NRSI: Computers & Writing Systems
Gentium — FAQ
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‘I will be using this font regularly and will be recommending it strongly to others. This is a very beautiful typeface. What you have done is a most generous gift to the world.’
‘Pleased to find a font where the IPA and extended Latin does not look like a train wreck.’
How do you pronounce Gentium?
The preferred pronunciation is with a soft G as in ‘general’, not a hard one as in ‘gold’: JEN-tee-oom.
What is GentiumAlt? (only in the original Gentium package)
It is a version of the font with redesigned diacritics (flatter ones) to make it more suitable for use with stacking diacritics, and for languages such as Vietnamese. The Greek glyphs also use the Porsonic (single-curve) design for the circumflex. Since the original Gentium fonts do not include any ‘smart’ rendering routines, there is no easy way to access these alternate diacritic shapes from within the original Gentium font. The encoding of the fonts are the same, so the same text can be viewed with either one. There is also no problem with having both font families installed at the same time.
I want to use Gentium in my publication - can I?
Gentium and Gentium Plus are released under the SIL Open Font License, which permits use for any publication, whether electronic or printed. For more answers to use questions see the OFL-FAQ. The license, alongside information specific to Gentium, is in the release package.
I would like to bundle Gentium with my application - can I?
Can I use the font on my web site?
You can certainly create web pages that request that Gentium Plus be used to display them (both if that font is already available on the user's system or if it is delivered via @font-face). According to the license, you are also allowed to place the font on your site for people to download it. We would strongly recommend, however, that you direct users to our site to download the font. This ensures that they are always using the most recent version with bug fixes, etc. To make this easier, there is a simple URL for Gentium: http://scripts.sil.org/Gentium There is further important discussion of webfont issues in the OFL-FAQ.
Is Gentium Plus going to stay unrestricted and available at no cost?
There is no intention to ever charge users for using Gentium and its variants. The current version is licensed under a free/open license and future versions will be similarly unencumbered.
I would like to modify Gentium to add a couple of characters I need. Can I?
Yes - that is allowed as long as you abide by the conditions of the SIL Open Font License.
So will you add glyphs upon request?
If you have a special symbol that you need (say, for a particular transcription system), the best means of doing so will be to ensure that the symbol makes it into the Unicode Standard. It is impossible for us to add every glyph that every person desires, but we do place a high priority on adding pretty much anything that falls in certain Unicode ranges (extended Latin, Greek, Cyrillic). You can send us your requests, but please understand that we are unlikely to add symbols where the user base is very small, unless they have been accepted into Unicode.
Can I send you work I've done to be incorporated into Gentium?
Yes. See the FONTLOG for information on becoming a contributor.
Can you help me get Gentium Plus working on my system?
We cannot afford to offer individual technical support. The best resource is this website, where we hope to offer some limited help. However, we do want to hear of any problems you encounter, so that we can add them to the list of bugs to fix in later releases. Our contact address is <gentium AT sil DOT org>. Please understand that we cannot guarantee a personal response.
I can't find all the extended Latin letters in the font. How do I type them?
Gentium Plus is Unicode-encoded, which means that the computer stores a special, unique code for each letter in your document. Since most keyboards do not have hundreds of keys, special software is needed in order to type the hundreds of special characters supported by the font. See the README.txt file for more information.
I can’t find the ‘o with right hook’ in the font. Where is it?
Combinations of base letters with diacritics are often called composite, or pre-composed glyphs. Gentium Plus has hundreds of these (the ones that are included in Unicode). There are, however, many common combinations that are not represented by a single composite. It is possible to enter these into a document, but only as individual components. So ‘o with right hook’ would be entered as ‘o’, then ‘right hook’. Although this may not look very good in some cases, we’re not able to anticipate every possible combination. Gentium Plus includes 'smart font' support for both OpenType and Graphite.
Some diacritics are not aligning well with base glyphs, and if I type more than one diacritic, they run into each other. Why is that?
The smart diacritic positioning in Gentium Plus relies on either OpenType or Graphite. The application you are using must support one of these technologies in order to see appropriate diacritic positioning.
Where is the 'fi' ligature?
In Gentium-Regular there is really no need for a ligature, and because of the design of the f and i, a ligature would tend to look out of place. But if you look in Gentium-Italic, you'll see 'fi' and 'ffi' ligatures. They still have a separate dot on the 'i', but are connected.
How do I type the Greek letters?
You need a Unicode-compatible keyboarding system, which is not included in the distribution package. Both Windows and the Mac OS have basic (modern) Greek keyboards built into the OS. Keyman is a great utility for creating complex keyboards for Windows, and a number of Greek keyboards are available for Keyman that support ancient Greek input. The Galatia SIL Greek Unicode Fonts package includes one that can be used with any Unicode polytonic Greek font. More are available from here.
I’m having problems making PDFs — why won’t my document distill?
Gentium Plus is a large font, with lots of glyphs. As a result, some older printers, PDF distillers and readers can balk at PDFs that have the complete font embedded. The easiest way to avoid this is to have the PDF distiller subset the font. This is generally a good idea anyway (with any font) and can reduce the size of your files.
How are the Gentium Plus fonts different from Gentium?
This font is based on the original Gentium design, but with an expanded character and glyph repertoire. It currently comes with regular and italic faces. It comes with near-complete support for Latin, Cyrillic and Greek. It also contains 'smart font' support for OpenType and Graphite technologies. This allows for correct diacritic placement over all base characters, whether they are tall, short, wide, narrow, with or without descenders. It also provides for a large variety of alternates glyphs. These are described on the Gentium website.
Why is the line spacing greater for the Plus fonts?
In some environments, stacked diacritics in Gentium could display as 'chopped-off'. Gentium Plus has slightly wider default line spacing in order to avoid this problem. Most applications do, however, let you set the line spacing explicitly, so you can have the lines spaced precisely as you wish.
Is there an Alt version of the Basic fonts?
No, although you may notice that capitals and some tall lowercase letters do use 'low-profile' versions. Gentium Plus also includes OpenType and Graphite features to turn low-profile diacritics on and off.
How are the Basic fonts (Gentium Basic, Gentium Book Basic) different from Gentium?
These font families are based on the original Gentium design, but with additional weights. Both families come with a complete regular, bold, italic and bold italic set of fonts. The supported character set, however, is much smaller than for the main Gentium fonts. These 'Basic' fonts support only the Basic Latin and Latin-1 Supplement Unicode ranges, plus a selection of the more commonly used extended Latin characters, with miscellaneous diacritical marks, symbols and punctuation. In particular, these fonts do not support full extended Latin IPA, complete support for Central European languages, Greek and Cyrillic.
What is the Book weight?
It is a complete second font family that is slightly heavier overall, and more useful for some purposes. The main Gentium family will eventually have a complete matching Book weight, along with matching italics.
Why is the line spacing greater for the Basic fonts?
In some environments, stacked diacritics in Gentium could display as 'chopped-off'. Gentium Basic has slightly wider default line spacing in order to avoid this problem. Most applications do, however, let you set the line spacing explicitly, so you can have the lines spaced precisely as you wish.
Will you be accepting requests for additions to the Basic character set?
No. We are now focusing our development efforts on the main Gentium fonts, which already provide richer character set support.
Is there an Alt version of the Basic fonts?
No, although you may notice that capitals and some tall lowercase letters do use 'low-profile' versions.
What are your future plans for Gentium Plus?
Our next major effort is completing bold and bold italic weights of Gentium Plus alongside a new Gentium Book Plus family. These new weights are currently available for Gentium Basic/Gentium Book Basic.
Do you plan to include other typographic enhancements (old style figures, etc.)?
Those would be nice, wouldn't they? From a design point of view, it would be great to have these refinements, and we haven't ruled them out. But there are other needs that are much higher priority (such as bold). If you think you could contribute some of your time and effort to these enhancements, see the FONTLOG.txt file for information on becoming a contributor.
There is a definite need for a sans-serif font that shares some of Gentium's strengths — high readability, economy of space, etc. It would also be great if that font also harmonized well with Gentium. We don't currently have any plans for a companion face, although one of our other projects - Andika - may be useful. Andika is a sans-serif font designed specifically for use in literacy programs around the world, and is available from our web site.
Will you be extending Gentium to cover other scripts, and Hebrew in particular?
It is very unlikely that we would do this, as there are so many pressing needs in Latin, Greek and Cyrillic scripts.
Will there be a Type 1 version? What about OpenType?
Gentium Plus includes OpenType and Graphite support. We do not plan to produce Type 1 versions at this time, but please write us if this is important (and tell us why). We already provide the PostScript bézier curves in the 'designsource' files in the developer release.
As our fonts and utilities are distributed at no cost, we are unable to provide a commercial level of personal technical support. We will, however, try to resolve problems that are reported to us.
We do hope that you will report problems so they can be addressed in future releases. Even if you are not having any specific problems, but have an idea on how this system could be improved, we want to hear your ideas and suggestions.
Please note that our software products are intended for use by experienced computer users. Installing and using them is not a trivial matter. The most effective technical support is usually provided by an experienced computer user who can personally sit down with you at your computer to troubleshoot the problem.
General troubleshooting information, including frequently asked questions, can be found in the documentation. Additional information is also available on the FAQ pages. If that fails to answer your question, please feel free to contact us!