Recommended tools and Unicode fonts to type in Indian languages

Recommended tools and Unicode fonts to type in Indian languages

Hello folks,

Our team at TISS has been busy in creating/curating/translating digital educational resources in Indian languages. When we onboard volunteers and colleagues two recurring questions asked are:

  1. what tool to use to type?
  2. what font to use?

So, thought to crowdsource the knowledge of commons and compile best practices on Indic typing. Please answer above two questions indicating whether the suggested solution is device/operating system/application specific or agnostic (best case).
Let’s share :writing_hand:

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For Urdu اردو:

  1. I prefer changing to Urdu phonetic keyboard typing on laptop/desktop which can be easily configured on Ubuntu/Debian/Windows. Google input tool also works reasonably well.

  2. Recommended Urdu unicode font is Nastaleeq. Almost universal consensus. Nataleeq is simple and soothing. Jameel Noori Nastaleeq/Alvi Nastaleeq/Jameel Kasheed are variants.
    Generally, Urdu fonts are not available by default in the system fonts and usually appear ugly/broken.
    Nastaleeq fonts can be donwloaded from below link(OFL and other open licensed):
    Search Font Library

Donwload the .ttf file and copy it to [blue=#]Fonts[/blue] folder/directory.

I have been typing in Urdu since ~2008.

سٹیم گیمس/میٹا اسٹوڈئیو میں یہ میری یہ پہلا اردو لکھاوٹ ہے۔

Note: I will edit on how to type in Urdu on Android phone. Or should that be a different thread?

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One important thing to know in this context is that input method is nothing todo with the font we use. Input method inserts unicode/ascii characters into the system, which will be rendered using any font. This is the logic for typing English, but also for all other scripts.

All fonts are not unicode, but most modern fonts are. A font defines the shape of the character, while input tool sends a symbolic value (usually a number) of unicode table.

Sorry, I may have sounded technical, but the bottom line is: use any input tool that you are familiar with. If you have already learnt to use phonetic, go for it. If you know how to do inscript, go for it. That does not affect other users who are editing the document.


Thanks GN, understanding the difference between input tool & font is very useful.

Two followup questions:

  1. How do we know if a font is a unicode or not? (literally this was asked by a colleague engaged in traslation, and I wasn’t able to answer).

  2. When a text is added using an editor how does rendering of text work. For example, the Urdu text in one of my above posts renders differently on different devices. So, could you help understand what’s at play? Why different rendering.

Ex 1. On Ubuntu 18.04 (Chrome browser), system has better rendering unicode font.

Ex 2. On Windows 10 (Chrome browser), system has better rendering unicode font.

Ex 3. On Android (Chrome browser)

Now, I actually would like the text to be rendered as,

Ex 4. unicode font in a document-processor (in Ubuntu based machine).

Is it possible/how can I achieve rendering text in fonts as shown in #4 above on metastudio?

Sorry, too many questions, but these are some questions I have been wanting clarity on.