Favorite Pali fonts for Romanized text

I’m interested to collect people’s favorite fonts that display all the Pali glyphs in the Roman alphabet. I’ve made it in the wiki category so if people like they can edit this post in addition to leaving comments/discussion. [Mods please move if this is not appropriate.

Pali Fonts for the Roman alphabet.

A Pāli font should include all of the following letters

Ā ā Ī ī Ū ū Ṅ ṅ Ṭ ṭ Ḍ ḍ Ṇ ṇ Ñ ñ ḷ ṁ

Please create a section for fonts that offer these letters

NOTE: Google Fonts may be out of date. Search for the original authors if needed.

:white_heart: EB Garamond

On Github. Wikipedia page

Recommended by Bhante @sujato

:white_heart: Source Pro family



On Github Sanserif | Code(Mono) | Serif

Recommended by Bhante @sujato ( also on Typekit.com, typographica.org)

:white_heart: Heuristica

image

On Fontsquirrel.com

:white_heart: Cormorant

On Google Fonts | Official page | Github

Faces

  • Cormorant
  • Cormorant Garamond
  • Cormorant Infant
  • Cormorant Small Caps
  • Cormorant Upright
  • Cormorant Unicase

Free

:white_heart: Gentium

Google Fonts has two versions of Gentium

Free
Official Website

According to Google Fonts

The Gentium Basic font family is based on the original Gentium design, but with additional weights. The family comes with a complete regular, bold, italic and bold italic set of fonts.

The supported character set, however, is much smaller than for the main Gentium Plus fonts. These “Basic” fonts support only the Basic Latin and Latin-1 Supplement Unicode ranges, plus a selection of the more commonly used extended Latin characters, with miscellaneous diacritical marks, symbols and punctuation. In particular, these fonts do not support full extended Latin IPA, complete support for Central European languages, Greek and Cyrillic. Please see the Gentium project homepage for more details.

The Gentium Book Basic family is very similar but has a slightly darker weight.

:white_heart: Fira

Official Website

A nice feature of Fira is that it comes in three widths and 9 weights.

However, the Mono face does not include Pali letters.

Originally commissioned for Mozilla, it is now its own project. New development is on a branch called FiraGo

Arima Koshi & Madurai

By ndiscover.com
8 weights. Free. Available as a Google Font, but there it is missing the ṁ

Sanserif

Runners up—Incomplete coverage

Threads on D&D related to fonts

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Usually I would just use Gentium for Pali, but I’ve started to play with Cormorant. It has the most faces of any Pali-complete font I have found. It also has several weights, including light and semi-bold.

Has anyone else used it?

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I like Gentium too, but the one I have on my computer has only two styles: regular and italic. Do you know if there’s one available that has bold as well?

It appears that the ones on Google Fonts (I updated the OP) have the bold weight but have a smaller character set. I’m sure Bhante @sujato would know more.

I’d also love to hear Bhante @sujato 's opinion on Cormorant.

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It seems you’ll have to use Gentium Basic which should still support all the Pāli characters

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Hey y’all well here we go.

Pro tip: the fonts on Google Fonts are often out of date, so download them direct from the source if you can.

Cormorant is a beautiful Garamond-style font, but note that it’s meant as a display font, so it may be a little delicate for some purposes. (FYI, “Garamond” is the name of a famous type designer from Renaissance Paris, and Garamond fonts are based on his work. The “Garamond” you have on your Windows machine is just one version, and not a very good one.)

As a Garamond more suitable for body text, I’d recommend EB Garamond. It’s lovely!

For Gentium, unfortunately the project seems to have been abandoned in a somewhat unfinished state.

  • Gentium Plus is the latest version, but it lacks bold and bold italic.
  • Gentium basic has bold and bold italic, but has a smaller character set and lacks some refinements in kerning, etc.

For general use, use Gentium Basic. For fancy typography (a book for example), use Gentium Plus by default and Gentium Basic for bold.


The most well-designed and broadly capable free font is the Source Pro family. They are an open source family developed over many years by Adobe. They form a robust, highly legible, and flexible set of fonts. I use them as my default fonts for everything these days.

  • Available in sans, serif, and monospace. Mix and match as you like, the metrics and weights will harmonize.
  • Variable fonts give you complete control over weights, or use the older forms if you like.
  • All the characters and bling you need.
  • It also has a stunning CJK version, which we use on SC.
  • The metrics also harmonize with Google’s Noto fonts, so if you need to use them with more exotic scripts, such as Sinhala, Thai, or Brahmi, these will also work well out of the box.

Get them direct from the repo.

Some background on the design:


Another capable and well-designed font is Heuristica. Based on Robert Slimbach’s Utopia, it has a sturdy and unflashy design suitable for body text and book design.


More flavorful, but unfortunately lacking the ṁ character, are Alegreya and Piazzola from Huerta Tipografica. I’ve used Alegreya for several books, and am looking for an opportunity to try Piazzola. These are delightful for less technical contexts where the lack of ṁ can be worked around: flyers, book covers, or general-purpose text with only occasional Pali.

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Thanks for all that Bhante. I knew we would see you here soon :slight_smile:

Have you ever tried asking them to add the ṁ? FWIW, those two fonts do seem to have the m-under dot. Do you have an opinion about diy adding glyphs to fonts?

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No, although it wouldn’t hurt. They seem like nice folks!

Usually people determine the characters in their fonts by sets of characters, under the assumption that such-and-such a range of characters supports such-and-such languages. Unfortunately ṁ falls into a less-widely supported set of languages than ṃ.

I don’t have a problem with it. Just get Font Forge, copy the glyph over and cut and paste the dot into the right point. Easy peasy. I mean it’s barely an alteration, just moving a dot around.

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Bhante @sujato, I was also wondering about your opinion on Noto And Fira. Personally Fira is my go to for a lot of graphic design since it has lots of weights and both condensed and compact faces.

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Yes, both nice fonts.

I always feel like the Latin Noto is a bit bland, lacking character, so I haven’t used it much. But there is of course no rival when it comes to character support. I have always wanted to use their Brahmi to offer Brahmi support on SC!

Fira is a great, clear and no-nonsense design; it’s the official font of the NZ government, so that can’t be a bad thing. :new_zealand:

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I just visited the site of the designer and see that it is now independent of the Mozilla project. Also that future development is on a new font called FiraGo. It covers more languages and font features, although sadly only one width. It’s comissened by here.com.

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Just to update this thread with my own experience: After much experimentation with different fonts and such, OBU now uses EB Garamond as the main font with Noto Serif as a backup for e.g. Chinese characters. The main thing EB Garamond has that others lacked was support not only for the full Sanskrit / Pali alphabet, but also for Vietnamese which is Roman enough to need to be supported by the same font to look good inline (unlike, e.g. ภาษาไทย which can fallback to another font without looking too bad).

An important thing I learned about during my journey was Unicode normalization. Many fonts (including all the Google Fonts, see Bhante’s note above about them being out-of-date) do support normalized (NFC) accented characters but may not support denormalized (NFD) Unicode. Know what format your text is in (normalize if necessary) and make sure to test the version you need. Sometimes ñ ≠ ñ!

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Is this what you are talking about? My head starts to hurt the more I read.

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Indeed! Yeah. Like many technical topics it’s not nearly as complicated as Wikipedia makes it sound.

Basically, there are two ways ñ can be represented in Unicode: “ñ” or “n+~”

The “ñ” form (where the character is its own separate character, unrelated to “n”) is called the NFC (combined) form and the “n+~” version is called the NFD (decomposed) form. Fonts that support NFD have to know how to combine arbitrary letters (n, o, c, :+1:…) with arbitrary diacritics (~, ^, ’, :white_large_square:…) to produce sensible glyphs (ñ, ô, ć, :+1:t2: …) — a hard task! NFC requires having a huge table of precomposed glyphs.

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Hi all!

I’m a kindle owner and I’m about to start my journey in Early Buddhism texts. I realized that the fonts of my preference do not support Pali characters, so I found this thread and I started testing the suggested solutions.

For some strange reason, some of them (ex. EB Garamond) do not work well with the books I tried on my kindle paperwhite, so after trials and errors I ended up with the following font which I like and have used in the past:

https://software.sil.org/charis/download/

To be more specific, I used the following modification (the first zip which is without weight and unhinted) for e-ink devices:

https://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=184056

Please note that I’m not experienced with Pali, so it’s possible that something is missing and haven’t noticed.

Regards,
Mike

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This is another font (one of my favourites), that I believe is OK for what we need:

On the second page of this PDF you can see the supported characters.

Atkinson Hytperlegible has been created in partnership with the Braille Institute and serves a very important role as it increases legibility for readers with low vision.

I’ve read many books on my e-ink reader with it, and it’s maybe the easiest for the eyes font I’ve ever tried (Lexend Decca and Didact Gothic come after that, but unfortunately they lack many features).

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Wow! And it looks pretty good too! @karl_lew - Maybe this would be a good choice for Voice?

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Perhaps. Lexend is VERY readable. I love it. Will it show Pali? :grimacing: Will it show Japanese, German, French, etc? :cry: Sometimes we are stuck with the lowest common denominator. :scream_cat:

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Shouldn’t be here if it doesn’t! But I wonder if there is a tool for checking language coverage. Babble Map would work for something like Japanese. And I think French and German charaters are all covered by the regular Latin fonts. But they don’t have their own language sets.

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Indeed! Sorry, didn’t mean to suggest otherwise :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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