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1. A Survey of Free and Commercial 3rd Party Chinese Fonts
This survey assumes you're already aware of:
Free Chinese Fonts
- BabelStone Han - a free open source Unicode font that one day will contain all of CJK Extension A, Extension B, and Extension C, and already contains all of Extension D! I know of no other Chinese font project like this, free or not.
- HanaMin Regular, a.k.a. "Hanazono Min" - a Japanese font, but I mention it here in case you need a rare character not found in BabelStone Han, because this is a similarly comprehensive project that may be ahead on some CJK Extensions.
- Wazu (including a free - but not entirely complete - Hanzi/Zhuyin ruby font)
- University of Heidelberg (link seems to be gone, try Abacus Chinese Translation)
- 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
So what does "Pinyin Joe" pay for? I own the Dynafont TrueType 28 package described below.
I use it primarily for the ruby text fonts (Pinyin and Zhuyin above or alongside Chinese characters). I show examples of those ruby fonts here.
Commercial Chinese font package descriptions follow (most are in need of an update...coming soon...)
The Arphic Unifonts packages include TrueType fonts for English, Chinese, Japanese or Korean versions of Windows XP, each including almost 100 traditional fonts in "Big 5" encoding (see Encoding Standards) and 12 simplified fonts in Big 5 and GB2312 encoding.
Most Arphic Unifonts packages include at least a couple of GB18030 or "Unicode" font sets in each package. Arphic is committed to the new standard and they are migrating all their packages to 100% GB18030. Some of the older packages include rare Taiwan and Hong Kong encodings, and many Arphic packages include several fonts for Japanese, Korean and European languages.
The developers claim that these TrueType fonts work with Adobe Acrobat and other Adobe applications where you might otherwise expect problems. Last time I checked, the average full Unifont package was about US $200.
Arphic Office Unifonts is a lower-priced subset of the full Unifont packages. Although obviously targeted at users of Microsoft Office, this package also supports the major Adobe applications, including Acrobat. These sets always include the same proportion of traditional vs. simplified Chinese fonts, and often one or two other Japanese, Korean or European fonts. The latest packages include at least two GB18030 font sets, and one "Unicode" package focuses on that standard exclusively. Depending on the size and publishing date, these "Office" packages go for US $70 to US $150 each.
The Avector Traditional Chinese 44 AV TrueType Supreme package of 44 beautiful fonts includes all the basics and more, in fact more than you may need unless you're a professional. Only traditional fonts, only in Big 5 encoding. I last saw it priced at approximately US $350.
The China Dragon 70 Traditional Chinese TrueType package includes 30 traditional and 20 simplified fonts. All are in Big 5, including the simplified fonts. This beautiful collection is clearly for professional publishers working only in Big 5. Last seen at approximately US $300.
Chinese Plus, from Kingsoft, is an input method and utility package that also includes thirty traditional and simplified TrueType fonts licensed from Founder. (A seperate font package from Founder is listed in this section, below). See the Input Methods and Tools section for more information on Chinese Plus application packages.
Chinese Star, from Beijing Chinese Star Cyber Technology Ltd., is an input method and utility package that also comes with sixteen TrueType fonts in both traditional and simplified versions. See the Input Methods and Tools section for more information on Chinese Star application packages.
DynaComware (combining the brands DynaFont and DynaLab, and in Chinese known as Hua Kang), offers some fonts via individual download for as little as US $25, and also provides some combination packages that are worth looking at.
The Dynafont TrueType 28 package (AZ 28) is targeted at North American users, and the cost is only about US $50. It certainly has useful features for teachers. The package contains traditional and simplified characters, plus fonts with Pinyin and Zhuyin (Bopomofo) "ruby" characters next to the hanzi characters. 28 fonts total: 18 traditional fonts and 7 simplified fonts (including one in the GB18030 encoding standard), plus Pinyin-over-traditional, Pinyin-over-simplified, and Zhuyin-alongside-traditional ruby fonts.
Last time I checked, the TrueType 28 package was distributed in North America by PenPower. It contains mostly traditional fonts but also rounds out the basic set of Windows simplified fonts with Kai, Yuan and Wei Bei in both GB2312 and Big 5 encoding, plus Fangsong in GB18030 (for a total of seven simplified fonts).
Dynacomware offers more packages of simplified and traditional Chinese TrueType and OpenType fonts, ranging from 30 to over 300 fonts. There are more Pinyin/Zhuyin sets, calligraphic fonts, even a set of self-generating screen fonts for the Web. Prices range from US $80 to over US $300 per set.
Founder (Fang Zheng) is a major vendor of publishing solutions in the PRC. I've found one Founder font package for sale in the US, with over 50 traditional and 50 simplified TrueType fonts, including all the basics plus a wide range of professional fonts as well, in GB encoding for approximately US $120. (Some Founder fonts are also included in the Chinese Plus package listed under Third-Party Input Methods and Tools .)
Hanyi offers several unique fonts for only US $15 via download, and also offers a package of over 50 traditional and 50 simplified TrueType fonts in for approximately US $120. These are all in GB encoding, and many are truly beautiful and creative.
The boxed set includes basic Song and Hei plus their own versions of all the rest. The package is hard to resist, although I'm not certain when I'd use the font with the snow on top. Take a look.
I don't know much about this company, and I have not personally reviewed their fonts, but I should point out that their packages may be a very good value.
The Huaxia Classical Chinese Fonts package actually includes the basic Song, Hei, Kai and Fangsong, as well as Wei Bei and other popular fonts. You have to get much further into the collection, especially the second of the two packages, before you begin to feel particularly "classical".
Approximately US $50 for the first set of 42 fonts and US $90 for the second set which contains 128 fonts. In Big 5, GB and Unicode.
Monotype focuses primarily on the Macintosh platform, but I have found one US $500 package for Windows containing 24 simplified and 18 traditional fonts, all in GB encoding. All the basics and a range of professional publishing fonts as well. But why $500? Monotype has a good reputation I know, but maybe I need some education because I can't see a $500 difference here.
TwinBridge offers a US $20 package of fonts for users of their Chinese Partner and CJK Partner products that adds two Pinyin fonts (one Pinyin alone and one Pinyin-over-characters), as well as Yuan, Kai, Fangsong and Hei fonts in GBK encoding that add a lot of characters and nicely round out your standard set. This is in addition to the 49 TrueType fonts that are included with their Partner packages. See the Input Methods and Tools section for more information on TwinBridge.
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