Typeface for combination with Japanese characters

cschroeppel's picture

I'm looking for a good typeface for a thesis that contains Japanese (Mincho) characters. I have experimented with some fonts, including Aldine, Baskerville, Galliard, and Palatino.

Which one do you think looks best with the Japanese characters?

Would you suggest any other font?

I believe that a somewhat more oldstyle version of Galliard, i.e. less difference in linewith and maybe some diagonal stress - as in Aldine and Palatino -, would work quite well. I don't know how to systematically look for these smaller differences in font characteristics on the web, however, maybe there is some website that offeres a more refined classification scheme.

(The Japanese font is the IPA Mincho Proportional, which looks a lot better than Japanese - or "I'm not sure whether you want a Chinese or Japanese glyph, but this is what I have" - fonts that come with some operating systems. The macrons above the o's are taken from Palatino, as they are not available for every font. So they don't fit perfectly and would need some further work - which I have postponed until I know which font I will use.)

Miss Tiffany's picture

Garamond Premier Pro pairs very well with Kozuku Mincho Pro-VI R (KozMinProVI-Regular.OTF) which is an Adobe font.

Jongseong's picture

I had not heard about any of the IPA (Information-Technology Promotion Agency, not the International Phonetic Alphabet) fonts before I read this. It looks like IPA, the Japanese government agency, freely released a suite of fonts including the Mincho Proportional.

I think an important consideration is to match the overall colour. I find that Latins need to be somewhat light and airy with less stroke contrast and abundant x-height to match CJK typefaces well. Compare the Latins that come with the Japanese typeface, which are Century derivatives, with the original Century to see what I mean.

On the other hand, if the Japanese-character content of your thesis is small, it may make more sense to choose a darker-than-average Japanese typeface to better match the Latin, although IPA Mincho Proportional seems to come in a single weight.

I've used Palatino in the past for texts containing Korean. It's probably the best option out of widely available system fonts, but it still is too dark and the stroke contrast too high to work seamlessly with most CJK designs. Out of the above, I would judge that Aldine works best, having the least stroke contrast, but the hairlines are still way too thin.

Perhaps you can try a light weight of Adobe Warnock. You would have to adjust the point size to make it work with IPA Mincho Proportional, but it just might work.

cschroeppel's picture

Miss Tiffany, Jongseong, thank you very much for your feedback! It's probably not that easy to decide, and the choice depends probably a lot on the nature and the particular purpose of the text. Kozuko Mincho is quite similar to IPA Mincho. There are some things that I like better in the Kozuko font, some in the IPA font. Strangely, it seems to me as if there are some stylistic inconsistencies in both fonts, so that one part of character in the Kozuko would fit better in the IPA and vice versa. Garamond Premier Pro is definitely a good pair for both fonts, it just is a bit too elegant for a thesis (It's about finance and economics, not culture). Classical Garamond is a more "standard" font that also fits well, in my view. (There are quite a lot of Garamonds around, and the first Garamond I saw did not fit well, so I initially thought Garamond would not be a possible choice.)

As for the Adobe Warnock, it's not "standard" enough for a thesis, and it seems to be at least as "bold" as Galliard. It's a good choice for medium-sized texts that are more geared towards leisure activities and not work- or science-related. Palatino is widely used, and it's a good choice because it has a large set of glyphs. However, the serifs do not go so well with the "serifs" in the Japanese Mincho, in my opinion.

The latin characters in the IPA Mincho are very useful for the occasional western word or number in a Japanese text. (In fact, almost all western fonts look quite ugly when you have just a few western characeters in a Japanese text. Having a few Japanese characters in a Western text is not so much of a problem.)

Overall colour (or grayness) is maybe a difficult issue. Japanese characters are quite different in grayness, depending mainly on the number of strokes in a character (compare "Nihon" and "Shinjuku" in the picture). So my question would rather be: if the whole text was not printed, but written by hand, would it be possible to draw both the Western and the Japanese with the same device? Apart from the boldness, Galliard seems to fit best according to this criteria. It's maybe because it does not have unneccessary round details, see the "J" for example. Garamond's thinner parts correspond well with the Japanese Mincho, but has more of the "round details". Aldine is somewhere in between. Think I have to see what works best with the math fonts, tables, display size elements, acronyms etc. before I'll make a choice. -- cs

lunde's picture

I used Minion Pro as the text font for "CJKV Information Processing" Second Edition, and for the Japanese portions I used Kozuka Mincho Pr6N R. That combination worked very well.

Dr. Ken Lunde
Senior Computer Scientist, CJKV Type Development
Adobe Systems Incorporated

henrypijames's picture

Wouldn't Minion fit even better with Kai-style typefaces than Song-style ones? (Although the kanas in Kozuka Mincho are actually Kai-style, I suspect if his thesis only contain occasional Japanese phrases, most of the characters would be kanjis.)

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