Chinese fonts - which one(s) should I use?

LisaO's picture

Could someone help me out with the following fonts?

    Adobe 明體 Std [Ming]
    細明體 [Ming Condensed?]
    新細明體 [New Ming Condensed?]

    Adobe 仿宋 Std R [Fangsong]
    黑体 [Boldface]
    Adobe 黑体 Std R
    Adobe 楷体 Std R [Script]
    宋体 [Arial]
    Adobe 宋体 Std L
    宋体-PUA
    新宋体

Just a brief description/confirmation of the what kind it is (i.e., bold, condensed) or any helpful corollaries between these and other fonts I might recognize (i.e. this is the TNR equivalent), and any helpful usage info/tips.

So far, what (I think) I've figured out is in brackets, plus I'm guessing R=Regular and L=Light. Just for reference I've attached text samples with each text.

[Background] I'm designing an ad for a free Chinese magazine here in LA called "World Weekly" for my company. The problem is, I can't read Chinese at all, although I can figure out some things through my knowledge of Japanese. Probably, no one (that pays me) will care if I use the right fonts. But I've seen shoddy cross-cultural marketing, and one of the things that blares "WE DON'T SPEAK YOUR LANGUAGE" is the odd choice/misuse of fonts. So, I would like to avoid that, and any help would be appreciated! Unfortunately, I don't have the scads of time to do the research - just hopefully get some quick advice or any resources that might help. Thanks!

LisaO's picture

Also... I'm using Illustrator and it doesn't seem to understand that I want to use Chinese fonts, not Japanese ones. Even though I select the text and change it, it won't remain whichever Chinese font I've selected - it either switches back to Kozuka Gothic (a Japanese font) or is blank (in which case I go into the text, and it's usually Kozuka Gothic).

Which is problematic, not the least of the problems being the X'ed rectangles that appear (the placeholder boxes when there is no matching character in the set).

David W. Goodrich's picture

In Chinese type, 細 means "Light", not condensed.

While many Japanese kanji are in fact Chinese characters (漢字), quite a few are simplified forms unique to Japanese. Select one of these and AI's glyph palette can give you the "alternate" Chinese form -- click the little black triangle in the lower right corner. Once you've re-encoded the character in the Chinese form, a Chinese font should work. This feature is a good reason for using Adobe's Opentype fonts.

But beginning in the late 1950s the People's Republic provided simplified versions of traditional characters, only some of which look like the Japanese simplifications. Some can be found in Adobe Ming, but for simplified characters you're better off with Adobe Song. Some audiences care a great deal about traditional Chinese vs. simplified.

Ming/Song styles are generally a safe bet. Fangsong 仿宋 (less common for Japanese) and Kai 楷 are more calligraphic; "gothic" 黑體 styles are also useful. Which you choose is, well, a matter of style.

Good luck,
David

lunde's picture

In my opinion, the most important decision that faces you is whether you need a Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese font. This has nothing to do with the number of glyphs in the font, but rather is a region-specific shape issue. For a large number of characters, the same glyphs can be used, but for a significant number of characters, distinct glyphs are necessary. Some of these differences are reflected as separate Unicode code poins, but some have been unified, meaning the same Unicode code point can accommodate both forms, but most fonts include only one of them. (A so-called Pan-Chinese font would include glyphs suitable for both Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese, and the only such fonts of which I am aware are two weights of STHeiti on Mac OS X 10.6 that are implemented as TTCs.)

Anyway, if you let us know the target audience, which would indicate whether Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese would be appropriate, I can make some suggestions.

Dr. Ken Lunde
Senior Computer Scientist, CJKV Type Development
Adobe Systems Incorporated
lunde@adobe.com

LisaO's picture

Ken, David, thanks for your advice. I ended up using Adobe 宋体 Std L for body, and Adobe 黑体 Std R for headlines. I was told to use the Taiwanese Chinese language setting, and there was an editor that checked the final outcome of the text - so it seems that everything went well. (At least, I haven't heard any complaints).

In Chinese type, 細 means “Light”, not condensed.
That makes sense! I was confused, since it didn't seem condensed at all.

lunde's picture

AdobeSongStd-Light (Adobe 宋体 Std L) and AdobeHeitiStd-Regular (Adobe 黑体 Std R) are Simplified Chinese fonts that are intended to be used for China, not Taiwan. While a significant number of glyphs are entirely appropriate for use in Taiwan, some are different, and sometimes in subtle ways. A not-so-subtle example is the ideograph 骨 and any ideograph that uses this as a component. Try rendering it using different Chinese fonts, Simplified and Traditional, and you'll see mirroring of the top portion.

What I am trying to say is that you need to be prepared for some complaints, and chances are they will be about this very issue.

In terms of using those fonts for body text and headlines, they are otherwise good choices, ignoring the Simplified versus Traditional issue.

Dr. Ken Lunde
Senior Computer Scientist, CJKV Type Development
Adobe Systems Incorporated
lunde@adobe.com

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