I would call the Google Noto Chinese fonts "modern" chinese. Then I would call something like this (that font doesn't load/work for me when I download it) a more ancient style calligraphy font. And something more traditional might be a basic serif font, though that one is a bit modern looking.

I don't need perfect fonts, but I would like to find two fonts, a more handwritten free style, which could have been like a style used in ancient texts, and a more standard "traditional" style that could have been used for hundreds of years since the printing press type thing.

The main thing is these fonts should be free for commercial use, and support as many glyphs as possible, ideally both traditional and simplified glyphs.

I am currently trying to render the Tao Te Ching from WikiSource, which seems to use a combination of simplified and traditional glyphs, and I am having a hard time finding fonts where all the glyphs are covered, outside of the Google Noto fonts. Any ideas where I can find 2 of these other style fonts which cover most/all glyphs and is free? Or if finding both styles is not possible, then just one style?

Even popular fonts like this one are missing many glyphs in the Tao Te Ching text.

I would like to avoid this situation, where it turns out just one glyph is missing from the font.

enter image description here

1 Answer 1


Okay, some experience here.

The 'more standard' font you are looking for is surely I.Ming (https://github.com/ichitenfont/I.Ming). It was specifically designed to fulfill the peculiarities of traditional Ming/Song typography to detail. It is even occasionally providing better forms than the Kangxi Dictionary. The coverage of characters in Version 8.00 is as follows:

enter image description here

It specifically covers almost all Kangxi Dictionary and generally characters from Classical Chinese texts. The text you wish to typeset looks like that:

enter image description here

(Also, pay attention to BabelStone Han https://babelstone.co.uk/Fonts/Han.html . It does not conform to the traditional typesetting norms and instead provides the characters as they are supposed to look today in PRC - but by sheer coverage is one of the best.)

It is much harder to find a calligraphic font with wide coverage. Would a regular script font suffice? Because, in this case, there are the CNS fonts (https://www.moedict.tw/fonts/truetype/cns11643/), TW-Kai, TW-Kai-ExtB, and TW-Plus. They cover only up to Extension D included (though almost exhaustively), but also provide (in Plus) a staggering 22000+ characters not encoded in Unicode in the shared regular style. To check that, I typeset an excerpt of the 字彙補 character list, with really marginal characters:

enter image description here

  • Excellent! These should do I think! How do TW-Kai, TW-Kai-ExtB, and TW-Plus relate, do I need all of them or just one?
    – Lance
    Apr 18, 2023 at 22:19
  • 1
    They supplement each other. Kai covers up to Extension A, ExtB covers Extensions B, C, D, Plus covers characters not in Unicode. Apr 19, 2023 at 7:40
  • Edited as I noticed that I.Ming is now in Version 8.00, which added many character and improved much more. The chart fixed accordingly. Apr 20, 2023 at 16:37

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