Version 1.1 (5 May 2004)


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Unicode fonts

There is a growing number of Unicode fonts available, many of which contain a large selection of the whole Unicode Standard. This standard includes the majority of Latin characters and diacritics used by medieval scholars, e.g. þ (thorn), ð (eth), "o ogonek", "ø with accent, "æ with accent" etc. Unicode fonts are supported by most modern operating systems, such as Linux/Unix, Mac OS 10 and Windows. This means that most characters in many transcriptions of medieval Nordic sources are included in available fonts, and that these transcriptions can be displayed in print and on the web with comparatively few problems. For further information on Unicode and Unicode fonts, please refer to Allan Wood's Unicode Resources. This site is constantly updated and highly recommended.


Private Use Area

In diplomatic trancriptions of medieval Nordic sources, especially Old Norse ones, a considerable number of characters are still missing in the Unicode standard. Until Unicode decides to include these characters in one of its offical ranges, medievalists must resort to the Private Use Area. This is an area which will not be used for any official characters by Unicode and which is open to scholarly and other types of communities. Characters in this area can be included in fonts for several computer platforms (Linux/Unix, Mac OS 10, Windows) and they can be designed by several font editors (e.g. FontLab).

It should be stressed that the Private Use Area is an interim solution and that the long-term solution is to work with Unicode for the inclusion of as many characters as possible in one of the offical ranges. This is the aim of the Medieval Unicode Font Initiative, which presently is working on a formal proposal to Unicode.


Specialised fonts for medieval Nordic sources

In addition to the growing number of standard Unicode fonts, there is a handful of specialised fonts for medieval usage. These fonts are conformant with the Unicode Standard, but in their present versions (early 2004) they differ in the allocation of characters in the Private Use Area.


Coordination by the Medieval Unicode Font Initiative

The Medieval Unicode Font Initiative (MUFI) has been set up to coordinate fonts designed for medieval usage. A recommendation for character encoding was published on the MUFi site 8 December 2003, MUFI character recommendation v. 1.0. This recommendation lists a total of 828 characters, of which approximately half are located in the Private Use Area.


MUFI font page

MUFI maintains a font page with news on Unicode and MUFI conformant fonts. As of January 2004, one font, Alphabetum, is already fully comptabile with the Unicode Standard v. 4.0 and the MUFI recommendation v. 1.0. It is expected that the new versions of Cardo, Junicode, LeedsUni, Notator and Titus Cyberbit will follow soon.

MUFI font page (news and downloads)


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Version 1.0 published 20 May 2003. Version 1.1 published 5 May 2004.