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Writing systems
-   Western alphabets
-   Non-Western alphabets
-   Phonetic and offbeat
-   Varying glyphs
-   CJK
-   Miscellaneous

-   -
Types of fonts
-   Inserting single characters
-   Inserting diacritics:
á, à, â, ä, ...
-   Keyboard layouts
-   Input methods
-   Multilingual browsing
      Certain East Asian scripts, e.g. the Chinese Hanzi, the Japanese Kanji and the Korean Hanja contain too many characters to fit in a one-byte font. For this reason, DBCS (Double-Byte Character Sets) and even MBCS (Multi-Byte Character Sets) have been developed, although you can also use certain Unicode fonts for this purpose.

If you want to type text in such languages in VTrain or other programs, you have to install a script-specific IME (Input Method Editor) that supports CJK Text. For this purpose, you can choose between the IMEs shipped with Windows and the utilities developed by third parties.

For languages not listed below, please visit the miscellaneous font downloads page.

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The Chinese script
The Japanese script
The Korean script


CJK fonts
One-byte fonts
Multi-byte fonts
Pinyin fonts


CJK tuning
How to view
How to input
Tuning software 

More CJK resources

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The Chinese script

      Chinese is written in a set of characters ("hànzì"), which is not, as some people believe, completely ideographic, since characters often contain both semantic and phonetic elements. The total amount of Hànzì symbols totalling several thousands, only about 2,000 characters are actually of common use.

There are two standards for printed Chinese, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese, the latter being sponsored by the government of the P. R. of China (Continental China) since the 1950s and adopted also by Singapore. In fact, Chinese persons of all countries use simplifications in handwriting, and many characters of Simplified Chinese had already been in use before.

There are various transliteration systems for Chinese. The most popular one today is
pinyin, although zhuyin (an alphabet based on Chinese characters) is still used for instruction in Taiwan. Plans to make pinyin supersede conventional Chinese characters were eventually given up because of the large amount of homophones present in the language.

The Japanese script

      The Japanese use a writing system consisting of two syllabaries representing the same set of 46 syllables (hiragana, used primarily as suffixes and particles, and katakana, used for foreign words, advertising lines etc.) and a collection of 1945 characters of Chinese origin (Kanji).

Because of the large amount homophones present in the language, written Japanese is difficult to read unambiguously.

The Korean script

      The Koreans use the Hangul (or Han'gûl) alphabet (called Chosôn muntcha in North Korea), which was devised in the 15th c.

In addition, in North Korea they also use Hanja characters, which are of Chinese origin. Scholars have preferred Hanja until the end of World War II. Now these characters play the role of bold face characters. In North Korea they are not in use any more.

In practice, the Korean spellling system is complex, since predictable elements that are used in speech are dropped in written language, and because of the existence of liaison and similar phenomena.

Unlike in Japanese and Chinese, in Korean you put spaces between words.

CJK fonts


We will use the abbreviation CJK (Chinese / Japanese / Korean) in this section.

Types of CJK fonts

Ideographic writing systems like the
Chinese, the Japanese, and the Korean Hanja contain by far too many characters to fit into a conventional one-byte font of 256 characters. For this reason, several solutions were made available:

  1.   To use a combination of several one-byte fonts.
  2.1   To use native CJK fonts (two-byte or multi-byte).
  2.2   To use fonts in the international Unicode standard (two-byte).
  3.   Write (continental) Chinese in Roman transliteration (Pinyin).

Some notes on
native CJK fonts:

The most popular solution in the East Asia are
two-byte fonts (DBCS, Double Byte Character Sets) or even multiple byte fonts (MBCS), Unicode being more of a "westernizing" standard. Recently, the Government of the Popular Republic of China set the four-byte GB18030 standard. New software must support this character set to be sold in the PRC.

Today, the native East Asian DBCSs are the following:

GB (GuoBiao, simplified Chinese, mainland China / People's Republic of China),
Big5 (traditional Chinese, used in Isle of Taiwan / Republic of China).
Other encodings: China: GBX, HZ, HZX, CNS. Japan:
EUC, JIS, SJIS (Shift-JIS). Korea: KSC, EUC-KR.

How do I input CJK characters?

Of course, East Asian keyboards do not have thousands of keys. A 102-keys keyboard will suffice. But you will need a language-specific display & input add-on for your Windows system.

While Unicode fonts are supported by the Chinese IME supplied with new versions of Windows, if you want to use native CJK fonts, you will have to install a third-party IME. (For the Pinyin, it is enough to install a specific keyboard layout and a font, of course.) Please read the
Tuning section below.


One-byte fonts

      Some input utilities combine a large number of one-byte fonts to cover the full range of characters of the CJK writing systems, instead of a two-byte font.

To use such a utility, the target editor has to have rich text capabilities, since different fonts are used in the same document.
The advantage of this method is that you do not need to have any Chinese (etc.) Windows extension on to display the characters -- the drawback is that the encoding used for these multiple fonts is not compatible with standard fonts (GB, BIG5, Unicode, etc.).

DynaLab - provide free one-byte fonts for Chinese versions of Windows.
CJKWare - sell one-byte fonts for Chinese along with their products (for Western Windows).
Multi-byte fonts
- CJK fonts
- Unicode fonts
      To write and read Chinese with native CJK two-byte or multi-byte fonts, you will need to modify your Windows system. (See the section devoted to Chinese Tuning below).

Microsoft Chinese Language Support -contains two Unicode fonts (simplified / traditional).
CJK Environments
(see CJK Tuning below) come with two-byte fonts in various formats.
Chinese Gateway - sell native Chinese two-byte fonts.
DynaLab - provide free CJK Unicode fonts.

Pinyin fonts

      Pinyin is the official transliteration of Mandarin into the Roman alphabet, in use primarily in the P.R.China.

You can write pinyin by way of
diacritical marks in Unicode fonts such as Lucida Sans Unicode, which ships with Windows XP.

One-byte pinyin fonts:

Times Pinyin font available from
Jörg Sziegat's page -
Prof. C.C. Cheng's Pinyin Font - Get a layout map from here -. You can access most characters with single keystrokes, so it requires some memorization on your part.
Wiedenhof's Pinyin Okay - font with accent keys
EasyTone - for accent keys for Pinyin and Yale romanization
Chinese Pinyin Fonts -. Times Roman TrueType fonts with tone diacritics for Mandarin Chinese, designed by Chin-chuan Cheng for the CORA Project -. See also Chinese Pinyin Font Layout -.
Rich's PinYin Fonts for Mac OS and Windows -. Fonts developed by Rich D. Accents can be placed over any letter (vowel or consonant).

Other popular Pinyin fonts are PinTone, TimesPinyin, New Pinyin, Chinese Pinyin, AddTones.

See also Mike Colley's font collection -

CJK tuning

      To write and read CJK (Chinese / Japanese / Korean) languages with two-byte or multi-byte fonts, there are two kinds of resident programs you can make use of. (We will not discuss utilities combining several one-byte fonts here.) They are the following:

- Using native CJK fonts in a CJK environment.
- Using Unicode fonts & Windows Chinese etc. Language Support (Windows NT4/2000/XP only).

How to view

      How do they display CJK characters?

  CJK Environments   Unicode fonts & Chin.Language Support
  A CJK environment overrides the internal Windows code:
It intercepts
pairs of ANSI characters (from a text file, etc.) before they are displayed, and forces Windows to display each pair as a single two-byte character in the CJK script.
  Pros: This will work on absolutely all text editors and viewers, and on the interface (e.g. captions on menu bars).   Pros: CJK characters can be displayed along with the characters of any other language. The interface is not affected.
  Contras: They have an ugly side-effect. All special characters (accented letters, etc.) will be replaced with CJK characters. Although this no drawback for English-speaking users (they use no diacritics), other European users will see their ä, ñ, ö replaced with odd characters.
Anyway, some CJK environments provide a
workaround, being able to except the fonts of your choice from the overriding.
  Contras: Unicode fonts do not work with all programs in use today. See Using different alphabets: Unicode for details.
Annoying bugs of the Language Support: characters are sometimes rotated by 90°, etc.

How to input

      How do you input CJK characters with a 102-key keyboard?

Of course, you use a transliteration or a similar scheme. For Chinese for instance, there are various input methods: PinYin, Zhuyin Fuhao, four-corner, Wubi, CangJie, QuWei, Cantonese, BoPoMoFo,

What happens in the background?

If you use Unicode with Microsoft's Chinese (etc.) IME (input method editor), it will work as fine as if you typed in any other script.

On the other hand, a CJK environment works as follows: when you input a two-byte character, the environment sends a
pair of ANSI characters to the target editor, although they will still be displayed on the screen as a single ideogram (as explained at "How to view" above).

This is also the way East Asian webpages are encoded. If you use a CJK environment to input non-Unicode fonts and shut down the CJK environment, you will see only odd characters in the file. You need to have the CJK environment running to see them in Chinese etc.

Tuning software

      Examples of CJK environments (some include editors and codepage converters):

www.opencjk.org - Focuses on Chinese/Japanese/Korean related Open Source Software. Status
MViewPro 5.0
- ($5) by Albert Chong. Viewing only, no strong input support. Works even on regular ANSI-applications.
Can use Microsoft's Unicode CJK fonts, but supports other encodings. Automatic encoding recognition. Unique feature: you can restrict the font overriding to the fonts that are actually Chinese (etc.), thus allowing real multilingual document display.

Suntendy Chinese Star -($343) with Princeton's loading instructions -.
A new program by the maker of the TwinBridge Chinese Partner. More stable than TB.

NJStar Communicator - ($99) With Princeton's loading instructions.
Twinbridge Chinese Partner -($249) Unstable (system crashes often). Check Princeton's loading instructions.
CJKWare's Sunrise2001 -($495-595)
RichWin - displays beautful CJK fonts in Western text
Union Way's Asian Suite - with Princeton's loading instructions -. Its input mode uses Unicode fonts (or ugly bitmap fonts in regular ANSI applications) only (?).
Erik Peterson's Word97 Chinese Input - Free macro for MS Word97. Allows pinyin input of Chinese; Unicode only :-(.

More CJK resources

      Language-specific editors (standalone editors):

Pinyin Editor - (Freeware)
Also included in the Free Chinese Dictionary available from the same authors.
Write and print Chinese texts in the official transliteration of the P.R. of China.

DingDang Write - (Shareware, $20-40)
Rich text editor for Chinese.
Bitmap fonts. Font editor. OLE and Clipboard support. Various input methods, tables are customizable. Big5 <-> GB conversion.
Read the info from
Gyula Szigri -, who further states that to display Chinese in DingDang Write you may also need Rich Edit 3.0 (Riched30.exe), downloadable from SmartFTP -.
J-Text by NeocorTech (mirrored at SimTel -) (Freeware, 2.7 MB, 1998)
Japanese text editor for learners, with
kana tables for quick lookup.
Japanese Word Processor - (Freeware) by Stephen Chung, for Windows 3.1 and higher.
JWPce - (Freeware) by Glenn Rosenthal

Two-byte editors
(standalone editors):
EditPad Lite 4.2.0 -, a fine replacement of Windows Notepad with many other features. Supports Unicode.
UniEdit - Multilingual (including CJK and IPA) text editor from Duke U.'s Humanities Computing Facilities. Win 3.1 or higher. Supports Unicode.
EmEditor 1.27 - (Freeware, 3.0 is shareware) is a notepad replacement that supports Unicode characters. (English and German versions, plus Chinese plugin.)

Codepage converters:

Convert Big 5 to GIF -
Convert Big 5 (HTML) to GIF - [enter URL; converts entire webpage]
Convert Big 5 / GB text -   Java, Chinese viewer necessary
Convert Big 5 / GB / HZ / UTF-8 files -
Convert UTF to GB -
Guess Encoding of Big 5 / GB / HZ / UTF-8 / ASCII files or webpages -
Romanization Converter -Converts among BoPoMoFo, Wade-Giles, Pinyin, French System

More info:
Indpt. Fed. of Chinese Students and Scholars in the US -
Prof. Marjorie Chan's homepage - is the ultimate address for Chinese and Japanese.
Carlos McEvilly's Chin. Lang.-Related Info. Page -
Cyberway-to-China -
Chinese University of Hong Kong : HanziX -, a unified platform for Chinese computing
Taiwan University : reading BIG5 characters -
Using Japanese with a PC -. Reference to commercial products, freeware, shareware, demo versions.
To Users of Japanese Browsers -. From the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, St. Cloud State University. Issues on the use of Kanji codes on the Web and lots of links.
Read Chinese in Net Applications -, (University of Regina, Saskatchewan).
Lienhe Zaobao - provides online help for all platforms.
See Windows
installation instructions - for compressed files.
    Updated: 2017 January 1
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