Traditional Chinese

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Free Chinese Font

Arphic PL Font (文鼎PL字型)

In 1999, a Taiwan font company, Arphic technology, donated four TrueType fonts to the Open Source community under the Arphic public license. These four fonts consist of two Sung type face (宋體) and two Kai type face (楷體) each for Traditional (正體) and Simplified (簡體) Chinese.

Filename Font Family Font Family # of glyphs

bkai00mp.ttf AR PL KaitiM Big5 文鼎PL中楷 Big5 (14148)

bsmi00lp.ttf AR PL Mingti2L Big5 文鼎PL細上海宋 Big5 (14148)

gkai00mp.ttf AR PL KaitiM GB 文鼎PL簡中楷 GB2312 (7764)

gbsn00lp.ttf AR PL SungtiL GB 文鼎PL簡報宋 GB2312 (7764)


Firefly Sung (螢火飛字型)

Later as anti-alias widely used, people start getting trouble reading small sized characters due to the complicated strokes of Chinese. An easy solution would be using a bitmap embedded font. But the available Chinese bitmap fonts are of only 16x16 and 24x24 pixels. In 2004, a Taiwanese OSS writer, Firefly, completed a new set of 12~16 bitmap font based on the above four Arphic fonts. He merged Traditional and Simplified Chinese glyphs and embedded the manually optimized bitmap fonts into a single TTF, which is known as fireflysung.ttf, which consists of 16976 glyphs. fireflysun


Firefly bitmap fonts (best for low-resolution display) covers Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese and Japanese in the latest version.

This tremendous hard work has also merged into several free font projects in Chinese Linux community, ex. CJKUnifont and Wen-Quan-Yi font.

Firefly keeps updating this work and in 2007 he released a significant new version which consists of both mono spaced and proportional width styles. About 1222 new glyphs are added and 7332 new bitmap updated. This new version now covers Big5(正體中文)、GB2312(簡體中文)、JISX0208(日文) encodings and re-named as OpenDesktop Font.

  • 文鼎PL新宋/新宋 Mono (AR PL New Sung Protional/Mono)
  • 文鼎PL新中楷 (AR PL New Kai)



A German, Arne Götje, who lives in Taiwan works on a project to provide CJK unicode fonts. His work is also based on the Arphic fonts:

  • 文鼎PL上海宋Uni (AR PL ShanHeiSun Uni)
  • 文鼎PL中楷Uni (AR PL ZenKai Uni)

In spite of the original Arphic font glyphs, he further add the Chinese dialect phonetic symbols. As later the firefly sung released, he merged the embedded bitmap fonts into CJKUnifonts. In 2005, the work of Hong Kong freefonts project (by OAKA group) is also included.

Arne is currently working on a new font project that using a component based font database to create a set of font that matches each CJK regional variants. This font will covers the whole Unicode glyphs which is about 70K.

Wen-Quan-Yi Bitmap Font (文泉驿字型)

This is a new wiki based font developing initiated by FangQ (房骞骞). Based on the work of Firefly bitmap font, this work extends the coverage of 11x11, 12x12, 14x14, 15x16 pixel sized bitmapt fonts to include the Unicode CJK 20,902 unified characters and ext. A region. Also, 10x10, 13x13 and 16x16 sized fonts are currently under heavy developing.

A new TrueType font, called WQY Zhen-Hei (文泉驿正黑体), is under development with the same approach. Now this font has already more than 36K glyphs. Since this is a cooperated work, glyphs style and marginals need to be further fine tuned and unified. The everyday nightly build can be d/l from here:


See also Fonts.

Input Methods

Several hundred input methods for Chinese have been developed. The scim (Smart Common Input Method) platform provides the following Input Method Editors for Traditional Chinese.

  • Wu
  • Array30
  • CNS11643
  • Cangjie
  • Cangjie 3
  • Cangjie 5
  • Canton HK
  • Cantonese Pinyin
  • Dayi3
  • EasyBig
  • Jyutping
  • Quick
  • Simplex
  • Stroke 5
  • ZhuYin
  • ZhuYin Big

Among the most popular for Traditional Chinese are Cangjie and Zhuyin-Hanzi conversion.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
手 田 水 口 廿 卜 山 戈 人 心 
 日 尸 木 火 土 竹 十 大 中 片
  重 難 金 女 月 弓 一 ,  . /

Cangjie is shape-based. It uses twenty-four familiar characters, each of which stands for a set of related shapes. All but a few Chinese characters can be readily broken up into pieces within that relatively small set of shapes. From that sequence of shapes, no more than five will be selected, by regular rules, to form the code for typing the character. For example, the character 明 is broken into 日 and 月. For the few characters that are too complex for this process, there is a system of three-element abbreviations, each including the character 難 (difficult). There are numerous books in Chinese on Cangjie, but little information in English.

ㄅ ㄉ ˇ ˋ ㄓ ˊ ˙ ㄚ ㄞ ㄢ ㄦ =
 ㄆ ㄊ ㄍ ㄐ ㄔ ㄗ ㄧ ㄛ ㄟ ㄣ [
  ㄇ ㄋ ㄎ ㄑ ㄕ ㄘ ㄨ ㄜ ㄠ ㄤ ;
   ㄈ ㄌ ㄏ ㄒ ㄖ ㄙ ㄩ ㄝ ㄡ ㄥ

Zhuyin, also called Bopomofo from its first four letters, is a Chinese alphabet made of greatly simplified character forms. It is used in elementary school textbooks in Chinese-speaking countries, in dictionaries, and in IMEs for Traditional Chinese. The corresponding phonetic input method for Simplified Chinese uses Pinyin Romanization.

Input Method Editor engines for Traditional Chinese Linux all support Cangjie, Pinyin, and Zhuyin. Engines for Simplified Chinese all support Pinyin and Wubi, a different shape-based IME. Chinese IME software for Linux includes IIIMF, scim, xcin, chinput, and methods built into the Yudit and emacs editors.

See also Input methods

See also