Software & Fonts

Charis SIL

June, 2013

Charis SIL is a Unicode serif font, similar to Bitstream Charter, one of the first fonts designed specifically for laser printers. It is proportionally-spaced and optomized for readability, and holds up well in less-than-ideal reproduction environments.

The goal for this product was to provide a Unicode-based font family that would contain a comprehensive inventory of glyphs needed for almost any Roman- or Cyrillic-based writing system, whether used for phonetic or orthographic needs. In addition, there is provision for other characters and symbols useful to linguists. Over 1,900 characters from the Unicode 5.1 standard are supported, as well as over 200 Private Use Area (PUA) characters. In total, the font contains over 4,600 glyphs, supporting stylistic alternates for a number of characters, as well as a large number of ligated sequences. The font is available in a full set of typefaces - regular, italic, bold, and bold italic.

This font is designed to work on systems and with applications that provide support for TrueType fonts and for Unicode character encoding. It uses Graphite, OpenType, and AAT technologies to support complex typographic issues, such as auto placement of stacking diacritics, and automatic conversion of pitch letter sequences into ligatures. These capabilities are available in any application that supports the Graphite technology. They are also available via the OpenType technology, though this requires applications that provide a sufficient level of support for OpenType features. With AAT applications, only limited combinations of base characters and diacritics will work correctly; beyond the supported set of combinations, diacritic placement may be inferior.

Charis SIL is freely available and may be used by anyone at no cost. It is released under the SIL Open Font License, a free and open source license that permits modification and redistribution.

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