Typography

Google Noto: One Universal Font Covering 800 Languages

Google Noto

Google Noto

Google has unveiled an open source font family called Noto. It is a universal method for digital communications. You may not have heard of the tofu problems, but surely could have experienced it. When you visit a website that cannot display a particular character, this means that your computer is not recognizing the language. A blank box is displayed on the screen and is called “tofu.” Tofu is frustrating as one cannot share texts in the original scripts. Google Noto aims to solve the problem by providing a font family that supports all languages with a harmonious look and feel.

google noto

Google Noto font family has a character set for each of the 800 languages in the Unicode standard. One is free to use them in hardware, applications as well as web pages. Google says, “The Noto project started as a necessity for Google’s Android and ChromeOS operating systems. When we began, we did not realize the enormity of the challenge. It required design and technical testing in hundreds of languages, and expertise from specialists in specific scripts. In Arabic, for example, each character has four glyphs (i.e., shapes a character can take) that change depending on the text that comes after it. In Indic languages, glyphs may be reordered or even split into two depending on the surrounding text.”

Google Noto is one of the most expansive typographic families and supports 800 languages and 100 scripts in up to eight different weights, special characters and no tofu.

google noto

When one writes in languages such as Hindi, English, Chinese, one does not see tofu as such languages are supported by Unicode. For each language, Noto includes letters in multiple serif and sans serif styles across up to eight weights, numbers, symbols, emoji and musical notation. Noto is named literally for “no more tofu.” The project is one of the biggest typography projects in the recent times.

Google is open source under OFL, implying that designers and developers can contribute to the design of scripts.

You can download the Google Noto fonts from Google for free by clicking here.

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