Google and Adobe launch free pan-Asian font

Meet the first-ever open-source font to support Japanese, Chinese and Korean characters.

Pan-Asian font

Adobe and Google have today released a new open source typeface that supports Japanese kanji, Chinese hanzi and Korean hanja characters, as well as Latin, Greek and Cyrillic alphabets.

This means designers no longer have to license multiple fonts to create content for international audiences across languages spoken by an estimated 1.5 billion people.

All in one

Created in collaboration with Asian font foundries Changzhou SinoType, Iwata Corporation, and Sandoll Communication, it's the first open source typeface to support Chinese, Japanese and Korean in one font family.

Pan-Asian font

From left to right: Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean

The font also covers regional variations such as Traditional Chinese (including Taiwan and Hong Kong SAR) and Simplified Chinese. In all, the project partners have designed 65,535 glyphs for each font, the maximum number for the OpenType format.

Two names

The font family is being released under two different names by Adobe and Google. Adobe is releasing it through via its Typekit service, as well as SourceForge and GitHub, as Source Han Sans. Meanwhile Google is releasing the font under the name Noto Sans CJK as part of its Noto pan-Unicode font family.

The family is available in seven weights in full fonts, as well as region-specific subsets, equaling a total of 42 typefaces, designed for screen devices and print.

Pan-Asian font

Drawing which shows modifications made to some of the characters to improve quality

Pan-Asian font

Ideograph U+9AA8 ("bone"). From left to right: Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Japanese/Korean (shared)

Pan-Asian font

Multi-language sample

Pan-Asian font

An early draft of a Kanji character

Pan-Asian font

Original sketch by type designer Ryoko Nishizuka

Will you be using the new font? Let us know in the comments!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design and technology. He was previously associate editor at Creative Bloq and deputy editor at net magazine, the world’s best-selling magazine for web designers. Over two decades in journalism he’s worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella. Follow him on Twitter @tom_may.