[Scribus] Gentium font

John Jordan johnxj
Fri Jan 27 03:10:57 CET 2006

On 26 Jan 2006, at 20:16, Gregory Pittman wrote:

> It's a very attractive roman-type font.

Yes it is. I am a graduate student in linguistics and I have some 
more information to share.

Gentium was originally created by an individual whose name I do 
not recall at the moment. He created only a Roman and Italic 
version, no bold, bold-italic or other weights. It is fully Unicode 
compliant and, for quite a long time, it was the only Unicode 
compliant font containing the majority of the International Phonetic 
Alphabet (IPA) characters needed in linguistics work.

A couple years ago he transferred the copyright to the Summer 
Institute of Linguistics (SIL). SIL already had three fonts that they 
made available for free under the same terms that you mentioned. 
The most popular of these was Doulos. However, Doulos and the 
other SIL fonts were not Unicode compliant fonts. They were 
designed to be used with a keyboard template and to accompany 
another "normal" font. Doulos looks a lot like Times, so the plan 
was that users would use Times, and then switch to Doulos when 
they needed the IPA characters. The IPA characters were mapped 
to keys on a standard keyboard. For example, if you wanted an 
esh you typed a capital S. Of course, that meant that Doulos didn't 
have a capital S. You typed normal text in Times and entered the 
IPA characters by switching to Doulos and then using the 
keyboard template.

Gentium is completely Unicode compliant, so the correct character 
is in each of the slots. If you type a capital S you get a capital S. If 
you want one of the IPA characters you figure out which Unicode 
character it is and enter it according to whatever your software 
uses for entering characters by Unicode number. This is far 
superior to the keyboard template workaround used in fonts like 

Recently SIL made available Charis, under the same terms as their 
other fonts. Charis is like Gentium, that is, it is fully Unicode 
compliant. However, it has a bold and a bold-italic version as well. 
On the downside, it is not as attractive (in my opinion) as Gentium. 
Moreover, for some reason that I have not yet figured out, the 
character space is very tall, even though the actual characters are 
normal height. As a result you can't use tight leading, or the upper 
space of the characters on the line underneath will block the 
bottoms of the characters on the line above. I found that it works 
fine, however, as long as I specify a fixed leading rather than 
"single space," etc.

One additional note. The Summer Institute of Linguistics is a Texas-
based fundamentalist Christian organization which engages in 
linguistics activity to further their goal of translating the bible into as 
many languages as possible. Many people have issues with that. I 
state that just as a full disclosure matter, even though SIL keeps 
quiet on their website about it. How you deal with that is your 

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