Unicode and Character Sets

a plain and simple overview

Fundamentally, computers just deal with numbers. They store letters and other characters by assigning a number for each one. Before Unicode was invented, there were hundreds of different encoding systems for assigning these numbers, but no single encoding could contain enough characters: for example, the European Union alone requires several different encodings to cover all its languages. Even for a single language like English no single encoding was adequate for all the letters, punctuation, and technical symbols in common use.
These encoding systems also conflict with one another. That is, two encodings can use the same number for two different characters, or use different numbers for the same character. Any given computer needs to support many different encodings; yet whenever data is passed between different encodings or platforms, that data always runs the risk of corruption.
Unicode provides a unique number for every character, no matter what the platform, no matter what the operative system, no matter what the language. For a complete overview on the Unicode Standard see the home page of the project and the Unicode Code Chart.

Figure 1

Our favourite Unicode font:
Doulos SIL

The goal for Doulos SIL was to provide a single Unicode-based font family that would contain a comprehensive inventory of glyphs needed for almost any Roman-based writing system, whether used for phonetic or orthographic needs. In addition, there is provision for other characters and symbols useful to linguists. This font makes use of state-of-the-art font technologies to support complex typographic issues, such as the need to position arbitrary combinations of base glyphs and diacritics optimally.

How to install your. fonts

Windows. installation procedure

first method: Copy the unpacked font in C:\Windows\Fonts.
second method: Press START/control panel/fonts; after the new windows opens, click on FILE and press INSTALL NEW FONT.
Note that certain applications may not see the new font immediately. You may have to quit and restart the application for the font to become available.

Macintosh. installation procedure

Put the font in /Library/Fonts. That's it.
Note that certain applications may not see the new font immediately. You may have to quit and restart the application for the font to become available.

Linux. installation procedure

If you were so wise to use a Linux based OS, your system fully supports UTF-8 and Unicode by default. Anyway, for a complete compatibility with this project please install the Doulos Sil font.
first method: If you use a Debian based GNU/Linux distribution like Ubuntu I recommend installing the unpacked font in your ~/.fonts directory. If this folder does not exist, create a new one in your Home directory and paste in the available font. Now you need to rebuild the fonts cache by typing in a terminal: sudo fc-cache -f -v.
second method: Open a terminal and type sudo cp [FONT].ttf /usr/share/fonts/truetype/. Then rebuild the fonts cache by typing in a termial: sudo fc-cache -f -v.
As for other Operative Systems, you probably need to restart your applications.

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