This article was originally posted on WomenLearnThai.com.
Thai designers do use Arial…
Thai fonts sizes are all over the place. And if you don’t choose a well-designed font, to get the Thai and English to balance you’ll be forced to adjust sizes by hand. Tedious. Throw in transliteration – not all fonts design for it – and if you are not careful you’ll end up with a mess.
I went the difficult route until I discovered Arial Unicode MS, but these days I stick mostly to Thonburi. Both Arial Unicode and Thonburi (sans serifs) allow me to use the same font size for English and Thai, and the transliteration scales wonderfully as well.
My design friends freaked when I mentioned that the font I used most was Arial. But hey, we live in different worlds now (and it’s not like I’m committing sin with Comic Sans). Of course I want pleasing to the eye pages but spending all my time editing individual words is just not logical. There’s Thai to be learned folks!
I use Arial Unicode MS font for most unicode stuff… both diacritics on latin letters and complex scripts. If you need diacritics on latin letters use the Mac OSX US Extended keyboard. They have all the tonemarkers built into short cuts using shift + alt + key combinations.
Fredrik Almstedt recently introduced me to Adobe Thai, a serif font with a wonderful balance. It’s not free but I’ve included it due to its clean attributes. So, apart from Adobe Thai, the list below is free for personal use. Note: If you want to include any fonts in a software package, you just might have to buy a licence (so please do check first).
Thai National fonts (Thai: ฟอนต์แห่งชาติ; rtgs: [font] haeng chat), or colloquially SIPA fonts (Thai: ฟอนต์ซิป้า, are a group of thirteen Thai-Roman fonts distributed and used by the Government of Thailand as public and official fonts after they won a national competition.
The Council of Ministers officially announced the thirteen fonts as the public fonts, naming them the “national fonts”. The public agencies were ordered to use these fonts, especially “TH Sarabun PSK”, in their state papers.
The Thai fonts listed come from all over the place but in no way could I include everything I found. If your favourite Thai font (preferably free) isn’t represented just drop me a line and I’ll make it so.
When you download the pdf you’ll see that it’s in six sections, showing as many comparisons as there was time for. Again, if you can suggest more (time allowing), I’m game.
- Thai Font List: List of Thai fonts in English, Thai, and transliteration.
- Thai Font Samples: Thai fonts in 12, 14, 16 and 18 points.
- Thai Font Samples: Thai fonts in alphabetical order.
- Thai Font Samples: Thailand’s version of “The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog”.
- Thai Font Downloads: Links to download free the Thai fonts mentioned in this pdf.
- Thai Font Resources: Various font sites and information.
Here’s the FREE Thai Font Comparisons & Downloads download: 4.9mg pdf
Research posts are almost never done on my lonesome so before I continue I’d like to thank those who helped: Fredrik Almstedt, Stu Jay Raj, and Jan Nadertscher. Again, I owe … I owe …
5 thoughts on “FREE Thai Fonts: Comparisons & Downloads”
Don’t forget about the Free Thai Font Collection over at Lanna Innovation, which has 108 Free and Open Source Thai Fonts (as well as presentation and links to many more free to use (but not free to distribute) fonts, including all the DIP Sipa, Cadson Demak, Google Noto, JS Technology, TEPC, and NECTEC / TLWG fonts!
I used to spend hours drooling over them, but I haven’t kept up with what’s going on in font design. There are affordable font sets for the English market (I no longer remember the name of the company – it’ll come to me later).
Designing a font is a hell of a lot of work, and they are in a niche market. But their fonts are way outside my budget; several times what a Adobe or Linotype would charge.
As an aside, I wish Adobe would get their act together. I understand versions of their programs intended for use outside the U.S. support fonts like Thai and Arabic properly, but their U.S. versions — not so much. Maybe that has changed since I have been in the business…
Free is indeed good (especially for those of us who don’t work!) Fonts can be mighty expensive. And I don’t blame the font designers one bit, but I do know how much it costs for designers to keep a working stash.
This is great! As a former graphic designer, I am always looking for new fonts. And free ones are even better. 🙂
Cadson Demak has some gorgeous Thai fonts, but they are definitely NOT free. I enquired with them some years ago for pricing, and if I remember correctly, they were hundreds of dollars per font.