This guide focuses on addressing font issues within the Windows XP environment. It will be useful for anyone who regularly uses characters beyond those used in western European languages.
It is important when choosing fonts for non-Roman characters such as Greek and Hebrew, and for special characters used in scientific transliteration, that you use a font where no licensing issues or cost implications are going to cause problems for you either sharing your files with a supervisor or, more importantly, with a publisher or journal.
There are two main approaches for displaying non-Roman or transliteration characters:
Both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses.
The ‘true-type' approach is the more familiar, and the current BibleWorks version (6.0) makes use of such fonts.
The difficulty here is that the specialist Greek and Hebrew true-type fonts map the characters to different positions on the keyboard (compare Bwhebb and SPTiberian, for example). Also, for Hebrew, controlling the line-breaks in phrases is a major headache.
The converse of this holds true for the Unicode approach. Every Unicode font maps characters to the same ‘keyboard' location, so in that sense it doesn't matter which Unicode font you use: if it contains the characters, they will display (and print!) properly.
However, the method of inputting Unicode characters can present a challenge. There is a short, sharp learning curve to be encountered.
The best long-term solution, however, is almost certain to be the Unicode approach. Both systems are described below, but the lion's share of attention goes to the Unicode system.
Fonts with tiny finishing marks at the ends of letters (like Times New Roman), are serif fonts, and those without them (like Arial) are sans serif (without serifs) fonts. These are both proportional width fonts, since a narrow character takes up less space than a wide one.
Fonts which maintain a consistent width for all characters, regardless of whether they might be naturally narrow or wide, are called monospaced fonts. Courier New is the most widely used such font on Windows systems.
More information on Unicode fonts.
Additional information on using Unicode.
More information on legacy fonts.
This article was published on Jan 14, 2010