Monotype bitmapped fonts are designed for devices such as set-top-box, mobile phone, PDA to display characters with limited resolution and processing resource. They are also ideal to be embedded into a font for displaying characters in small sizes on a workstation.

Bitmapped Characters

Bitmapped characters usually represent the character shape by bits of 1s and 0s. A 1 represents a black pixel while a 0 represents a white pixel. In the case of grayscale bitmapped character, each pixel is described by, for example, an eight bit value which represents the "darkness" of a pixel. Bitmapped characters can be generated from outline font on the fly with a rasteriser. However, even with hinting, such rasterised bitmapped character cannot compare to a hand-tuned bitmapped in legibility. This is especially obvious when the characters are small or resolution is low.

Comparing with outline characters, bitmapped characters can be displayed easily - no complex algorithm or calculation is required. However, there are some drawbacks on bitmapped fonts: bitmapped fonts cannot be scaled easily. In addition, the storage size of bitmapped fonts increases with size and they can grow much bigger than outline fonts. All bitmapped fonts provided by Monotype are carefully hand-tuned for good legibility. See the samples here.

Monotype Design Criteria

Legibility vs Correctness

Fonts are used to convey messages and ideas. Therefore it is important to produce bitmapped fonts that write correctly. However, as pixel size decreases, it is increasingly difficult to maintain character writing. Monotype bitmapped fonts provide a good balance between legibility and correctness. At large sizes, writing correctness takes precedence. While at small size, we apply techniques such as stroke drop-out, feature simplifications, hence making it more legible and distinguishable.

Writings and Locales

When the Unicode Consortium merged character sets from different locale, they faced a daunting task of unifying Han ideographs. Since Han ideographs (also known as Kanji, Hanja) are adopted by Japan and Korea as part of their language hundreds of years ago, they have been going through evolutions of their own. Characters are created, writings are modified. Perhaps the most recent one is the creation of a simplified Chinese character set in the 1960s.

Due to heritage and other reasons, every country/location can only accept character writings of what they are accustomed to. Some countries go further as to require character writing certified. Figure 1 illustrates differences (sometimes subtle) in writings of different locales:

Despite the hard work of the Unicode committee, a single Unicode character cannot satisfy all locales.

Figure 1: Comparison of writings of different locale

PRC Approval

The government of the People's Republic of China stipulates that all information technology products sold in the country require certifications to comply with varies national standards (Guo Biao). Products using bitmapped and outline fonts are also subject to this criteria.

Monotype bitmapped and outline fonts have received approvals and recommendations from the State Language Committee (SLC) and Committee of Information Technology Standardisation (CITS) indicating compliance and quality.

SLC is a committee under the Ministry of Education and CITS is a committee under Chinese Electronic Standardisation Institute.

A PDF version of this document can be downloaded from here.

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    Owners of Monotype Unicode Chinese OpenType Collections 2012 (PRC and HK), please follow the following links for a list of latest releases since 2012…

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