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Google teams with Monotype to kill computer “tofu”

Google keeps changing the world as, in its own way, has Monotype over the years.

Details are emerging of a joint initiative between the two – the Google Noto Project – aimed at developing “a typeface family that encompasses all languages with a harmonious look and feel, while digitally preserving rarely used languages, to help enable global communications across borders, languages, cultures and time periods.” Google Noto now covers more than 800 languages and 100 writing scripts, which includes letters in multiple serif and sans serif styles across up to eight weights, as well as numbers, emoji, symbols and musical notations.

The name Noto came about because that Google’s stated goal is to see “no more tofu,” with tofu referring to the blank boxes that appear when a computer or website isn’t able to display text. These boxes appear because the font that supports that text is not available to the computer.


Google director of internationalization Bob Jung says: “Creating Google Noto was a really big project and we needed a reliable partner that could match Google’s scale to complete it. We looked for a partner that had the ability to create really well-engineered fonts, and Monotype has a long history in that, and was able to offer the diversity and breadth of experience we needed, especially in building fonts for other languages.”

Monotype CEO Scott Landers says: “We are passionately dedicated to type and helping to advance the use and adoption of type across many cultures, languages and geographies. We are thrilled to have played such an important role in what has become one of the most significant type projects of all time.”

New scripts are added to the Unicode Standard, a character coding system that defines the characters and languages that can be displayed and used within a computer system. Google Noto is open source under OFL (Open Font License), meaning that designers and developers around the world can contribute to the design of the scripts. The font is also free to use.

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