ATypI 2012 Hong Kong: Day 4 Morning Sessions

These are live blog notes from the 2012 ATypI in Hong Kong, 13 October 2012.

Usual disclaimer for live blogging: These are informal notes taken by Dave Crossland at the event, and may or may not be similar to what was said by the people who spoke on these topics. Probably if something here is incorrect it is because Dave mistyped it or misunderstood, and if anyone wants corrections, they should email him immediately ( – or post a comment.

11:25 Typography between Chinese complex characters and Latin letters – Mariko Takagi

I wondered what I can do to help bridge the 2 cultures of east and west. My EN <> CN type primer, has 6 princpiles of chinese chars and some key ideas.

To talk about typography, we must have the same vocabulary. I saw a slide in yesterday’s Thai talk, talking about ‘looped terminals’ and I’d been to a train station show in the slides and said, “I’ve been to the looped terminal” 🙂

I am a native German reader, so I had to learn the English typo terms. How can they be translated to CN? In many books there are the ‘8 principles of yong’ which are often shown with made up characters, that show different strokes but aren’t real words. The have quite a square form.

WE started collecting and comparing sources from CN, JP, Taiwan, and other places like Germany. Last year Susanna Licko (?) wrote a book about CJK typography.

CN chars can have a single stroke, but the most complicated has 64 strokes. You can see the 2 CN and EN texts, there is a row of headings, DOT DOT DOT, and the CN headings are visibly different terms for various dots. In EN we dont have discrete terms.

Horizontal bar, vertical stroke, these are easy to identify. downstrokes can vary a lot in angle, but all are downstrokes to the left; downstrokes to the right also vary in angle. Upstrokes left and right. Angles or corners, ‘returning stroke’ or folds,

11:50 Hanzi of the West, letters of the East – Christoph Stahl

‘Translation Server Error’ as headline on a billboard 🙂

The CN text input will add a space after a comma, so in EN you see a comma place ,after the space, and a space added after an apostrophe.

Some peopel can see ‘made in china’ from lousy latin fonts. Slowly CN foundries learn they should have better quality latin.

Now lets see how europeans use hanzi. Frederic William of Brandenberg had 2nd biggest CN library after French king. You can see a book made totally second hand, looks nothing like the real chars.

Here is a 1641 book, ‘relations of china’ and it uses the christian crossl + symbol, lol

1688, ‘new relations of china’

1655 ‘history of china pt 1’ – there is this idea that they are pictographic, so a euro man saw fishes in the ‘river’ char when there is no such thing.

Here’s a typeface with a thick border around each hanzi glyph.

Soon the euro founders invented split sorts, which allowed euro typographers to make up bizarre combinations of radicals.

1815 first bilingual EN-CN dictionary by Robert Morrison. He had one size of a wooden hanzi font. his workers desrted, all kinds of drama, but the book came out. Like roman said, euros got tired of this, they saw too much effort for too little effort. So sinology books have CN terms with romanisation, but there are many different romanisation systems. This means the same person may appear as 2 differnet names.

proportionality and monospace is tricky. latin text in chinese body means the latin text offsets the grid. so you align the hanzi on the grid and place latin words in the gap?

You can also use half wide and full wide latin spacing. not great.

Hanzi usually today uses justified setting, which means the same latin word has very different tracking even in the same sentence.

You can put latin in CN with a baseline alignment, but that means a step down for each latin word; so i think its better to have a middle alignment. even capitals and lowercase cna have a differnt baseline which looks odd to euro eyes but makes smoother reading for CN native readers.

A high x height helps fill the tall space of CN.

Line spacing can be baseline aligned with 3 lines of latin next to 2 lines of CN.

You must have a feeling for a language, you can’t just go ahead and apply the conventions of your writing system’s typography to another one, as they did in the past. This awareness should be done in all typography education arund the world.

100 years ago euro typographers gave up on hanzi and now with digital type we have the change to try again, if we work together, we can make it work, and the effort to bring out cultures together can never outweigh the benefit.

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