Font support from the Wikimedia Foundation

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Fonts are needed to display characters on a screen. When a user does not have all the necessary fonts for the characters that are shown on a screen, he will not see what is written.

Interwiki links[edit]

When articles have corresponding articles in a different language, we use interwiki links to link these articles together. We have a practice to indicate that this information exists by showing the name of the language as it is written in that language. As more and more wikipedias grow in size, there is a growing list of these interwiki links. An article like George W. Bush has already over 45 interwiki links. Some of the names of the languages will show as little blocks because the appropriate fonts have not been installed on the users computer.

Wiktionary[edit]

In other projects like Wiktionary, words are show with often many translations. The word nl:water on the Dutch wiktionary for instance has more than hundred translations and, these suffer the same fate; often they are shown as the infamous little blocks.

The problem for the user[edit]

When you want to include the missing fonts, there is not a clear answer how to proceed on the pages of the Wikipedia projects. In essence users are left to their own devices. Some people will install the fonts that came with their operating system. Some find individual fonts for specific languages they are interested in. All in all, it is messy.

Solutions[edit]

For the Wikimedia Foundation there are several solutions to this problem.

Do nothing[edit]

The argument for doing nothing is, that the system and its configuration is up to the user. When he cannot hack it, tough, we may write an "how to" and that is the extent of our help.

Inform about existing fonts[edit]

One step beyond writing a "how to" is to collect information about existing fonts and for what languages they are applicable. As the Ultimate Wiktionary aims to include all languages, the data design allows for the registration of this information.

Package existing Free fonts[edit]

Many of the fonts that can be found on the Internet are Free. When we package these fonts, we make it easier for users to have the best possible result. Obviously, we will document the fonts and properly attribute the fonts to the creators of the fonts.

Free fonts[edit]

Many of the fonts are available as "freeware". When we ask the owners of these fonts nicely, we may find that we can have them or that we can buy them for a reasonable price. One thing that can also be considered is to ask the governments of countries where languages are spoken that require special fonts.

Have new fonts created[edit]

There are many ways in which we can have new fonts created; one obvious way is to make it part of a term project for graphical design students.