Help me see unicode fonts
September 18, 2010 12:59 PM   Subscribe

Help me see unicode fonts on my browser (Firefox 3.6.10). Yes, I've seen this and this, but they don't help me. I need step by step instructions for idiots.

My question is basically identical to the previous ones, only the answers there don't solve my problem. I want to see why this comment has been favorited a few times, but all I see is "Z[][][][]A[][][][]L[][][]G[][]O[]" (with the letters I can see being somewhat funky). I'm tired of not being able to see the peace symbol, or the snowman, or whatever other funky codes people have found out there.

I have the non-buggy version of firefox. My default font is Times New Roman, which is what I started with and never changed, and which I understand is supposed to be a unicode font.

So, those of you who can read that comment, what are your settings? Did you have to change anything to make it work? If there are fonts I'm missing, is there some unicode font pack I can download that will give me everything I'm missing?
posted by kingjoeshmoe to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your operating system is also important to solving this question.
posted by fontophilic at 1:11 PM on September 18, 2010

Response by poster: Microsoft XP Professional Service Pack 3.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 1:27 PM on September 18, 2010

That might be a bad example to try to fix. I've tried it in 5 different browsers on two different operating systems, and gotten different results each time. Here's the breakdown:

- OS X Chrome
- OS X Firefox
- OS X Opera
- Win XP Firefox
- Win XP IE 8

Now, obviously my Win XP Firefox works better than yours. So you obviously have a problem somewhere. But can you give us a less chaotic example to work with?
posted by sbutler at 2:29 PM on September 18, 2010

... and now that I've tested, I can tell you that both Firefox and IE 8 in Windows 7 give results that are (a) different from XP and (b) different from each other. So now 7 renderings in 3 operating systems!
posted by sbutler at 2:35 PM on September 18, 2010

Best answer: Times New Roman isn't really what I'd call a Unicode font. Look at that table on the Wikipedia page that you linked to and you'll see that compared to say Arial Unicode MS, it's got barely any coverage. If you want a fighting chance of seeing these things you'll need to install some fonts that include wide coverage of the non-Latin languages, and Times New Roman ain't one. As you can see from that chart Arial Unicode MS comes with Office, so if you installed Office that would be one way to get it. If you look around you might be able to find it on some shady download sites. You could also try one of the free fonts listed in that table.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:49 PM on September 18, 2010

...and I forget to mention that all that's required is to have the fonts installed; it doesn't matter what font you choose as the default in Firefox, or what font the page specifies. Firefox knows how to do substitutions amongst the installed fonts to find something when a specified glyph isn't in the currently selected font.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:51 PM on September 18, 2010

In the specific case of Zalgo, the effect is achieved by just tons and tons of combining diacriticals -- if you click on the 'Toggle reference sheet' you will see a list of all them, which lets you see which of them your browser is able to render. Then go back to that wikipedia page and look at the combining diacriticals range and pick a font that has the highest coverage (ideally one with a green box) to install.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:57 PM on September 18, 2010

Yes, I've seen this and this, but they don't help me.

Have you seen this?
posted by juv3nal at 4:17 PM on September 18, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all! Rhomboid's answer got me to my solution. Arial Unicode MS got me most of the way there, and GNU Unifont (which isn't a pretty font, but is almost double the size of Arial) got me the rest.

(Searching for Arial Unicode showed that some people also recommend Bitstream Cyberbit, but for me it didn't work, and actually prevented me from seeing some characters with GNU Unifont until I removed it.)
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 9:41 PM on September 20, 2010

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