO coordinating the development of KhmerOS which is based on GNU/Linux and other Open Source software. As an example of the rapid progress being made, as of the end of August, 2004:

  • Support for Khmer in KDE had been completed and included in version 3.3.1 of Qt so that KDE can display and print Khmer correctly. The work was done by Lars Knoll, the maintainer of Qt, with the help of Lin Chear.
  • 60% of Open Office had been translated into Khmer.
  • Translation of Firefox in Khmer had been completed.

Now it seems it will only be a matter of time --and only a short time at that-- before we start to see a Cambodian internet presence in the Khmer language.

The latest versions of the LGPL-licensed KhmerOS Unicode font, a Khmer system font, and a KhmerOS Freehand font can be downloaded from here.

Khmer sample


The ICT for Development Project of Laos under the auspices of the Science, Technology and Environment Agency (STEA) of the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic and the United Nations Development Programme has released a high-quality Unicode OpenType font for Lao, Phetsarath (sample below), under the GNU General Public License. GPL Note Bene: The Phetsarath font is now available for download from the Lao FOSS project on Sourceforge.net managed by Anousak Souphavanh.

ICT4Dev Laos Phetsarath font

Another excellent Lao Unicode font is Dr. John Durdin's carefully hinted Saysettha Unicode Open Type font is available which is available for free from Tavultesoft's Lao Script for Windows download page.

Jason Glavy has produced a number of interesting fonts, including Lao Unicode fonts. All of his fonts can be downloaded and used for free in a non-profit context. His Asian fonts, including the Lao Unicode fonts, can be downloaded from here. The Lao Unicode fonts are now OpenType fonts which work in OpenOffice 2.1 and MS Office 2003 and above. In older applications (such as Office XP on Windows XP) these fonts may not be usable because the positioning of the tone marks may collide with superscript vowels.


The Parabaik Unicode Project has just released ParabaikSans under the OFL OFL and GPL GPL licenses. The project has also released a keyboard layout for Windows. The project is sponsored by the Myanmar IT solutions provider Solveware Solutions.

This past May (2006) the Prahita project released version 0.6.0 of their Myanmar module for Pango along with an OpenType font, MasterpieceUniSans, that will work with this module. The Prahita group wishes to extend their sincere thanks to Ko Tin Myo Htet for his important contributions and also to Jeans Herden, author of the Khmer shaper module, and to Javier Sola for his support and guidance. Contact Ngwe Tun (ngwestar at gmail dot com) for additional information.

Prahita Myanmar localized Gnome Desktop and Firefox screenshot

MyaZedi provides Unicode-based solutions for the Myanmar IT market. According to Ngwe Tun at MyaZedi.com, their MyaZedi_M17n.ttf font is "free for personal, academic, and non-profit use." For commercial licenses, contact MyaZedi at solveware@myanmar.com.mm. Myazedi has recently also released two new OpenType fonts, Maykha and Malikha (at www.fontmm.com) --these fonts are freely downloadable trial versions of a commercial product. MyaZedi now has a new professional-looking web site. The MyaZedi font version 1.2 is available under an Open Source license and the company has now also released version 2.0 under a commercial license.

The open source UniBurma project aims to provide high-quality Myanmar Unicode keyboard layout, fonts, and software translations for the Myanmar (Burmese) language. On September 13, 2005, UniBurma released an alpha version of their new Unicode-compliant GPL'ed UniBurma font. The font is provided in both OpenType and TrueType formats. The project has also released keyboard layouts for Mac and Windows and is working on a keyboard layout for GNU/Linux.

SIL International's Graphite project is a Free and Open Source Software complex text layout (CTL) engine. Many Indic and Indic-derived scripts, such as Myanmar, require a complex text layout engine to handle glyph reordering, ligatures, substitutions, and other features of these scripts. As of this writing, SIL had released a beta version of Padauk, a Graphite-enabled Burmese font .

Note that correct rendering of Myanmar language using this font requires Graphite. Thanks to the great work of Daniel Glassey, the integration of Graphite into Pango is now (2006.04.19) almost complete. Frank Yung-Fong Tang and Keith Stribley's SILA project which seeks to integrate SIL Graphite into Mozilla.org's popular Firefox browser and Thunderbird email client has now released Graphite-enabled versions for Windows. The Firefox 1.5+ code base now has built-in support for Pango, so standard GNU/Linux builds in combination with the Silgraphite Pango Module should render Myanmar and other complex scripts fairly well when Graphite-enabled smart fonts are used. In addition, Graphite-enabled builds of OpenOffice.org 2.0 are now available and the Graphite patch will soon be incorporated into the main OpenOffice.org code base.

Note Bene: fixedsys.org is no longer available on the internet 2006.03.03.

MPH Yangon is an OpenType font for Myanmar released under the GPL by fixedsys.org. According to the author, "MPH Yangon ... works without hacks. It's not perfect, but it gets the job done and doesn't look all that bad."

Philippine Scripts

Unicode 4.0 encodes four scripts used in the Philippines: Tagalog, Hanunoo, Buhid, and Tagbanwa.

Paul Morrow has produced a set of five Baybayin fonts which can be downloaded from his very informative English/Tagalog web site on Philippine history, language, and culture. Four of Morrow's five fonts are based closely on historical typefaces used to print early Philippine books, such as the Doctrina Christiana of 1593, while the fifth represents a modern confluence of the historical calligraphic forms. The Windows TrueType versions of these fonts are Unicode-compliant.

Paul Morrow's Philippine fonts - sample


Samuel Thibault has created a Tagbanwa font and released it under the Creative Commons 2.5 Public License. The font is available from his web site at http://youpibouh.thefreecat.org/download/tagbanwa.zip.

Tai Le

SIL International has released a New Tai Lue (Xishuangbanna Dai 西雙版納傣, ไทลื้อ) font, Dai Banna SIL under SIL's Open Font License OFL. This font is now a unicode font. It has complete coverage of the New Tai Lue script block plus an extra symbol in the PUA that SIL believes needs to be added to unicode. The font contains graphite tables required for proper vowel reordering. (Note that Graphite integration into OpenOffice 2.3 is forthcoming). Support for OpenType is possible, but as of this writing (2007.12.14), no OpenType shapers are known to exist for the Tai Le script.

DaiBannaSIL Font sample

Darien Valentine crafted a pleasing Unicode font for Tai Le called Tai Le Valentinium. On his web site, the author of this font previously stated, "This is, quite simply, the best font I have ever created." Unfortunately, the author's web site, fixedsys.org is no longer available. However, this font can still be obtained from WAZU JAPAN's Gallery of Unicode Fonts at this address.

Tai Le Valentium by Darien Valentine


The Thai National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC ศูนย์เทคโนโลยีอิเล็กทรอนิกส์และคอมพิวเตอร์แห่งชาติ) provides a set of high-quality national fonts released under the GPL. Stacked vowels and especially the tone marks like U+0E48 MAI EK (◌่) and U+0E49 MAI THO (◌้) are placed correctly in these fonts (this is not the case in the pan-Unicode Bitstream Cyberbit font). The national fonts include Garuda, Kinnari, and Norasi. Loma is a newer font also distributed under the GPL that is quite good for web browsers and other online viewing applications. NECTEC does not appear to provide an online distribution center themselves. Instead, try the ThaiFonts-Scalable project which serves as a repository that collects all available free Thai fonts. According to Theppitak Karoonboonyanan, this site should have the most up-to-date versions of these and other fonts. If you have trouble with that URL, try the following URL of OpenTLE.org. Another possibility is OpenTLE's ftp site here.

Nectec sample


VN.net hosts a a group of “designed-for-Vietnamese” Unicode fonts. These fonts have proper diacritic positioning and the increased linespacing required for readable Vietnamese typography. Fonts which are currently available on the site include the Tri-Chlor set, and the Web Fonts set. These font sets feature the 134 Vietnamese glyphs (ký tự Việt trong Unicode) and additional 38 Pali-Sanskrit Glyphs (ký tự Phạn Pali-Sanskrit trong Unicode) required by the Unicode Standard. Float marks, the euro and Vietnamese đồng currency symbols, and the Buddhist wheels, U+ee80 and U+ee81, are also included.

For writing the ancient Chinese-based writing system, vn.net hosts the Han Nom font set developed by Chan Nguyen Do Quoc Bao, To Minh Tam, and Ni sinh Thien Vien Vien Chieu.

Bhikkhu Pesala, an English Buddhist monk at the Association for Insight Meditation has created a derivative of the Bitstream Vera fonts called Verajja Bitstream Vera Font License. “Verajja” is a Pāli word meaning “a variety of kingdoms or provinces,” and the font contains all of the characters required for Pali, Vietnamese, and many other languages. The font has been recently updated to provide better support for Vietnamese.

Štěpán Roh integrated a number of the Verajja glyphs into the better-publicised Bitstream Vera derivative known as DejaVu Bitstream Vera Font License. However, I am not sure if the more recent improvements in the positioning of Vietnamese diacritics in the latest versions of Verajja are also going to be incorporated into DejaVu or not.

Clytie Siddall of the Vietnamese free-software translation team (nhóm Việt hóa phần mềm tự do) has an excellent treatise comparing Unicode fonts for Vietnamese in which she highlights the vn.net typographer Hùng's Vu Phu Tho font as an example of how Vietnamese diacritics should look. Although this font is not currently available on the vn.net site, we are encouraging the author to put it up on the site again.


Stix Fonts project logo

The Scientific and Technical Information Exchange (STIX) font project aims to create a comprehensive set of fonts that will serve the scientific and engineering communities in the process from manuscript creation through final publication, both in electronic and print formats. The STIX fonts project currently has 8,041 glyphs and is currently undergoing a thorough review. According to the project, "The new anticipated date for the beta test to begin is late October (2006). We regret this delay, but feel that it is necessary and will reduce the number of changes that need to be made after the beta period concludes and prior to the first production release, which is still scheduled to occur before the end of December 2006." It sounds like they want to release it in time to catch at least a little bit of the Christmas market ...

The fonts will be made available under a royalty-free license to anyone, including publishers, software developers, scientists, students, and the general public. If they ever release the font, that is ... (those of you following this saga will know that the release has been delayed repeatedly).


Please note that many fonts appropriate for scholarly work, such as the SIL International and Society for Biblical Literature fonts, already appear in the script-specific sections of this guide. They are not repeated here.

In addition to the fonts listed below, scholars will also want to take a look at the Medieval Unicode Font Initiative project, the Thesaurus Indogermanischer Text- und Sprachmaterialien (TITUS) project (which includes the TITUS Cyberbit Basic font (requires registration to download for personal use)), the Junius-Unicode font for medievalists (Junicode) project, and of course Deborah Anderson's Script Encoding Initiative at the Department of Linguistics, University of California at Berkeley.

David J. Perry's Cardo font is a large Unicode font designed to meet the needs of classicists, Biblical scholars, medievalists, and linguists. The font is based on the typeface cut for the Renaissance printer Aldus Manutius and first used to print Pietro Bembo’s book, De Aetna. In addition to Latin and extended Latin, the font provides coverage of IPA characters, spacing and combining diacritical marks, Greek, Coptic, extended Greek, Hebrew, old Italic, and ancient Greek numbers and musical notation, among others. The font is free for personal, non-commercial, and non-profit use.

Juan-José Marcos' Alphabetum font is a large Unicode font covering more than 4000 characters in the most recent version. Although the full font is not free, costing €15 for individual registration, a demo version of the font lacking about 500 glyphs present in the full font can be downloaded for free. Coverage is provided for classic and medieval Latin, ancient Greek, Old Italic-Etruscan, Oscan, Umbrian, Faliscan, Messapic, Picene-Gothic, Iberian, Celtiberian, old and middle English, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Runic, Ogham, Ugaritic, Old Persian cuneiform, Phoenician, Linear B, Cypriot, Aegean numbers, old and medieval Nordic.

Juan-José Marcos has also released a series of paleographic fonts for the Latin script which, like the Alphabetum font, are not free but a free demo package with assorted missing glyphs is available.


In addition to the fonts listed below, readers interested in contemporary and historical Latin fonts for artistic and professional graphic use will want to check out Vitaly Friedman's blog article, 25 Best License-Free Quality Fonts. Friedman himself recommends Gerrit van Aaken’s essays collection, Freie Schriften im Portrait (free fonts in a portrait). Graphics professionals certainly won't want to miss either of these sites.

Arkandis Digital Foundry

The Arkandis Digital Foundry offers a great collection of high quality Latin fonts in PostScript and TrueType/OpenType formats for professional publication and graphic work released under the AFPL and GPL with font exception licenses. The collection originated a few years ago with ADF's typographer's desire to have a set of quality fonts for artistic endeavors that could serve as an alternative to expensive commercial fonts. An informative guide en français is available. Professional and aspiring graphic artists alike should not miss the opportunity to download this excellent collection of free fonts.

John Stracke has developed two Unicode fonts with a substantial number of non-ASCII characters in the Latin-1, Latin Extended A, Latin Extended B, and Latin Extended Additional blocks: Isabella is based on the on the calligraphic hand used in the Isabella Breviary, made around 1497, in Holland, for Isabella of Castille, the first queen of united Spain.. Essays 1743 is based on the typeface used in a 1743 English translation of Montaigne's Essays. Both fonts are released under the LGPL license.

John Stracke's fonts, Isabella and Essays 1743

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