Fonts for use with Indian and other languages

Here you can find fonts for use with Indian languages and other languages requiring specialist accented characters.

The IndUni fonts are OpenType fonts designed to allow the representation of Indian-language (and similar) material in Roman script using the Unicode character set.

Nakula and Sahadeva are two TrueType/OpenType Unicode Devanagari fonts. Both contain all the conjuncts and other ligatures (including Vedic accents) likely to be needed by Sanskritists.

This site previously also housed fonts implementing various 8-bit character sets that had been in fairly widespread use by Indologists and others with similar requirements: CSX, CSX+ and Norman. The purpose of these was to make specialist accented characters (such as a-macron, t-underdot etc.) available on systems that did not support Unicode. Now that Unicode support is to be found on all standard operating systems, the decision has been taken to withdraw these legacy fonts. They have always raised awkward issues of compatibility, including characters “coming out wrong” and files being untransferable between Macs and PCs; some of them already do not work at all with Word under Mac OS X Tiger; and they are likely to stop working on Windows systems also in the near future. Instead of these outdated fonts, you are recommended to use Unicode fonts containing suitable sets of specialist characters, such as the IndUni fonts.

Word users who have used CSX+ or Norman fonts in the past but who wish to switch to Unicode will want to convert their old files to the new format. Word macros to help them do so are available here, together with other macros to help make the Unicode accented characters easily available. A bonus of moving to Unicode is that Word documents can then be transferred between Macs and PCs without compatibility problems.

Note that, as of Word 2008, Microsoft have withdrawn VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) from the Macintosh release of the program. This means that macros such as those mentioned above will no longer work. Some people are opting not to upgrade to Word 2008 for precisely this reason. However, Krishna Bhamidipati has kindly produced an Applescript equivalent of the CSX+ conversion macro, and this will work under Word 2008. Krishna's work can be found here. If you have queries or problems concerning these, please get in touch with Krishna — krimb1(at)gmail.com — not with me.

Under Mac OS X Tiger, Word (Office 2004 version) does a poor job of rendering the more complex accented characters. This may improve in later releases; an alternative is NeoOffice, a native Mac OS X port of the freeware OpenOffice.org suite, which supports Microsoft's file formats but is generally rather better behaved.

Users of the typesetting system TeX who wish to use legacy 8-bit character sets can continue to do so with impunity, since TeX is itself restricted to 8 bits. Numerous CSX and CSX+ fonts are available for use with TeX. Note however that XeTeX offers all the combined advantages of Unicode and TeX within a single system. Like NeoOffice, it is well worth investigating.

Please email any problems to jds10 <at> cam.ac.uk

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