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Chinese Fonts Included
in Microsoft Windows XP

The US version of Windows XP includes the following Chinese fonts, available after you enable East Asian language support:

SimSun*  Simplified Song, proportional
NSimSun  Simplified Song, monospaced
SimHei  Simplified/Traditional Hei, monospaced
PMingLiU*  Traditional Xi Ming (Song), proportional
MingLiU  Traditional Xi Ming (Song), monospaced

An asterisk (*) marks the Chinese fonts that will come up by default when you start typing. This can be changed in your Settings. "Proportional" vs. "monospaced" refers only to non-Chinese items in these fonts, like Latin letters and Japanese kana.

Some Western fonts can also display Pinyin with tone marks. For more information on those fonts, and an MS Word macro to make typing them quite easy, see the Pinyin macro page

The Song font listed above is the standard Chinese printing typeface, named after the Song dynasty when it may have originated. Hei is the standard headline font, "dark"/"black" just like its name.

The names of these fonts are confusing because Microsoft bought the simplified and traditional fonts from two different vendors. "Xin"/"New" is proportional in one set but monospaced in the other. For most purposes you will want to use the default proportional Song fonts, SimSun and PMingLiU.

So what's missing?

  • Replacements for SimSun and NSimSun with more characters have been available since 2001. "SimSun 18030" conforms to the current PRC government standard, GB 18030, which supports a larger portion of Unicode. Microsoft could not sell XP in mainland China without it, but did not include this in other country versions of Windows until Vista and Win7. Elsewhere on this site I have more info about GB code, but all you really need to know is that you can download the SimSun 18030 update from Microsoft. Open new web page/tab

  • Replacements for MingLiu and PMingLiu are also available to keep you current with the versions of those fonts on Windows 7 and Vista, which now support more Unicode characters based on a Hong Kong standard released in 2004. You can ignore any instructions from Microsoft requiring Language Packs or different Locale settings, they are not correct. Just go ahead and install: First enable East Asian languages on your system, then download the MingLiu update from Microsoft. Open new web page/tab The file ending in "x86.exe" is for 32-bit systems; the file ending in "x64.exe" is for 64-bit systems.

  • You have the SimHei headline font with simplified Chinese Heiti characters and a limited set of traditional Chinese Heiti characters. There are not enough characters in this font to cover the larger range of a standard traditional character set.

  • You are missing two standard Chinese fonts that are normally in a basic set: the Kai and Fangsong fonts, which you could say are roughly equivalent to ornate or italic styles. Often a basic set of traditional Chinese fonts include all of the above plus the Weibei and Yuan fonts as well. These fonts are very common, and you should consider a third-party font if you are doing more than just casual e-mail and messaging.

Confused about "proportional" vs. "monospaced"? This refers only to the non-Chinese glyphs contained in each font, like Latin letters and Japanese kana, and does not affect the Chinese characters themselves.

Example of proportional English fonts you may be familiar with are Times and Arial. A monospaced, or non-proportional font, would be old versions of Courier, in which every letter takes up the same amount of space from side-to-side just like the output of a typewriter. (Too bad Dan Rather didn't read this paragraph...)

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