Digital Typeface Design and Font Development for Twenty-First Century Bangla Language Processing

Digital Typeface Design and Font Development for Twenty-First Century Bangla Language Processing

Fiona G. E. Ross (University of Reading, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3970-6.ch001
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Abstract

Typeface and font design are fundamental to textual communication, and therefore, such communication, whether for use in print or on screen, is greatly enhanced and facilitated by the development and application of high-quality designs. The chapter discusses the key issues that underpin best practice in Bengali digital type design—from a design’s conception to its implementation, that is, the design concept and brief, the character set, the design dimensions, character fitting, and also the considerations for harmonious multi-script setting. The design methodology described is founded on research-based practice in non-Latin type design and font development. It considers how past practices in type-making and typesetting affected current Bengali typeforms and how an evaluation of these practices, in conjunction with the use of the existing and emerging font technologies, can inform the practitioner in the design of high-quality cross-platform OpenType Bengali fonts.
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Background

This chapter is written from a type designer’s and font developer’s point of view based on the premise that typeface and font design are fundamental to visual communication. The focus here is primarily on designing text typefaces since these are the workhorses of textual communication by means of pre-fabricated letterforms, and are the most challenging to execute. The current repertoire of Bengali typeface designs is noticeably limited4, and fonts often exist in incompatible formats. Furthermore, the quality in terms of readability and appropriateness of the design for its purpose is poor in comparison to Latin typefaces and in comparison to the early Bengali foundry types.

The urgency of addressing this subject for the Bengali language is underlined by the continued apparent ubiquitous use of the Linotype Bengali digital typeface5 in the majority of publications in the Bengali script although fonts of this typeface have not been available for purchase by legitimate means for over two decades. Furthermore, the typeface was originally designed for setting newspaper text on newsprint, yet it is nowadays used to answer a multiplicity of functions, however inappropriate its design, including for display purposes on billboard posters, and for text passages on Web pages6, albeit in a cloned form (see Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Overview of four Bengali newspapers published in Kolkata, 14 April 2010. All four use the Linotype Bengali digital typeface design.

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