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Configure Unicode fonts for Emacs.

Using the Native Mac backend


(require 'unicode-fonts)


Keystrokes Notes
C-h h same as M-x view-hello-file
M-x list-charset-chars RET unicode-bmp RET search for eg 210x
M-x list-charset-chars RET unicode-smp RET if your display backend supports astral chars
M-x unicode-fonts-debug-insert-block RET Mathematical_Operators RET


M-x customize-group RET unicode-fonts RET


Emacs maintains font mappings on a per-glyph basis, meaning that multiple fonts are used at the same time (transparently) to display any character for which you have a font. Furthermore, Emacs does this out of the box.

However, font mappings via fontsets are a bit difficult to configure. In addition, the default setup does not always pick the most legible fonts. As the manual warns, the choice of font actually displayed for a non-ASCII character is "somewhat random".

The Unicode standard provides a way to organize font mappings: it divides character ranges into logical groups called "blocks". This library configures Emacs in a Unicode-friendly way by providing mappings from

each Unicode block  ---to--->   a font with good coverage

and makes the settings available via the customization interface.

This library provides font mappings for 233 of the 255 blocks in the Unicode 8.0 standard which are public and have displayable characters. It assumes that 6 Latin blocks are covered by the default font. 16/255 blocks are not mapped to any known font.

To use unicode-fonts, place the unicode-fonts.el file somewhere Emacs can find it, and add the following to your ~/.emacs file:

(require 'unicode-fonts)

See important notes about startup speed below.

Minimum Useful Fonts

To gain any benefit from the library, you must have fonts with good Unicode support installed on your system. If you are running a recent version of OS X or Microsoft Windows, you already own some good multi-lingual fonts, though you would do very well to download and install the six items below:

From http://dejavu-fonts.org/wiki/Download

DejaVu Sans, DejaVu Sans Mono

From http://www.quivira-font.com/downloads.php


From http://users.teilar.gr/~g1951d/Symbola.zip ; NOTE: site is down as of July 2015


From http://www.google.com/get/noto/

Noto Sans, Noto Sans Symbols

It is also recommended to remove GNU Unifont from your system. Unifont is very useful for debugging, but not useful for reading.

Startup Speed

The default options favor correctness and completeness over speed, and can add many seconds to initial startup time in GUI mode.

However, when possible a font cache is kept between sessions. If you have persistent-soft.el installed, when you start Emacs the second time, the startup cost should be negligible.

The disk cache will be rebuilt during Emacs startup whenever a font is added or removed, or any relevant configuration variables are changed. To increase the speed of occasionally building the disk cache, you may use the customization interface to remove fonts from unicode-fonts-block-font-mapping which are not present on your system.

Unmapped Blocks

On the assumption that an extended Latin font such as Monaco, Consolas, or DejaVu Sans Mono is already being used for the default face, no separate mappings are provided for the following Unicode blocks:

Basic Latin
Latin Extended Additional
Latin Extended-A
Latin Extended-B
Latin-1 Supplement
Spacing Modifier Letters

though some of these remain configurable via customize.


Color Emoji are enabled by default when using the Native Mac port on OS X. This can be disabled by customizing each relevant mapping, or by turning off all multicolor glyphs here:

M-x customize-variable RET unicode-fonts-skip-font-groups RET


Calling set-fontset-font can easily crash Emacs. There is a workaround, but it may not be sufficient on all platforms. Tested on Cocoa Emacs, Native Mac Emacs, X11/XQuartz, MS Windows XP.

Widths of alternate fonts do not behave as expected on MS Windows. For example, DejaVu Sans Mono box-drawing characters may use a different width than the default font.

Free International and Symbol Fonts

Free fonts recognized by this package may be downloaded from the following locations. For any language, it is increasingly likely that Noto Sans provides coverage:

From http://www.google.com/get/noto/

Noto Sans and friends         ; 181 Unicode blocks and counting; sole
                              ; source for these blocks:
                              ;   Bamum / Bamum Supplement / Kaithi
                              ;   Mandaic / Meetei Mayek Extensions
                              ;   Sundanese Supplement
                              ; Also a good source for recently-added
                              ; glyphs such as "Turkish Lira Sign".

From http://scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?item_id=CharisSIL_download
or http://scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?item_id=DoulosSIL_download

Charis SIL or Doulos SIL      ; Extended European and diacritics

From http://scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?item_id=Gentium_download

Gentium Plus                  ; Greek

From http://users.teilar.gr/~g1951d/ ; NOTE: site is down as of July 2015

Aegean, Aegyptus, Akkadian    ; Ancient languages
Analecta                      ; Ancient languages, Deseret
Anatolian                     ; Ancient languages
Musica                        ; Musical Symbols
Nilus                         ; Ancient languages

From http://www.wazu.jp/gallery/views/View_MPH2BDamase.html

MPH 2B Damase                 ; Arabic, Armenian, Buginese, Cherokee, Georgian,
                              ; Glagolitic, Hanunoo, Kharoshthi, Limbu, Osmanya,
                              ; Shavian, Syloti Nagri, Tai Le, Thaana

From http://scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?site_id=nrsi&id=NamdhinggoSIL

Namdhinggo SIL                ; Limbu

From http://wenq.org/wqy2/index.cgi?FontGuide

WenQuanYi Zen Hei             ; CJK (Simplified Chinese)

From http://babelstone.co.uk/Fonts/

BabelStone Han                ; CJK (Simplified Chinese)
BabelStone Phags-pa Book      ; Phags-pa
BabelStone Modern             ; Tags / Specials / Selectors

From http://vietunicode.sourceforge.net/fonts/fonts_hannom.html

HAN NOM A, HAN NOM B          ; CJK (Nôm Chinese)

From http://kldp.net/projects/unfonts/

Un Batang                     ; CJK (Hangul)

From http://sourceforge.jp/projects/hanazono-font/releases/

Hana Min A, Hana Min B        ; CJK (Japanese)

From http://scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?site_id=nrsi&id=SILYi_home

Nuosu SIL                     ; CJK (Yi)

From http://www.daicing.com/manchu/index.php?page=fonts-downloads

Daicing Xiaokai               ; Mongolian

From http://www.library.gov.bt/IT/fonts.html

Jomolhari                     ; Tibetan

From http://www.thlib.org/tools/scripts/wiki/tibetan%20machine%20uni.html

Tibetan Machine Uni           ; Tibetan

From http://scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?item_id=Padauk

Padauk                        ; Myanmar

From https://code.google.com/p/myanmar3source/downloads/list

Myanmar3                      ; Myanmar

From http://www.yunghkio.com/unicode/

Yunghkio                      ; Myanmar

From https://code.google.com/p/tharlon-font/downloads/list

TharLon                       ; Myanmar

From http://sourceforge.net/projects/prahita/files/Myanmar%20Unicode%20Fonts/MasterpieceUniSans/

Masterpiece Uni Sans          ; Myanmar

From http://sarovar.org/projects/samyak/

Samyak                        ; Gujarati, Malayalam, Oriya, Tamil

From http://software.sil.org/annapurna/download/

Annapurna SIL                 ; Devanagari

From http://guca.sourceforge.net/typography/fonts/anmoluni/

AnmolUni                      ; Gurmukhi

From http://brahmi.sourceforge.net/downloads2.html

Kedage                        ; Kannada

From http://www.omicronlab.com/bangla-fonts.html

Mukti Narrow                  ; Bengali

From http://www.kamban.com.au/downloads.html

Akshar Unicode                ; Sinhala

From http://tabish.freeshell.org/eeyek/download.html

Eeyek Unicode                 ; Meetei Mayek

From http://scripts.sil.org/CMS/scripts/page.php?&item_id=Mondulkiri

Khmer Mondulkiri              ; Khmer

From http://www.laoscript.net/downloads/

Saysettha MX                  ; Lao

From http://www.geocities.jp/simsheart_alif/taithamunicode.html

Lanna Alif                    ; Tai Tham

From http://scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?site_id=nrsi&id=DaiBannaSIL

Dai Banna SIL                 ; New Tai Lue

From http://scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?item_id=TaiHeritage

Tai Heritage Pro              ; Tai Viet

From http://sabilulungan.org/aksara/

Sundanese Unicode             ; Sundanese

From http://www.amirifont.org/

Amiri                         ; Arabic (Naskh)

From http://scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?item_id=Scheherazade

Scheherazade                  ; Arabic (Naskh)

From http://www.farsiweb.ir/wiki/Persian_fonts

Koodak                        ; Arabic (Farsi)

From http://openfontlibrary.org/font/ahuramazda/

Ahuramzda                     ; Avestan

From http://scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?site_id=nrsi&id=AbyssinicaSIL

Abyssinica SIL                ; Ethiopic

From http://www.bethmardutho.org/index.php/resources/fonts.html

Estrangelo Nisibin            ; Syriac

From http://www.evertype.com/fonts/nko/

Conakry                       ; N'ko

From http://uni.hilledu.com/download-ribenguni

Ribeng                        ; Chakma

From http://www.virtualvinodh.com/downloads

Adinatha Tamil Brahmi         ; Brahmi

From http://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/freefont/

FreeMono, etc (FreeFont)      ; Kayah Li (and others)

From http://ulikozok.com/aksara-batak/batak-font/

Batak-Unicode                 ; Batak

From http://scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?site_id=nrsi&id=Mingzat

Mingzat                       ; Lepcha

From http://phjamr.github.io/lisu.html#install

Lisu Unicode                  ; Lisu
Miao Unicode                  ; Miao
Mro Unicode                   ; Mro

From http://scholarsfonts.net/cardofnt.html

Cardo                         ; Historical Languages

From http://sourceforge.net/projects/junicode/files/junicode/

Junicode                      ; Historical Languages

From http://www.evertype.com/fonts/vai/

Dukor                         ; Vai

From http://sourceforge.net/projects/zhmono/

ZH Mono                       ; Inscriptional Pahlavi / Parthian

From http://culmus.sourceforge.net/ancient/index.html

Aramaic Imperial Yeb          ; Imperial Aramaic

From http://www.languagegeek.com/font/fontdownload.html

Aboriginal Sans               ; Aboriginal Languages
Aboriginal Serif

From http://scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?site_id=nrsi&id=EzraSIL_Home

Ezra SIL                      ; Hebrew

From http://www.evertype.com/fonts/coptic/

Antinoou                      ; Coptic / General Punctuation

From http://apagreekkeys.org/NAUdownload.html

New Athena Unicode            ; Ancient Languages / Symbols

From http://markmail.org/thread/g57mk4sbdycblxds

KhojkiUnicodeOT               ; Khojki

From https://github.com/andjc/ahom-unicode/tree/master/font

AhomUnicode                   ; Ahom

From https://github.com/MihailJP/oldsindhi/releases

OldSindhi                     ; Khudawadi

From https://github.com/MihailJP/Muktamsiddham/releases

MuktamsiddhamG                ; Siddham  (note trailing "G" on font name)

From https://github.com/MihailJP/MarathiCursive/releases

MarathiCursiveG               ; Modi  (note trailing "G" on font name)

From https://github.com/OldHungarian/old-hungarian-font/releases

OldHungarian                  ; Old Hungarian

From http://tutohtml.perso.sfr.fr/unicode.html

Albanian                      ; Elbasan / Takri / Sharada

From https://github.com/enabling-languages/cham-unicode/tree/master/fonts/ttf

Cham OI_Tangin                ; Cham

Non-free Fonts

Many non-free fonts are referenced by the default settings. However, free alternatives are also given wherever possible, and patches are of course accepted to improve every case.

Chinese and Arabic Scripts

If you are using a language written in Chinese or Arabic script, try customizing unicode-fonts-skip-font-groups to control which script you see, and send a friendly bug report.

Unicode "Scripts"

Unicode also defines the notion of a "script" as a higher-level abstraction which is independent of "blocks". Modern fonts can report their script coverage, and Emacs may also access that information. However, this library ignores scripts in favor of blocks and glyphs.

Compatibility and Requirements

GNU Emacs version 25.1-devel     : not tested
GNU Emacs version 24.5           : not tested
GNU Emacs version 24.4           : yes
GNU Emacs version 24.3           : yes
GNU Emacs version 23.3           : yes
GNU Emacs version 22.3 and lower : no

Requires fonts-utils.el, ucs-utils.el

Uses if present: persistent-soft.el (Recommended)