Fonts begin where character sets end. The characters defined by the encodings inside your computer are abstract, whereas the glyphs defined by a font are concrete visual forms that can be rendered on screen or paper.

Outline fonts are fonts in which glyphs are described mathematically as "outlines," i.e., a series of line segments, arcs, and curves. They are thus fully scalable: to print or display a character, the outline is scaled to the desired size, then rendered by filling the outline with bits or pixels. The information provided here is limited to what the typical Chinese Mac user might want to know. If you want to learn more about font formats and printing technologies, Ken Lunde's CJKV Information Processing is very thorough on these topics.

Developed by Adobe, PostScript is a "page-description" language for printers. It supports both graphics and text, with built-in support for fonts. The most common PostScript font format is Type 1. Chinese Postscript fonts use the CID format, which uses Type 1 character descriptions tailored especially for East Asian writing systems. CID stands for "Character Identifier," which refers to the numbers that are used to index and access the characters in the font. OS X provides full support for all types of PostScript-based fonts.

In 1991, Microsoft adopted Apple's TrueType font format, but they used a different approach to storing the font data, so files had to be converted between Windows and Macintosh. Regardless, all TrueType fonts contain "cmap" tables that map its glyphs to various encodings. With Mac OS X 10.5 (2007), Apple introduced full support for Windows TrueType font files, but the files must contain Unicode cmap tables. Most Windows 98 and later fonts have them, while most Windows 95 and earlier fonts do not.

OpenType is an open standard developed by Microsoft and Adobe in 1996 to absorb the underlying differences between the TrueType and PostScript formats. OpenType fonts also use cmap tables. There are two kinds of OpenType fonts: those that use PostScript Type 1 names and outlines and carry the .OTF extension, and those that use TrueType names and outlines and carry the .TTF (or .TTC) extension.

TrueType "collections" with the .TTC extension contain multiple fonts, usually different weights of the same font. They can also use the Unicode technology of glyph variants (supported in OS X 10.6 and above) to provide localized glyphs for users in China/Singapore (the "SC" locale), Hong Kong (the "HK" locale), and Taiwan (the "TC" locale).

Note: Formerly part of the TC ("Traditional Chinese") locale, the HK locale became necessary with HKSCS-2016. Previous editions of the HKSCS were compatible with Big Five (= CNS), but the 2016 standard is Unicode-only and diverges by replacing 22 CNS characters with variant forms from Unicode. See HKSCS.


One way for individuals to obtain reliable, high-quality Chinese fonts is in retail bundles from established foundries. There aren't many of these companies. The making of an original Chinese font is a huge undertaking, somewhat less so now with the advent of new approaches and advanced technologies, but producing a finished, unique font is still a monumental task, involving a team of people working for months, if not years.

Many font bundles include installers (and other software) that only work on Windows, and thus they are sold as Windows-only, but you can always manually install the fonts on OS X. The best place to put them is in a folder of their own within your computer's /Library/Fonts/ folder, or your local ~/Library Fonts folder, which is where Font Book puts them if you use it to install them.

The current model for distributing fonts is via annual subscriptions. Adobe led the way with what is now TypeKit, and the rest of the industry has, for the most part, followed their lead. [NEED MORE DETAILS HERE] [DISCUSSION OF WEB FONTS AND CSS3]

Arphic [文鼎]

Taiwan. Known for a set of four fonts released with a broad public license in 1999 and 2000, used widely in open-source software:

  • AR PL Mingti2L Big5 (文鼎 PL 細上海宋), AR PL KaitiM Big5 (文鼎 PL 中楷)
  • AR PL SungtiL GB (文鼎 PL 簡報宋), AR PL KaitiM GB (文鼎 PL 簡中楷)

In 2010, they released a pair of updated fonts with a revised (non-profit) public license:

  • AR PLMingU20 Light (文鼎PL明體U20 L)
  • AR PLBaosong2GBK Light (文鼎PL報宋二GBK)

You might be able to find a copy of one of their retail bundles:

  • Arphic OpenType 221: Arphic's full OpenType set, mostly Traditional-Chinese.
  • Arphic OpenType 43: A selection from the full set.
  • Arphic UniFonts 字博士 2: Arphic's full TrueType set of 255 fonts, mostly Traditional-Chinese.
  • Arphic UniFonts 字達人 2: A selection from the full set.

In 2015, Arphic moved to a subscription model, called "iFontCloud" [文鼎雲字庫]:

DynaComware [華康]

Hong Kong. Formerly DynaLab. Maker of the "DynaFont" [金蝶] line. They are the source of the current Apple fonts LiHei Pro and LiSong Pro in OS X, as well as most of Apple's fonts for Traditional Chinese in the Chinese Language Kit and OS 9. They also make the MingLiU/PMingLiU and DFKai-SB fonts that come with Windows. Most recently, their Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Taiwan divisions worked together with Apple to create PingFang, the new system font introduced in OS X 10.11 El Capitan.

There are Pro and Home (less expensive, for non-commercial use) editions available for DynaFont's 2016 TrueType font bundle: [Pro PDF] [Home PDF] They also sell an OpenType variant of the Pro edition, in which the font names match those of DynaFont's high-resolution CID-keyed fonts used by publishers: [OpenType Pro PDF]

To buy, see: R&B Computer Systems LTD (Hong Kong)

They've also implemented an annual subscription model: "DynaFont Treasure" [華康寶藏] [PDF]

Monotype [蒙納]

Hong Kong. A long time vendor of Chinese OEM fonts, in 2006 Monotype's new owners [Monotype Imaging] also acquired China Type Design [中國字體設計] in Hong Kong. Maker of the "Microsoft ZhengHei" fonts that come with Windows Vista and later. Fonts from both sources are available via LinoType. You can also get a Monotype Library Subscription. Priced for the commercial publishing market.

Hanyi [汉仪]

Beijing Hanyi is a well-known Chinese foundry, with an excellent web site showing a fine selection of original fonts, most available online through LinoType. Priced for the commercial publishing market.

Founder [方正]

Beijing. Founder Group was created at Beijing University in 1986 and incorporated in 1992. Maker of the "Microsoft YaHei" fonts that come with Windows Vista and later, as well as Simsun (Founder Extended).

FounderType [方正字库] is still based at the Chinese Type Design and Research Center [中国文字字体设计与研究中心] at Beijing University.

ZhongYi [中标]

Beijing. ZhongYi is the maker of the standards-compliant SimHei (simhei.ttf), SimSun (simsun.ttf, simsunb.ttf), FangSong (simfang.ttf) and KaiTi (simkai.ttf) OEM fonts that come with Windows.

SinoType [华文]

Another important commercial foundry is SinoType in Changzhou, Jiangsu. They don't sell fonts retail, but their "ST" fonts have been widely distributed on a variety of platforms, including OS X (STHeiti, STKaiti, STSong, and STFangsong) and Microsoft Office. Adobe Heiti Std, Adobe Kaiti Std, Adobe Song Std, and Adobe Fangsong Std are also based on the ST fonts.


Adobe has defined two Chinese "character collections" for its fonts:

Adobe's Creative Cloud installs two Chinese OpenType fonts by default, Adobe Song Std Light and Adobe Ming Std Light. You can use TypeKit to install current versions of the CS 6 fonts listed below, along with Source Han Sans and Source Han Serif.

Adobe's Creative Suite 6 (2012) comes with the following OpenType Chinese fonts:

  • Adobe Song Std (Light) [Adobe-GB1-5]
  • Adobe Heiti Std (Regular) [Adobe-GB1-5]
  • Adobe Kaiti Std (Regular) [Adobe-GB1-5]
  • Adobe Fangsong Std (Regular) [Adobe-GB1-5]
  • Adobe Ming Std (Light) [Adobe-CNS1-6]
  • Adobe Fan Heiti Std (Bold) [Adobe-CNS1-6]

Adobe's "Std" designation means the fonts cover standard Chinese character sets as defined in the Adobe GB1 and CNS1 collections, without defining glyph variants or other "Pro" OpenType features. As of 2017, Adobe does not provide "Pro" Chinese fonts.

Note: Other vendors use the "Pro" designation differently, meaning the font simply has an extended character set, like the LiHei Pro and LiSong Pro fonts (Big-5E and HKSCS-2001) that come with OS X.

Fonts via Apple

Basic Fonts

Apple distributes a basic set of Chinese outline fonts with Mac OS 9 and OS X.

Family File name Charset OS 9 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8 10.10 10.11
PingFang SC
PingFang HK
PingFang TC
PingFang.ttc Unicode+                 x
Heiti SC
Heiti TC
STHeiti Light.ttc
STHeiti Medium.ttc
Unicode+         x x x x x
Kaiti SC
Kaiti TC
楷体.ttc/Kaiti.ttc GB18030             x x x
Songti SC
Songti TC
宋体.ttc/Songti.ttc GB18030             x x x
STXihei 华文细黑.ttf GB18030   x x x x x x x x
STHeiti 华文黑体.ttf GB18030   x x x x x x x x
STKaiti 华文楷体.ttf GB18030   x x x x x x† x† x†
STSong 华文宋体.ttf GB18030   x x x x x x† x† x†
STFangsong 华文仿宋.ttf GB18030   x x x x x x x x
Hei Hei.ttf GB2312 x x x x x x x    
Kai Kai.ttf GB2312 x x x x x x x    
Song Song.ttf GB2312 x x              
Fang Song Fang Song.ttf GB2312 x x              
Beijing   GB2312 x                
LiHei Pro 儷黑 Pro.ttf Big-5E
  x x x x x x x x
LiSong Pro 儷宋 Pro.ttf Big-5E
  x x x x x x x x
BiauKai BiauKai.ttf Big-5 x x x x x x x    
Apple LiGothic Apple LiGothic Medium.ttf Big-5 x x x x x x x    
Apple LiSung Apple LiSung Light.ttf Big-5 x x x x x x x    
Taipei   Big-5 x                
  • Unicode+ = Contains the CJK Unified Ideographs block, Extension A, and a selection of 6,217 characters from Extension B. These fonts support GB 18030, Big-5E, HKSCS, Japanese JIS X 0213, and Vietnamese Hán-Nôm.

† = Beginning with OS X 10.8, STKaiti and STSong are located within the larger Kaiti SC (楷体.ttc) and Songti SC (宋体.ttc) font collections. In OS X 10.9 and above, these file names change to Kaiti.ttc and Songti.ttc and include TC fonts.

Hiragino Sans GB ~ Beginning with OS X 10.6, Apple includes this GB18030 character-set font in two weights [Hiragino Sans GB W3.otf, Hiragino Sans GB W6.otf]. Designed to coordinate with Hiragino Sans, a Japanese font that comes in ten weights.

Arial Unicode MS ~ Beginning with OS X 10.5, Apple includes this basic Monotype Unicode font from Microsoft Office [Arial Unicode.ttf] for the same interoperability reasons it includes other Microsoft Office fonts, like Arial, Courier New, Times New Roman, Tahoma, Verdana, and so on.

Additional Fonts

Beginning with OS X 10.8, Apple includes a variety of additional Chinese fonts with OS X. For the character sets and weights for each, see the Fonts section for your OS: 10.8, 10.10, 10.11.

Family File name Foundry 10.8 10.10 10.11
Yuanti SC Yuanti.ttc SinoType x x x
Xingkai SC Xingkai.ttc SinoType x x x
Baoli SC Baoli.ttc SinoType x x x
Libian SC Libian.ttc SinoType x x x
Lantinghei SC
Lantinghei TC
Lantinghei.ttc Founder x x x
Hannotate SC
Hannotate TC
Hannotate.ttc Dynacomware   x x
HanziPen SC
HanziPen TC
Hanzipen.ttc Dynacomware   x x
Wawati SC
Wawati TC
Dynacomware x x x
Weibei SC
Weibei TC
Arphic x x x
Yuppy SC
Yuppy TC
Monotype x x x

* = In OS X 10.8, the file names for this font are in Chinese: 雅痞-简.otf and 雅痞-繁.otf.

Fonts via Microsoft


Font name Chinese Charset File name Windows 2000 Windows XP Windows 7
Microsoft JhengHei 微軟正黑體 UnicodeA msjh.ttf
Unicode mingliu.ttc v3.00 v3.21 v7.00†‡
  UnicodeB mingliub.ttc     v7.00†
DFKai-SB 標楷體 Unicode kaiu.ttf v3.00 v3.00 v5.00
Microsoft YaHei 微软雅黑体 GB18030 msyh.ttf
SimHei 黑体 GBK simhei.ttf v2.10 v3.02 v5.01‡
SimSun 宋体 GBK simsun.ttc v2.11 v3.03 v5.03‡
SimSun-ExtB   UnicodeB simsunb.ttf     v5.00
FangSong 仿宋 GB18030 simfang.ttf     v5.01
KaiTi 楷体 GB18030 simkai.ttf     v5.01
FangSong_GB2312 仿宋_GB2312 GB2312 SIMFANG.TTF v2.00 v2.00  
KaiTi_GB2312 楷体_GB2312 GB2312 SIMKAI.TTF v2.00 v2.00  
  • Unicode = Contains the Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs block.
  • UnicodeA = Contains the Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs and Extension A blocks.
  • UnicodeB = Contains the Extension B block (only).

* = PMingLiU is a proportional font, while MingLiU is monospaced. This difference does not affect Chinese text.
† = Includes MingLiU_HKSCS and MingLiU_HKSCS-ExtB.
‡ = Also supports Unicode's CJK Unified Ideographs Extension A block.

In addition, the Microsoft Office XP Proofing Tools (and Chinese editions) include the font Simsun (Founder Extended) [SURSONG.TTF, 宋体-方正超大字符集]. Created in January 2001, it contains over 64,000 hànzi, including most of the CJK Unified Ideographs Extension B block. Works perfectly in OS X 10.3 and above. Install it in the /Library/Fonts folder, and re-login after installing it. To avoid problems in OS X 10.4 and above, you should use Font Book to install this font. Use File > Add Fonts...


  • DFKai-SB has the same PostScript name ("DFKaiShu-SB-Estd-BF") as BiauKai, which comes with OS X. Only one font with a given PostScript name can be active in OS X at a time. They are the same font in terms of design and weight, but the Apple font is limited to the Big Five character set, while the Windows version is a GBK font. If you want to use this font for both simplified and traditional Chinese, then use Font Book to deactivate BiauKai and activate DFKai-SB instead.

Open Source

Noto CJK Sans and Noto CJK Serif

These are useful, free fonts from Google in seven weights (each) that pretty much everyone should have, unless you have installed Adobe's Source Han Sans and Source Han Serif, which are the exact same fonts. The principal designer was Ryoko Nishizuka of Adobe, working with Google and three font foundries in China (SinoType), Korea, and Japan. The selection of the character set was overseen by Ken Lunde of Adobe.

The basic idea is a set of fonts that can be used together as a unified font in a document that combines CJK languages, with the forms of the glyphs for each language correct for that region. They neglected to include glyphs localized for Hong Kong, but that will be rectified in v 2.000. You set them for each language in your word processor or page design app, and off you go:

Note: The SC fonts contain both SC and TC code points for the core 8,105 characters encoded in Unicode as of 2016 and listed in China's 通用规范汉字表 standard (a.k.a. TGH-2013), so there's no need for a separate TC font for China (as opposed to Taiwan and Hong Kong).

Hanazono [花園]

The Hanazono fonts are an offshoot of the GlyphWiki project, a database project based in Japan, with all the advantages and drawbacks of the Wiki approach: (Japanese) (English translation)

As of January 2018, Hanazono Mincho [花園明朝] is comprised of two fonts with a total of 88,884 Unicode kanji plus 8,828 glyph variants registered in the current Ideographic Variation Database (IVD):

  • HanaMinA.ttf (CJK Unified Ideographs, Extension A, Compatibility Ideographs, Radicals, Strokes, plus the IVD variants)
  • HanaMinB.ttf (Extensions B, C, D, E, F)


Mojikyo [文字鏡]

The Mojikyo fonts are Japanese Shift-JIS (JIS X 0208) fonts for the over 50,000 characters in the Morohashi dictionary [大漢和辞典] and its supplement, along with additional characters, including coverage beyond Unicode. Each font assigns characters to the code points for 5,641 Shift-JIS kanji [889F–979E, 989F–E79E]. The remaining code points for kanji in Shift-JIS are assigned blank characters.

There is a free "web" version of the fonts, available here:

These are Unicode-based OpenType fonts, perfect for Mac OS X. The Morohashi characters are contained in fonts M101-109. Each character is assigned a six-digit Mojikyo number — the main 48,902 Morohashi numbers first, then the supplement [補遺], then the numbers with primes [ダッシュ付き]. There is an online index to this part of the Mojikyo fonts, with characters listed by Mojikyo number after each radical:

Most of the Morohashi character set is now in Unicode, so the above is mainly just a curiosity. Fonts M110 and above contain characters not in Morohashi. These include oracle-bone characters [甲骨文字, M117–118], Siddham [梵字, M119–121], and Tangut [西夏文字, M202–203]. Many tens of thousands of additional CJK characters appear in fonts M110–116, M133–142, M186–201.

These fonts could be useful to anyone needing a CJK character or glyph not found in Unicode, but good luck finding what you're looking for without purchasing the commercial CD (see below) and running it in Windows. Still, we provide a text file containing the Shift-JIS kanji used by Mojikyo. This will allow you to examine the fonts. [Download] In OS X, you can use Apple's Font Book for this — just copy the text and paste it into the Preview > Custom window, then select the Mojikyo font you want to see. To use a Mojikyo character, just copy it into your document, then change the font for that character (only) to the correct Mojikyo font.

Kinokuniya distributes a commercial version on a CD which adds over 10,000 seal-script characters [篆書] (a nice feature of the original Morohashi dictionary, so I presume the Mojikyo glyphs are taken from there), and more. [Kinokuniya] [Amazon] See:

Font Tools

None of the tools listed here provides specific information about Chinese character-set coverage in a given font. At best, they organize the glyphs in a font by Unicode character blocks. This can be helpful, but it won't tell you, for example, what version of Hong Kong SCS is supported. Toward that end, we provide text files containing the hanzi for selected Chinese character sets:

  • Beyond Big Five: Big-5E (1998), listed by Big-5 block: [Download]
  • Beyond Big Five: Hong Kong SCS 1999, 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012: [Download]
  • Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs (1993+): [Download]
  • Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs Extension A (1999): [Download]
  • Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs Extension B (2001): [Download]
  • Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs Extension C (2009): [Download]
  • Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs Extension D (2010): [Download]
  • Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs Extension E (2015): [Download]
  • Unicode CJK Strokes 2005, 2008: [Download]

In theory, you can use these by copying and pasting the text into the Preview > Custom window in Font Book. In practice, such large files can cause problems. LinoType FontExplorer has a similar feature.

Font Book

Comes with OS X. You can create smart collections for Chinese fonts by setting the Languages criteria to "Chinese (Simplified)" and/or "Chinese (Traditional)." "Chinese" also works. For the most complete collection, use all three together. This works well for the fonts that come with OS X, but YMMV when you start adding other fonts:

For curated collections limited to Chinese fonts you might actually want to use, build regular collections from this Chinese smart collection.

Note: There is a bug in macOS 10.12 Sierra for smart collections and Chinese. They don't work. Fixed in macOS 10.13 High Sierra.

LinoType FontExplorer

Primarily a font manager like Font Book, but functions well as a font viewer, also like Font Book. LinoType is a vendor of high-quality fonts from a wide range of foundries, including Chinese. See our discussion of Chinese font foundries, above. OS X 10.9 and above.

Ultra Character Map

OS X 10.11 and above.

Font File Browser

OS X 10.11 and above.

Font Editors

Apple Font Tools

Free. Apple provides a suite of command-line font tools, along with a set of instructions and a tutorial.

DTL OTMaster 6

From the makers of DTL FontMaster, Dutch Type Library's OTMaster 6 allows you to review and edit the tables and contours of fonts in all OpenType and TrueType formats. Full Unicode support for large CJK fonts and complex-script (Indic, Arabic etc.) fonts.

OS X 10.7 and above.

Glyphs 2

Glyphs 2 has the stamp of approval of FounderType at Beijing University, since they sell it on their site for the domestic Chinese market, here.

OS X 10.9 and above.

FontLab VI

FontLab VI is FontLab's current flagship product, released December 2017 after more than two years in development.

As of December 2017: "CJKV fonts may be imported into FontLab but they can only be generated as TrueType fonts and will have no vertical metric sidebearings." I don't know what that means, but FontLab has a history of good support for Chinese fonts in products like AsiaFont Studio.

OS X 10.10 and above.