More Chinese Fonts & Apps
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1. A Survey of Free and Commercial 3rd Party Chinese Fonts
This survey assumes you're already aware of:
The latest Windows fonts include Cantonese and many rare literary characters, including a much improved SimSun font for those using mainland/Singapore input and encoding, and expanded MingLiU / PMingLiU fonts for Taiwan/HK/Macau encoding, but in the latter you must manually enable the extended character sets for Traditional Chinese.
If you're looking for particularly rare characters, a free tool for Windows called BabelMap can tell you which of your fonts contain a specific character. Scholars should also see my FAQ on working with ancient, classical, and rare Chinese characters.
Free Chinese Fonts
- Ruby text fonts with Zhuyin or Pinyin pronunciation:
HanWang Zhuyin ruby fonts in Traditional Kai (楷體) and Ming (明體) and characters, with Bopomofo on the right. Download and install all files starting with "wp" for all alternate pronunciations (poyin zi). Many thanks to Chris Underwood for pointing me to the link above! If that one disappears, try this link or do a search for "王漢宗48套字型" and please let me know.
FangZheng Pinyin ruby font in Simplified Kai (楷体) characters, with Pinyin on the top. This "collection" file will install six fonts starting with "FZKTPY" with all alternate pronunciations (poyin zi). Look for a "下载" button on that download page. You will need the free 7-Zip program or similar utility to extract from the ".rar" file. If this link disappears, just do a search for "方正楷体拼音字库" or "FZKTPY", and please let me know.
I am often asked for help finding Traditional character + Pinyin ruby fonts, or more comprehensive Traditional+Zhuyin and Simplified+Pinyin fonts. See this article for examples of ruby fonts you can buy.
- Fonts with the most classical, literary, and other rare characters:
BabelStone Han is a Song/Ming (宋体/明體) font with many hard-to-find Chinese characters , though it is not yet complete in some basic ranges. An ongoing project, the last time I checked it covered most Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs, large portions of Extensions A and B, all of Extensions C and D, a good chunk of Extension E, plus all CJK compatibility ideographs.
There is also a BabelStone Han PUA font that will offer characters not yet in the Unicode Standard. When those characters are accepted into Unicode, then the main font catches up.
The creator of BabelStone Han, Andrew West, has been making steady progress towards the goal of covering every Unicode CJK character and many general Unicode characters as well, using open-source Arphic fonts. I know of no other Chinese font project like this, free or commercial.
HanaMin (花園明朝), a.k.a. "Hanazono Min", is a Japanese Mincho (明朝, Song/Ming) font containing over 96,000 Kanji/Hanzi. I mention it here in case you need a rare character not found in the fonts listed above, because this is a similarly comprehensive project that was the first to cover all Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs through Extension E.
- The world's first open-source pan-CJK font:
Adobe Source Han Sans
(思源黑體), jointly developed with Google and also released as
Google Noto Sans CJK,
contains 65,535 Chinese, Japanese, and Korean (CJK) glyphs in multiple weights, with all languages together or in separate files. It is a Hei (黑体/黑體) San Serif typeface, for user interface (UI) environments and other appropriate screen and print uses. I think it is beautiful, even if it is not the traditional typeface for Chinese body text.
Source Han Sans is similar to the Adobe Source Sans Pro font (with some differences ), and I hope in the future there will be a Song/Ming (宋体/明體) CJK font similar to Source Serif Pro too.
Dr. Ken Lunde's Source Han Sans release notes (PDF) state that the Simplfied Chinese set includes all of the Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs and CJK Extension A, plus 199 characters representing small portions of Extensions B through E and three newly proposed characters, while the Traditional Chinese set includes all Taiwan Big 5, Hong Kong SCS-2008, and ETen characters, which as I understand it means most of Unicode CJK Unified and Extension A, plus significant portions of CJK Extension B.
Download instructions for Source Han Sans / Noto Sans CJK:
An Adobe TypeKit account (which can be linked with Creative Cloud) is free, and may be the easiest way to manage these fonts and stay up-to-date.
The Google Noto Sans CJK page is the second-easiest method. Just click the links that say (last time I checked) "S Chinese" and/or "T Chinese" to download. It is usually updated within days of the Adobe sites.
The Adobe GitHub page for this font offers free direct downloads of the latest version, often before it is posted elsewhere, in individual files or as large batches by weight or language, and contains many items of interest to specialists. (See "If you use the Adobe GitHub site.." below.)
The unofficial Source Han Sans mirror on CodePlex is available for those who are unable to access GitHub, Google, or Adobe sites and services.
If you use the Adobe GitHub site, I suggest you download by language. Change the "branch" drop-down menu from "Master" to "Release", and then either (a) use the button on the right side of the page that says "Download as Zip" to get the entire massive collection in one file, or (b) navigate to each file in the list and right-click to download them individually.
The files on GitHub and the mirror site are organized as follows:
- OTC: all languages together, one file for each weight,*
- OTF: separate files for Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, in each weight,
- Subset OTF: separate files for the regional needs of users in Taiwan, mainland China, Japan, and Korea (a Hong Kong version is planned), in each weight,
- Super OTC: one Zip file containing all languages in all weights,* and
- other stuff, most of which is only for specialists.
*OTC (OpenType Collection) files do not work in Windows.
OTF (OpenType Font) files work in all systems.
The basic "OTF" Simplified and/or Traditional Chinese files are what most users of this site will probably want.
To install these fonts:
If you have an Adobe Creative Cloud account, you can automatically sync these fonts to your desktop. If you have directly downloaded the Google or Adobe files, do the following in Windows: after downloading open the folder containing the fonts you want, select them all, and hit <Enter>. Then click the "Install" button for each. If you need more help with this, or with Mac/Linux/etc. installation, feel free to contact me.
Wazu Japan's Gallery of Unicode Fonts in many languages
Abacus Chinese Translation is hosting University of Heidelberg fonts
OLPC directory of free traditional Chinese fonts
Wenquanyi Open Source CJK Font Project (English home page)
Wenquanyi Open Source CJK Font Project (中文 home page)
Hán Nôm - a GB standard TrueType font created by the VietUnicode project. Supports Extension B. On the VietUnicode Sourceforge page, look in the "Hannom" folder. HannomH.zip is the best version. Hannom.zip is low-res for older systems. Install both font files, HAN NOM A.ttf and HAN NOM B.ttf
See also Alan Wood's directories of Unicode fonts for:
Commercial Chinese Fonts
"Pinyin Joe" owns the Dynafont TrueType 28 package. I use it primarily for the ruby text fonts (examples here). It was distributed in North America by PenPower but I can't find it for sale anymore. Other font packages with Pinyin and Zhuyin ruby fonts include Arphic's "Dr. Zhuyin" package, and the Dynafont 2010 HK edition.
Adobe (see my section on the free Source Han Sans above)
Arphic Technology (文鼎科技, Taiwan)
DynaComware / Dynalab / Dynafont (華康科技, Hong Kong)
Founder (北大方正信息产业集团, Beijing)
Hanyi (北京汉仪科印信息技术有限公司, Beijing)
Monotype Hong Kong Ltd.
SinoType (常州华文印刷新技术有限公司, Changzhou, PRC)*
ZhongYi (中易中标电子信息技术有限公司, Beijing)
Linotype is also a leading foundry, but does not design Chinese fonts. Linotype is however a distributor for others (see below).
The Microsoft Typography group licenses and resells Chinese fonts from Dynacomware, Monotype, SinoType, and ZhongYi via Fonts.com (see below).
*SinoType doesn't seem to have a website, but they are leading type designers and were key partners with Adobe in developing Source Han Sans. Adobe, Apple, Amazon, Google, IBM, and Microsoft include SinoType Chinese fonts in their products, as do millions of Chinese TV set-top boxes and other electronic devices.
The Arphic Online Chinese language website accepts orders for retail boxed sets. The Arphic main site (see previous section) offers OEM licensing and web fonts.
The DynaShop section of the English language Dynalab website offers direct downloads of Dynalab fonts. OEM licensing and packages are also described on the site. (See also DynaComware link in previous section.)
Fonts.com distributes fonts from site owner Monotype and subsidiaries Ascender and ChinaType, as well as Dynacomware, Microsoft, and others.
Linotype distributes fonts from Dynacomware, Hanyi, & Monotype.
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