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Greek fonts area

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Quick check for whether you already have Nanos-compatible Greek fonts on your system

Check if you have one or more of the following fonts on your system:

  • Aisa Unicode
  • Alphabetum
  • Arial Unicode MS
  • Code2000
  • DejaVu Sans
  • DejaVu Serif
  • Gentium
  • GentiumAlt
  • MgOpen Canonica
  • Proson
  • Titus Cyberbit Basic
  • Times New Roman

If you have one of the above fonts on your system, you can use it in Nanos to generate ISO-compliant Greek texts. (Please note: Aisa Unicode, Code2000 and Proson are included with Nanos. For the other fonts, please see below for further information.)

What fonts do you need for Greek text processing?

We are just now barely emerging from a Dark Age when every computer vendor, operating system maker and software developer favoured a different kind of font. This was a time of babylonic confusion when it was either very complicated or outright impossible to share Greek text with anybody else. Printers and publishers had to reformat (read: rewrite) entire books, with the resulting endless correction runs... Digital archives and national digital libraries were pointless, because nobody could read the data, and if they could, it was clear they wouldn't be able to in a few years after creation...

Fortunately, this time is over now. There are now international norms and regulations, organized under the umbrella of the ISO (the International Standards Organization, based in Geneva). There are special ISO norms governing what fonts can be used on computers, operating systems and in software packages. There are also special ISO norms for Greek fonts, and for storing Greek text in text files. These ISO norms rule that Greek fonts have to be a special type of Unicode font, and that operating systems and software packages must be able to read and write Unicode text files, especially a certain type of Unicode text file called "UTF-8".

All modern computer makers, operating system vendors and software developers comply with these international norms and regulations. As a result, there is now a common standard for fonts, including Greek fonts, and for text files, including Greek text files. What is so good about that? Well, you can now exchange Greek text files with anybody you want to, without having to worry about technical details such as incompatible file formats, exotic font types, incomplete character sets, floating-around diacritics or differences between screen display and printed output ...

Thanks to the fact that the organizations behind the Internet also have to adhere to international norms and regulations, it is now also possible to put Greek texts on the web, knowing that everybody can read them. Best of all, you don't even need to install any Greek fonts for that.

And thanks to this brave new world that we are living in, it made sense to write Nanos, a text editor that can run identically on all major computer platforms: Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, Windows, and many other blends of operating systems. Nanos uses the same fonts on all computer platforms, and it outputs exactly the same text files on all these computer platforms. All the fonts and files that Nanos works with also work on all modern computers and operating systems, and they work with all modern software packages. So you can share Nanos-generated text files and all the fonts you use with Nanos with your friends, colleagues or students. Though with one important caveat: commercial fonts cannot legally be shared with users who don't own a license to them. So the people with whom you are sharing your Greek texts will either have to use a non-commercial font (and there are very good ones around), or they need to get a license to a commercial font. Some operating systems, such as all modern varieties of Windows, come with a good Greek font, called Arial Unicode MS. So Windows users normally don't have to worry at all. They can automatically read all Greek texts, using that font.

What makes a Unicode font suitable for Greek text processing?

Unicode fonts are suitable for Greek text processing if they contain the Greek characters. This means in effect that they must contain the characters in the ranges 0370-03FF (the "Greek" character range) and 1F0-1FFF (the "Extended Greek" character range). What is important is that they contain the characters in either -- just one of them won't do.

Unicode fonts are especially suitable for text processing in general if they are in the TrueType format. This is because all other formats require certain additional technologies to be present on the operating system, or in the software package that you are using. Only TrueType fonts are supported without any such add-ons. So we recommend using TrueType fonts only, and strongly recommend only using TrueType fonts in digital archives, libraries and other important data centers. We specifically warn against the use of OpenType fonts, as long as the internal structure of OpenType fonts is not governed unambiguously and completely by ISO norms. If you create Greek data using OpenType fonts, it may not be possible to share data with other users if they use a different operating system or a different software package. Actually, it is still possible if you use Nanos, because Nanos is very careful only to use the ISO-compliant parts of OpenType fonts. However, if you use some other editor to create or edit Greek texts, and if you do so using OpenType fonts, there is a chance that such texts will not conform to international norms and regulations, and so other programs will not be able to work with them. Nanos can open such files, and it filters out all aberrated characters and replaces them with a small rectangle.

Does Nanos come with Greek fonts that comply with international norms and regulations?

Yes. Nanos v. 1.52 comes with the following ISO-compliant Greek Unicode fonts in TrueType format, containing the characters in the Unicode character ranges 0370-03FF (the "Greek" character range) and 1F0-1FFF (the "Extended Greek" character range):

  • Aisa Unicode
  • Code2000
  • Proson

These fonts have been tested and work fine on all operating systems on which Nanos runs, including Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris and Windows.

Does Nanos come with Greek fonts that can be used for professional print publications?

Yes. The Aisa Unicode and Proson fonts contain professionally designed Greek characters. The Proson font is similar to the Porson font used by in the Oxford Classical Text (OCT) editions.

What do the Greek fonts included with Nanos look like?

Click here for screenshots of the fonts that come with Nanos, and for some others which are available free of charge for non-commercial purposes.

What other Greek fonts can I use, over and above those that come with Nanos?

You can use any Unicode font that contains the characters in the Unicode character ranges 0370-03FF (the "Greek" character range) and 1F0-1FFF (the "Extended Greek" character range).

The font technology used to implement the particular Unicode font is not directly relevant for Nanos. As long as the font technology used allows the operating system to provide Unicode fonts to software applications running on it, Nanos should be able to work with fonts built with that technology. This makes the Nanos application practically independent from the font technologies used, now and in future. The Nanos data (the files output by Nanos, and the input read by Nanos) do not even contain any reference to fonts at all. They are therefore entirely independent from fonts and font technologies.

Currently, the most widespread font technologies used are TrueType, PostScript (ATM1), and OpenType. Nanos works with all of these.

Where do I get Greek Unicode fonts?

Nanos comes with the Greek Unicode fonts Aisa Unicode, Code2000, and Proson (all three are in TrueType format and tested successfully with Linux, Mac OS X and Windows).

These fonts are also available through the following links:

Font Link Brief test report
Aisa Unicode Click here for download link. Excellent design, compatible with Linux, Mac OS X and Windows, but no Latin-alphabet characters. Please note: to download this font, you need to download and unpack the (free-of-charge) MultiKey package. Although MultiKey is a Windows application, the Aisa Unicode font works well under Linux and Mac OS X as well, not just under Windows.
Code2000 Click here for download link. Design has been criticized, but very comprehensive font, and compatible with Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.
Proson Click here for direct download. Similar to the font used in the Oxford Classical Texts (OCT) editions. Better than the Porson fonts available online from other sources. Compatible with Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. Strongly recommended!

We wish to express our gratitude to Mr. Stephan Hagel of the Austrian Academy of Sciences for permission to include the Aisa Unicode font with Nanos, and to Mr. James Kass for permission to include the Code2000 font with Nanos.

Other good fonts are the Gentium font family and Titus Cyberbit Basic. We have tested these successfully under Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. They are available online through the following links:

Font Link Brief test report
Gentium Click here for download link. Very attractive design. Two circumflex varieties (Gentium and GentiumAlt font families). Very comprehensive. Compatible with Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. Strongly recommended.
Titus Cyberbit Basic Click here for download link. Good design, apparently with some minor design flaws (a few characters would appear to have sloppily designed diacritics positioning). Very comprehensive. Compatible with Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. Despite the mentioned minor drawbacks, a recommended font.

At the time of writing, these fonts are available free of charge for non-commercial purposes.

The above list only contains fonts that we have tested and found useful.

There is a growing number of Greek Unicode fonts available online free of charge. Not all of them are compatible with all operating systems that Nanos supports, and not all of them are professionally designed. We are planning to test more fonts regularly. Fonts that we find worth recommending will be listed here. Please come back for updates.

A huge and steadily growing number of Greek Unicode fonts of professional quality is available commercially from all relevant font design companies. These are often not directly advertised as Greek Unicode fonts, but as Unicode fonts which contain the Greek character ranges in addition to many other character ranges.

Some operating systems or other software packages come with Greek Unicode fonts. For instance, the Times New Roman font family is included with some operating systems. Certain versions of Microsoft Office come with Arial Unicode MS, a comprehensive font with support for Greek. Adobe Reader version 7.0 (a free download from http://www.adobe.com) comes with Minion Pro, another good font with support for Greek (not automatically installed -- you probably have to install it manually from a subdirectory within the directory where you have installed Adobe Reader version 7.0). Please note that the current version of Minion Pro seems to be formatted in a special proprietary version of the OpenType format which does not pass the Java font test. Minion Pro seems to work fine in Microsoft Word, but it is rejected by Java, and so by Nanos. So you can use it in Microsoft Word on any Greek text that you have written in Nanos, but you cannot use it in Nanos itself.

Please note that we are not responsible for the contents of the websites linked to by the above links. These links are moreover liable to become obsolete over time, so if you should find that one of those links is no longer up-to-date, we would be grateful if you could inform us, so that we can update the link.

How is it possible that Nanos produces perfect diacritics on the screen and on paper, no matter what operating system I have?

Nanos produces perfect diacritics on the screen and on paper, because it uses ready-made characters, each of which contains the base character AND the diacritic(s). You get exactly what the font designer has designed. The results are the same on all operating systems.

Is it true that I can exchange Nanos text files even with people who do not have Nanos? What do I need to do to share Greek texts with such users?

Yes, you can exchange Nanos text files with people who do not have Nanos. What they need is a Greek Unicode font (can be downloaded from this website), an operating system that can handle it (all relevant operating systems do), and a software package that can handle Unicode fonts and Unicode text files (UTF-8 and/or UTF-16). Without Nanos, they are bound to find it hard to edit the text, but they can integrate it in other modern software packages (such as text editors, layouting packages, etc.) and print it from there. For a list of suitable software packages, please click here.

Is it true that Greek texts can be viewed in web browsers, even by users who do not have my Greek fonts?

Yes. Users must be able to display UTF-8 encoded HTML or XML files in their browsers. All modern operating systems contain support for Greek.

Is it true that Nanos-generated text files fulfil all criteria for use in digital archives, digital national libraries or other digital collections? What about the fonts?

Yes. Nanos outputs text in the UTF-8 text format, in compliance with ISO 10646. Optionally, you can also output text in UTF-16, another ISO-defined text format. Both formats are suitable for digital archives, digital national libraries, universities and research institutes as well as all other institutions aiming at long-term data sustainability.

Why do some Greek Unicode fonts display some Greek characters as rectangles?

This happens when a Unicode font does not contain all the Greek characters. For example, the Unicode font Arial Unicode MS does not contain the Ancient Greek lower-case digamma, which is Unicode character no. 03DD in the Greek character range. (Strangely enough, it does actually contain the upper-case digamma...). If you do a mouse click on the lower-case digamma in Nanos, and if you are using Arial Unicode MS as the inputting font in Nanos, you will be confronted with a rectangle character telling you that Arial Unicode MS font does not have that character. But the digamma character itself is there in the text, even though you are only seeing the rectangle. Just switch over to a more complete Greek Unicode font, and you will see the lower-case digamma in the text right where you entered it. For example, all the fonts included with Nanos contain a lower-case digamma. To switch to one of them, choose the menu options Display - Font..., then select Aisa Unicode, Code2000 or Proson.

Unfortunately, not all Greek Unicode fonts contain all characters. Even otherwise excellent fonts sometimes have conspicuous holes. The Nanos Virtual Keyboard (the soft keyboard on the screen) gives comprehensive access to all the Greek characters you are likely to ever need, including many character variations (for example, various forms of beta, theta, kappa, pi, rho, sigma, capital upsilon, phi, etc.) and specialized characters such as, for instance, upper- and lowercase digamma. But few Unicode fonts contain all of these characters. Some professional fonts deliberately include particular character variations in preference over others, which are deliberately omitted. In such cases, when you try to produce such a character in Nanos, you will see a rectangle appear on the screen instead, and consequently the character will not print. There are basically three ways out of this situation:
(1) Use another font that does contain the character or character variation that you need.
(2) Select another character variation from the Nanos Virtual Keyboard.
(3) If you are able to modify fonts (you need specialized software and considerable experience with font production for that), update the font in question to include the character or character variation that you need.

You may also wish to contact the font makers to see if they are willing to update their font, though this is of course likely to be a lengthy process. Actually, due to its extreme comprehensiveness, the Nanos Virtual Keyboard is a good tool for testing Greek Unicode fonts for comprehensiveness and design quality. Just switch on your font Greek font in Nanos, then click on each Greek character on the Nanos Virtual Keyboard on the screen (a single mouse click will do). If you hit on a rectangle, your font has a hole on the character position you entered. You can look up the Unicode character position by clicking on the Nanos Virtual Keyboard, placing the mouse cursor over the key in question, and waiting for a short time. A context-specific little window will pop up and tell you which Unicode character the key in question corresponds to.

I am a font designer. Can I sell Nanos with my Greek fonts?

We are always happy to form innovative marketing partnerships. Please contact us so that we can discuss things further.

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