Google, Monotype release all-encompassing Noto typeface

October 7, 2016 | 08:58

Tags: #unicode

Companies: #google

Google and Monotype have jointly announced the release of one of the most wide-reaching typography projects in history: an attempt to create a single typeface family encompassing all languages.

Dubbed Noto, the aim of Google and Monotype's new typeface is simple: no more tofu, the latter referring to the 'missing glyph' boxes you'll see when your chosen typeface does not have the symbol requested by a document. Noto, by contrast, looks to have every symbol you could possibly need: over the past five years, the two companies have worked to add support for 800 languages and 100 writing scripts, all with a harmonious look-and-feel, plus numbers, symbols, musical notation, and the rapidly-growing collection of 'emojis.'

'We are passionately dedicated to type and helping to advance the use and adoption of type across many cultures, languages and geographies. We are thrilled to have played such an important role in what has become one of the most significant type projects of all time,' crowed Monotype president and chief executive Scott Landers at the unveiling. 'The combination of Monotype’s type expertise and Google’s innovation has proven to be a productive relationship and we look forward to continued collaboration that helps advance the use of type to new places.'

Some of the work, which has taken a team of hundreds of researchers, designers, linguists, cultural experts, and the inevitable project managers five years so far, has been more in-depth than others: adding support for the Tibetan language, for instance, saw a team of researchers analyse a vast trove of writing and other source material followed by a quality control pass from members of a Buddhist monastery who spend their time studying and copying Tibetan manuscripts.

'Even though we prioritise widely used languages, we still want to support other languages, even if there are no people still speaking them,' explained Google's Xiangye Xiao of the project's scope. 'There are some characters you can only see on stones. If you don’t move them to the web, over time those stones will become sand and we’ll never be able to recover those drawings or that writing.'

The Google Noto family is available for free under the Open Font Licence (OFL), from the official website. Its first public release came in July 2014, but it has recently added additional languages and re-licensed from the Apache Licence 2.0 to the Open Font Licence.
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