Gentium Release 1.02
28 November 2005
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the Gentium fonts:
How do you pronounce Gentium?
The preferred pronunciation is with a soft G as in 'general', not a
hard one as in 'gold': JEN-tee-oom.
What is GentiumAlt?
It is a version of the font with redesigned diacritics (flatter
ones) to make it more suitable for use with stacking diacritics, and
for languages such as Vietnamese. The Greek glyphs also use the
Porsonic (single-curve) design for the circumflex. Since Gentium
does not currently include any 'smart' rendering routines, there is
no easy way to access these alternate diacritic shapes from within
the regular Gentium font. The encoding of the fonts are the same, so
the same text can be viewed with either one. There is also no
problem with having both font families installed at the same time.
I want to use Gentium in my publication - can I?
Gentium is released under the SIL Open Font License, which permits use
for any publication, whether electronic or printed. For more answers
to use questions see the OFL-FAQ. The license, alongside information
specific to Gentium, is in the release package.
I would like to bundle Gentium with my application - can I?
This is our most common question. The SIL Open Font License allows
bundling with applications, even commercial ones, with some restrictions.
See the OFL file.
Can I use the font on my web site?
You can certainly create web pages that request that Gentium be used to
display them (if that font is available on the user's system). According
to the license, you are even allowed to place the font on your site for
people to download it. We would strongly recommend, however, that you
direct users to our site to download the font. This ensures that they
are always using the most recent version with bug fixes, etc. To make
this easier, we've simplified the URL for Gentium:
Is Gentium going to stay free?
There is no intention to ever charge users for using Gentium. The
current version is licensed under a free/open license and future
versions will be similar.
I would like to modify Gentium to add a couple of characters I need. Can I?
Yes - that is allowed as long as you abide by the conditions of the
SIL Open Font License.
So will you add glyphs upon request?
If you have a special symbol that you need (say, for a particular
transcription system), the best means of doing so will be to ensure
that the symbol makes it into the Unicode Standard. It is impossible
for us to add every glyph that every person desires, but we do place
a high priority on adding pretty much anything that falls in certain
Unicode ranges (extended Latin, Greek, Cyrillic). You can send us your
requests, but please understand that we are unlikely to add symbols
where the user base is very small, unless they have been accepted
Can I send you work I've done to be incorporated into Gentium?
Yes! See the FONTLOG for information on becoming a contributor.
Can you help me get Gentium working on my system?
We cannot afford to offer individual technical support. The best
resource is this website, where we hope to offer some limited help.
However, we do want to hear of any problems you encounter, so that
we can add them to the list of bugs to fix in later releases.
Our contact address is . Please understand
that we cannot guarantee a personal response.
I can't find all the extended Latin letters in the font. How do I type them?
Gentium is Unicode-encoded, which means that the computer stores a
special, unique code for each letter in your document. Since most
keyboards do not have hundreds of keys, special software is needed
in order to type the hundreds of special characters supported by the
I can't find the 'o with right hook' in the font. Where is it?
Combinations of base letters with diacritics are often called
composite, or pre-composed glyphs. Gentium has hundreds of these
(the ones that are included in Unicode). There are, however, many
common combinations that are not represented by a single composite.
It is possible to enter these into a document, but only as
individual components. So 'o with right hook' would be entered as
'o', then 'right hook'. Although this may not look very good in some
cases, we're not able to anticipate every possible combination.
Future versions of Gentium will include 'smart font' support for
technologies such as OpenType and SIL's Graphite. This will make
diacritic positioning much better.
Some diacritics are not aligning well with base glyphs, and if I type more
than one diacritic, they run into each other. Why is that?
Gentium currently has no 'smart font' code for automatic diacritic
positioning, but will in the near future.
How do I type the Greek letters?
You need a Unicode-compatible keyboarding system, which is not
included in the distribution package.
I'm having problems making PDFs -- why won't my document distill?
Gentium is a large font, with lots of glyphs. As a result, some
printers can balk at PDFs that have the complete font embedded. The
easiest way to avoid this is to have Acrobat/Distiller subset the
font. This is generally a good idea anyway (with any font) and can
reduce the size of your files.
Now that SIL International has taken over Gentium, who will be the next
Victor Gaultney will remain as primary designer, but Annie Olsen, a
fellow type designer from the SIL Non-Roman Script Initiative, has
joined the project team. She is a former calligraphy teacher, and is
well suited for the task. Other members of the NRSI team will also
add their expertise in technical matters.
Do you plan to include other typographic enhancements (small caps, old style
Those would be nice, wouldn't they. From a design point of view,
it would be great to have these refinements, and we haven't ruled
them out. But there are other needs that are much higher priority
(Bold, Cyrillic, etc.). If you think you could contribute some of
your time and effort to these enhancements, see the FONTLOG file for
information on becoming a contributor.
What about bold?
We hope to make a prototype of a Bold weight (and a few others,
including italic) available soon, but it will only cover basic Latin
glyphs at first. Once we are confident that the basic design is solid,
we will begin to design the bold versions of the other hundreds of
glyphs. Be patient, though, as Gentium has lots of glyphs!
There is a definite need for a sans-serif font that shares some of
GentiumÕs strengths -- high readability, economy of space, etc. It
would also be great if that font also harmonized well with Gentium.
We don't currently have any plans for a companion face, although one
of our other projects - Andika - may be useful. Andika is a sans-serif
font designed specifically for use in literacy programs around the
world. A prototype should be available in a few months.
Will you be extending Gentium to cover other scripts, and Hebrew in
It is very unlikely that we would do this, as there are so many
pressing needs in Latin, Greek and Cyrillic scripts. But you could
contribute to the project.
When will Cyrillic be completed?
As soon as we can get it done, but it is still a few months away.
I need a couple of ancient Greek glyphs, such as the digamma. When will
those be ready?
These have already been designed and will be in the next release
Will there be a Type 1 version? What about OpenType?
The next generation of Gentium will have OpenType, Graphite and AAT
support. We do not plan to produce Type 1 versions at this time, but
please write us if this is important (and tell us why). We are, however,
considering releasing a version in OT-CFF format, but it will not go
through the same careful testing as the standard OT/Graphite/AAT version.