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denmarks
post May 7 2008, 07:29 PM
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This is probably the wrong place for this question but I have to start somewhere.

There are thousands of characters defined in Unicode. I can pick any font and still display some of the unusual characters. I can't believe that every font has all the thousands of characters. So my question is is there a separation of characters? Are some included in a font and the rest in some type of shared file? If not how does it work?
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Brian Chandler
post May 7 2008, 10:52 PM
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It's entirely up to the font designer. There are fonts (or projects at least) designed to cover the whole of unicode, but there will obviously never be a decent typeface that does, because of the conflicting artistic requirements of different character sets, and anyway there is almost certainly not a human alive who could look at a combination of French, Arabic, Hindi, Thai, Japanese, Korean, and Georgian and even say if it looked like writing. Here's a page I wrote about the mangling of the Latin alphabet in Japanese typography, and that's only trying to combine two (2) systems:

http://imaginatorium.org/words/descend.htm

So the answer is that browsers, for example, must substitute one font for another if a required character is not present. I haven't investigated properly, but I think that browsers sometimes select different fonts on the basis of the "language" coding of a document, so that sometimes one has to look at an ugly Roman font when viewing a Japanese page, for example.

Otherwise, it's just a mess. CSS is based solely on Latin typography, and lots of the stuff ("italic", "sans-serif", etc) simply doesn't apply to other scripts.

HTH
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denmarks
post May 8 2008, 09:43 AM
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If I understand you correctly there is no central default library. If I choose to display dingbat character 2744 and I am using Arial and it does not contain it, the system will just look in another font for it. If not located in any installed font it will just appear as blank or garbage.

This post has been edited by denmarks: May 8 2008, 09:44 AM
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Brian Chandler
post May 8 2008, 10:03 AM
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QUOTE(denmarks @ May 8 2008, 11:43 PM) *

If I understand you correctly there is no central default library. If I choose to display dingbat character 2744 and I am using Arial and it does not contain it, the system will just look in another font for it. If not located in any installed font it will just appear as blank or garbage.


I don't know what you mean by "library" - library of what?

If 2744 is the Unicode value (in some representation - decimal?) for a "dingbat" (i.e. bullet-like character), and that character is not in the Arial font, then *in general* a browser will find a different font containing it, if available.

The bottom line is that on th Web you really can't assume _anything_, and it's probably a bad idea to go using some very obscure symbol, unless it really belongs in what you are doing.

Otherwise, your question is overly general - what "the system" does just depends on what system it is.
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