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Using Unicode character indexing, a single OpenType font file can contain all the characters necessary for use in large number of languages.

OpenType and multiple languages

OpenType fonts can handle thousands of characters using the Unicode system. Unicode indexing covers hundreds of languages, and is the modern way to integrate the world’s languages in computer systems.

Several font foundries are already offering multilingual OpenType versions of their fonts. In addition to the common western European languages, these also cover Polish, Hungarian, Czech, Turkish, and more. Fonts are even appearing that cover Cyrillic and Greek too, all in the one font file.

Of course, it was possible to print Russian, Greek and Polish before OpenType. What’s the big deal, you might well ask? The answer lies in the use of unified character codes, or Unicode. This means that documents are saved with their character codes intact. They will survive moving from one machine to another, and their text will survive being copied from one application to another, or even e-mailed.

OpenType multilingual support

For example, with old font formats it was not possible to print a document which included both French and Polish accented characters without changing fonts. With Unicode and OpenType fonts, all the thousands of characters in Unicode are available to an author, and changing the font is something you can do throughout document creation.

Note that the decision to design characters for multiple languages remains with the type designer. When you buy fonts at, we advise you to check which languages a font covers before purchase.

Please also refer to our International section for more information regarding OpenType fonts with multilingual support.

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