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NRSI: Computers & Writing Systems


You are here: Type Design > Resources > Font Downloads
Short URL: http://scripts.sil.org/CharisSIL

Charis SIL

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NRSI staff, 2014-10-28


The Charis SIL fonts have been moved to a new web site. Please  click here for the new site.


The content below is old. Please  click here for latest fonts and FAQs on the new site.

‘You’ve got some nice font features in there: specifically the literacy variants, and toggle between tone numbers and graphs.’

‘Thank you, SIL Folks, for creating this font and making it available!’

Table of Contents for this web page:

Introduction to the Charis SIL Font Package

Welcome to the Charis SIL font package. Charis is similar to Bitstream Charter, one of the first fonts designed specifically for laser printers. It is highly readable and holds up well in less-than-ideal reproduction environments. It also has a full set of styles - regular, italic, bold, bold italic - and so is more useful in general publishing than Doulos SIL. Charis is a serif, proportionally-spaced font optimized for readability in long printed documents.

The goal for this product was to provide a single Unicode-based font family that would contain a comprehensive inventory of glyphs needed for almost any Roman- or Cyrillic-based writing system, whether used for phonetic or orthographic needs. In addition, there is provision for other characters and symbols useful to linguists. This font makes use of state-of-the-art font technologies to support complex typographic issues, such as the need to position arbitrary combinations of base glyphs and diacritics optimally.

Four fonts from this typeface family are included in this release:

  • Charis SIL Regular
  • Charis SIL Bold
  • Charis SIL Italic
  • Charis SIL Bold Italic

New!!!! (28 October 2014)

New official release available. This is a major update.

Overview of the Charis SIL Font

This Charis SIL font is essentially the same design as the SIL Charis font first released by SIL in 1997. It has almost the same glyph repertoire as the Doulos SIL font (with the exception of some additions for the italic faces).


We reserve the right to alter metrics in future releases. Future versions of the font may result in different lines, line spacing, or paragraph lengths. Do not expect that a document laid out in one version will always have the same page breaks, etc., in future fonts.

Differences from legacy fonts

The Charis SIL font differs significantly from SIL Charis in the following ways:

  • SIL Charis, as other fonts included in the SIL Encore Fonts package, was provided not as a working font but as a “library” font from which working fonts could be made using the TypeCaster program. In contrast, Charis SIL is a working font to be used as is, not as a basis for derivative fonts.
  • Charis SIL is a Unicode-encoded font. The encoding is entirely different from the old font, or most working fonts produced from it. Data created for use with the old font (or its derivatives) will most likely have to be re-typed or converted before it will display with the Charis SIL font.
  • Charis SIL is a TrueType font with “smart font” capabilities added using the Graphite, OpenType®, and AAT font technologies. This means that complex typographic issues such as the placement of diacritics or the formation of ligatures are handled by the font, provided you are running an application that provides an adequate level of support for one of these smart font technologies. With the old font (and its derivatives), diacritic placement was handled using non-standard character encodings that incorporated multiple versions of a diacritic as distinctly-encoded characters.


The design of the basic character set of Charis SIL is similar (but not identical) to Bitstream Charter, designed by Matthew Carter. The following notice accompanied the Charter fonts:

(c) Copyright 1989-1992, Bitstream Inc., Cambridge, MA.

You are hereby granted permission under all Bitstream propriety rights to use, copy, modify, sublicense, sell, and redistribute the 4 Bitstream Charter (r) Type 1 outline fonts and the 4 Courier Type 1 outline fonts for any purpose and without restriction; provided, that this notice is left intact on all copies of such fonts and that Bitstream's trademark is acknowledged as shown below on all unmodified copies of the 4 Charter Type 1 fonts.

BITSTREAM CHARTER is a registered trademark of Bitstream Inc.

SIL International is the creator of the Charis SIL fonts, and is the owner of all proprietary rights therein.

Type Samples

For a complete list of characters included in Charis SIL, see Supported character ranges.

Type samples showing some of the unusual inventory of glyphs and features can be downloaded here. A sample from one page is shown below.

Charis SIL Type Sample
Lorna A. Priest, 2006-01-31
Download "CharisSILTypeSample.pdf", Acrobat PDF document, 374KB [37105 downloads]

Charis SIL Sample - Precomposed Latin Diacritics

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