Posted in Typeface, Visual Language
Noto typeface family helps enable global communications across devices, borders, cultures, languages and periods of time.
The term “Noto” conveys the idea that Google’s 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, causing confusion and a breakdown in communication.
Monotype has played two significant roles in the Noto project to date: researching and digitally designing the characters, writing systems and alphabets, and applying the rules and traditions for those individual languages to the fonts and managing the project, including organizing outside designers and linguists around the world who specialize in specific scripts. Google defined the requirements and scope of the project, shared significant input into design direction for major languages, contributed design review and technical testing resources and expertise for a broad range of languages, and provided the funding that made this project possible.
“Monotype is one of the leading type companies in the world and was a great match for all our requirements. We like the passion for type and the technology that they bring to this project,” said Bob Jung, director of internationalization at Google. “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.”
Both Google and Monotype share the goal of advancing type for wider adoption and usage, no matter the language. The hope is that this project will make typeface families accessible to cultures around the world who have never been able to use them in the past. For this to be effective, the Noto family must be both legible and culturally acceptable.
For instance, Monotype designed the script for the Tibetan language following deep research into a vast library of writings and source material, and then enlisted the help of a Buddhist monastery to critique the font and make adjustments. The monks’ constant study of Tibetan manuscripts made them the ideal experts to evaluate Noto Tibetan, and were instrumental in the final design of the font.
Monotype has been involved with Google Noto since 2011 when Unicode 6.0 was released. The Unicode Consortium announced version 9.0 of its standard in June 2016, and Monotype continues to work with Google to develop the various new scripts and additional weights for many of the worldwide languages included with each new standard.
Scott Landers, president and CEO of Monotype, said “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. The combination of Monotype’s type expertise and Google’s innovation has proven to be a productive relationship and we look forward to continued collaboration that helps advance the use of type to new places.”
Hundreds of researchers, designers, linguists, cultural experts and project managers around the world have been involved with Google Noto. Work on the font is ongoing as 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 are encouraged to contribute to the design of the scripts. The font is also free to use, reinforcing Google’s goal of helping enable communications across borders and cultures.
What Google and Monotype are saying about the Noto project
“Google Noto is a daunting project in size and scope, and I’m proud of how we’ve worked hard over the past five years to develop a really good product that solves a problem no one else has taken on before. Our goal for Noto has been to create fonts for our devices, but we’re also very interested in keeping information alive. When it comes to some of these lesser used languages, or even the purely academic or dead languages, we think it’s really important to preserve them. Without the digital capability of Noto, it’s much more difficult to preserve that cultural resource.” – Bob Jung, director of internationalization, Google.
“Even though we prioritize widely used languages, we still want to support other languages, even if there are no people still speaking them. There are some characters you can only see on stones. If you don’t move them to the web, over time those stones will become sand and we’ll never be able to recover those drawings or that writing.” – Xiangye Xiao, product manager, Google
“I feel that looking into the future of digital communications, Google Noto is going to be the go-to design for people to be using to communicate across multiple cultures and societies.” – Steve Matteson, creative type director, Monotype
“The aim of the Noto project is to provide digital representation to all the scripts in the Unicode Standard. That in particular is something that many different language communities could not afford to do on their own. Google has been the benefactor in funding this work, and in many cases, we’ve produced the first font ever to serve a particular language community. So to me, the aim is to serve that human community that would otherwise be deprived of the ability to have a digital heritage.” – Kamal Mansour, linguistic typographer, Monotype
The Google Noto font is available for free download now from: https://www.google.com/get/noto/.
Monotype is a leader in empowering expression and engagement through a combination of type, technology and expertise. Headquartered in Woburn, Mass., Monotype provides customers worldwide with typeface solutions for a broad range of creative applications and consumer devices. The company’s libraries and e-commerce sites are home to many of the most widely used typefaces – including the Helvetica®, Frutiger® and Univers® families – as well as the next generation of type designs. Further information is available at www.monotype.com.