Monotype bitmapped fonts are
designed for devices such as set-top-box, mobile phone, PDA to display
characters with limited resolution and processing resource. They are also ideal to
be embedded into a font for displaying characters in small sizes on a
Bitmapped characters usually represent the character shape by bits of 1s and 0s. A 1
represents a black pixel while a 0 represents a white pixel. In the case of
grayscale bitmapped character, each pixel is described by, for example, an eight
bit value which represents the "darkness" of a pixel. Bitmapped characters can be
generated from outline font on the fly with a rasteriser. However, even with
hinting, such rasterised bitmapped character cannot compare to a hand-tuned
bitmapped in legibility. This is especially obvious when the characters are small
or resolution is low.
Comparing with outline characters, bitmapped characters can be displayed easily
- no complex algorithm or calculation is required. However, there are some
drawbacks on bitmapped fonts: bitmapped fonts cannot be scaled easily. In
addition, the storage size of bitmapped fonts increases with size and they can grow
much bigger than outline fonts. All bitmapped fonts provided by Monotype are
carefully hand-tuned for good legibility. See the samples
Monotype Design Criteria
Legibility vs Correctness
Fonts are used to convey messages and ideas. Therefore it is important to
produce bitmapped fonts that write correctly. However, as pixel size decreases,
it is increasingly difficult to maintain character writing. Monotype
bitmapped fonts provide a good balance between legibility and correctness. At
large sizes, writing correctness takes precedence. While at small size, we apply
techniques such as stroke drop-out, feature simplifications, hence making it more
legible and distinguishable.
Writings and Locales
When the Unicode Consortium merged character sets from different locale, they
faced a daunting task of unifying Han ideographs. Since Han ideographs (also
known as Kanji, Hanja) are adopted by Japan and Korea as part of their language
hundreds of years ago, they have been going through evolutions of their own.
Characters are created, writings are modified. Perhaps the most recent one is
the creation of a simplified Chinese character set in the 1960s.
Due to heritage and other reasons, every country/location can only accept
character writings of what they are accustomed to. Some countries go further as
to require character writing certified. Figure 1 illustrates differences
(sometimes subtle) in writings of different locales:
Despite the hard work of the Unicode committee, a single Unicode character
cannot satisfy all locales.
Figure 1: Comparison of writings of different locale
The government of the People's Republic of China stipulates that all information
technology products sold in the country require certifications to comply with
varies national standards (Guo Biao). Products using bitmapped and
outline fonts are also subject to this criteria.
Monotype bitmapped and outline fonts have received approvals and
recommendations from the State Language Committee (SLC) and Committee of
Information Technology Standardisation (CITS) indicating compliance and quality.
SLC is a committee under the Ministry of Education and CITS is a committee under
Chinese Electronic Standardisation Institute.
A PDF version of this document can be downloaded