Glyphs and language support: Can Times New Roman be challenged?

kmmai's picture

I am setting the text for an anthology on Pre-existence. The text has quotes in Greek, Hebrew, transcribed Hebrew and old German (the later uses a double hyphen with a slight upward curve [⸗]). As an alternative to Times New Roman, I am using Adobe Garamond Pro in InDesign. I soon found out that I had to upgrade to Garamond Premium Pro in order to get support for Greek. For Hebrew, I am using Adobe Hebrew. I am surprised by facing problems I've never had using Times New Roman: some glyphs are missing in Garamond, for instance two transcribed Hebrew Letters (Ḥ and ṣ) and the double hyphen used in old German (⸗). I am considering replacing single letters set in Garamond to Times New Roman just to make the text readable, but I am generally surprised by the fact that it is so troublesome to find a worthy replacement of Times New Roman. Does anyone have any suggestions to typefaces that can match Times New Roman in its a broad support of languages and glyphs?

charles ellertson's picture

Again, I refuse to participate as half-truths are used to solicit work for pay. Books have been set in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew since the 16th century. How did they ever manage?

Note: my guess is this remark will now be characterized as a "personal attack."

kmmai's picture

Charles Ellertson.
Thank you very much for for your professional advice. They are a great help to me, and I look forward to try them out.
Best wishes,

dberlow's picture

This might also interest you depending on your licensing requirements.

Joshua Langman's picture

Also, what do you mean by "upgrading" to "Garamond Premium Pro"? If you're talking about Garamond Premier Pro, that is an entirely different font from Adobe Garamond, though they were both designed by Robert Slimbach and released by Adobe.

hrant's picture

Since I don't use fonts much there could very well be a perfect free solution (such as Brill - although, as David hints it actually has some usage restrictions you need to mind) that I'm not aware of, so please take this with a grain of salt: one solution is to pay somebody to make any and all modifications you need; you're actually lucky that Adobe allows this sort of thing (while most font houses these days don't). On the other hand it might be possible to patch base letters and stand-alone accents into a working system, but you might actually end up paying more for that to be set up for you, since it's not as practical as something that works out of the box. BTW, I know I'll sound like a broken record, but: I was actually once commissioned to add 20 dotted letters to Garamond Premier Pro (for transcribing Sanskrit) so please feel free to ask for a quote*. That said, there are many people reading this who could also do this sort of work for you, quite possibly better and/or cheaper.

* hpapazian at gmail dot com

Concerning your issues with non-Latin text: you might get away with using different fonts, but there's a good reason some type designers make matching Latin/Greek/etc. fonts... A nice level of harmony isn't so easy to achieve (especially when it comes to matching color - AKA weight), and you might spend a lot of time tweaking disparate fonts into a working whole. When one writing system looks "more important" on a page, somebody will accuse you of cultural favoritism! :-/

BTW, AFAIK the "wide-coverage" version of Gentium doesn't have a Bold, in case that matters.

Whatever you do, try to avoid mixing fonts inline (I mean in a single writing system) since that's very unlikely to result in something to be proud of...


kmmai's picture

@ bbg: Thanks for the advice. Brill certainly has a wide coverage. It has Greek and all the glyphs I was looking for. When I compared it to Garamond Premium Pro, however, I still preferring the latter. Comparing it to Times New Roman, without necessarily wanting to defend this particular font family, TNR still covers Hebrew. But again, Brill could still work and then perhaps with Adobe Hebrew.

@ Joshua Langman: I referred to Garamond Premium as an upgraded version of Adobe Garamond Pro because I find they look alike, but only Premium font covers Greek - actually, I thought all "pro" versions would cover Greek.

@ hrant: I'll send you an email.

Again thanks for all your advice.

Karl Stange's picture

actually, I thought all "pro" versions would cover Greek.

Useful but Linotype specific and by no means definitive...

hrant's picture

Well Charles, this time there's no direct personal attack, but you are accusing me of lying in order to get business. I'm not like that. We are simply disagreeing on certain things, and I believe that what I do can be valuable to some people sometimes. I make/modify fonts not because I can't make money any other way (in fact I do) and I have to trick people to pay me, but because I enjoy providing that service that some people sometimes need. I don't know when a particular person needs it, so when it seems to make sense I offer it and see if it clicks. If it does, both parties benefit. If not, oh well.

But I actually don't think you care about how I make money or not; I think the real reason you're upset is that I expose your shallow understanding on some topics. I guess it's not enough that I agree with you sometimes, I must not disagree with you ever on anything.

Start your own blog. This is a forum.


People got around before the invention of the wheel too. Unlike you I have made multi-script systems, and people have paid good money for them (and paid me to consult on refining such systems). I don't make them as a snake-oil ruse or because I'm bored - I make them because I think they're needed. And I'm not the only one by any means. Claiming that formal harmonization of scripts (as opposed to hoping for some dumb luck with whatever fonts are on hand) is not a design parameter is nothing short of deluded.

Furthermore, I actually have no fonts that meet Christian's multi-script criteria, and I couldn't promptly make any. So how could I sell him anything? I was simply giving free advice there. The only service I can/did offer related to adding missing characters to Adobe Garamond Premier. And how could that be a deception? Do you really think cobbling things together is a better solution? Well, I guess you could... But I simply don't agree with that (even though I did mention that approach).


BTW, I have again saved Charles's formerly helpful post. I don't feel totally OK reposting it, but since I consider a post to Typophile as being partly "owned" by Typophile, if anybody needs a copy please let me know.


Igor Freiberger's picture


Andron Mega has the best coverage regarding Latin, Greek and Cyrillic scripts, including phonetic alphabets and medievalist support. It is a high quality font, with consistent design through all scripts, and goes far beyond Times.

Second to Andron, you can find the SIL fonts –Gentium, Doulos, Charis, Tinos, and Junicode– and Brill, already suggested. Someday, my own project will be on this list too.

Times New Roman offers a large language support, but it has several glyphs poorly designed. Phonetic glyphs and barred letters, for example, does not match the quality of the original set.

To edit a font is also a good possibility. You will be in good hands if you get hrant's help on this.

dberlow's picture

"Start your own blog. This is a forum."

kmmai's picture

Igor Freiberger,
Thanks for the tip. Andron Mega is really impressing. Thanks for the tip.
Send a link, when your project gets on the list.

charles ellertson's picture

Not to say it isn't worth it, but if you get interested, bring your checkbook

For a publisher/society anticipating many publications, it could be a good deal. For individual scholars, the open source offerings are likely more realistic.

quadibloc's picture

@charles ellertson:
Books have been set in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew since the 16th century. How did they ever manage?

Excuse me. The fact that the original post did not explicitly mention that the poster was trying to typeset his book using OpenType or TrueType fonts on a computer, instead of with hot metal does not mean the original poster was being mendacious.

Your other complaint, that he was seeking advice of a nature that amounted to asking people to do work for him for free, may or may not have been valid, but the claim about using half-truths is simply absurd if that is intended as its basis, as it appears to be.

Most of the free fonts I know of with lots of support for foreign languages are versions of Times Roman, and I don't know of a Garamond with such coverage. There's a font with a lot of characters called Caslon, but it's actually in the style of the ugly Roman lettering used with some old Chinese fonts. If one is using Windows, it now comes with Sylfaen, which has wide language support without being Times Roman.

For Greek, specifically, the Greek Font Society has numerous free Greek fonts with a matching Latin part. There are free Hebrew fonts with a Helvetica-like Roman, and no doubt others as well. But if you insist on setting your Roman, Hebrew, and Greek in a single font, I'd suspect that Times Roman, Arial and Sylfaen are almost your only free choices. Oops; Sylfaen doesn't have Hebrew.

Ah; there is another choice. TexGyre Pagella has both Greek and Hebrew. It looks like Palatino by Hermann Zapf.

Of course, you probably don't need to choose a free alternative, as you're using Adobe InDesign, not Scribus.

As for old German, you perhaps should look at Dieter Steffmann's selection of Fraktur fonts, although I don't know if they have the hyphen you want.

Oh, wait: there's EB Garamond from Google Fonts.

Igor Freiberger's picture

I'd suspect that Times Roman, Arial and Sylfaen are almost your only free choices.

You are right. Even SIL International does not offers a font including Latin, Greek and Hebrew scripts.

In Mac OS X, Arial, Courier New, Lucida, Tahoma and Times NR supports these three scripts.

I plan to add Hebrew in a future version of my font project, but this would come just in late 2015.

quadibloc's picture

I've just verified that the specific missing glyphs cited seem to be present in EB Garamond - and TexGyre Pagella. However, I'm wondering if some kind of font aliasing may be going on when I look at the character map - a number of fonts even have CJK characters that I would not have expected to do so. Maybe the open-source fonts are just copying each other or using a big full-Unicode font as a starting point.

Té Rowan's picture

Any of ya remember the font that was to knock Times (New) Roman for six? Linux Libertine? As far as I know, it's a Latin/Greek/Cyrillic/Hebrew font.

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