Beyond the Sim and the Sun — Chinese Typography Part 1/3

I’ve thought about this, and I’ve decided to give a 3-part series based on my knowledge and experience with Chinese design publications. I’m not an expert, definitely, but it’s my hope that you, the designer or the audience, will gain some insight and form some of your own as well. Chinese is a beautiful language, and it deserves to be standing proud on its own. 🙂

Most of you are familiar with these 2 fonts. They come standard in every computer, and hence, quite unfortunately, in almost every design as well.

P.S. The following fonts are shown in Traditional Chinese, but all have Simplified Versions. No worries!

There’s nothing wrong with these fonts; it’s just that they’ve been over used to the point that it looks very boring and repetitive. Unless you want your design to be one of the “rest”, try staying away from these fonts. But of course, it depends also on the PURPOSE of the font. If it’s for a body of text, it MAY (read: MAY) be okay to use them. Depending, but I still don’t recommend it. Because they’re much nicer alternatives out there.

1. Zongyi

This is a very commonly used font in popular entertainment magazines and shows, as the title might have already hinted to you. Zongyi font is perfect for taglines, titles, headers and quotes. It’s good for promotional purposes. But precisely so, you may wanna refrain from making your school report or assignment look too gimmicky.

2. Dahei

Think of Dahei as Helvetica Bold. It’s when you wanna emphasize stuff. Dahei is awesome for subheaders, bulleted points, bylines, short introductory text. But because this font has a thicker width, a body of Dahei text may prove too overbearing on the eye, so its not for large pages of text.

3. Zhunyuan

Zhunyuan is a less formal font due to its roundness and amicability. It’s really versatile; you can use it as a header, subheader, body text font — just about anything. I’d say Zhunyuan is the most useful font to have in your font library.

5. Youxian

Youxian, as its name suggests, is a very thin, light font. Like English light fonts, Youxian shines as a header (which has to be extra big to compensate for its thinness). When used correctly, Youxian exudes an air of exclusivity and class to your design. Good for fashion spreads and new-age designs. Do note that its legibility is not very high since the strokes are thin and are disconnected. So avoid using as body text.

Okay, that’s all for tonight. In the next part I will explain how to classify Chinese fonts and the design rules that usually work for Chinese fonts.



About jiromaiya

Largely popular with a few exceptions, he doesn't love the whole world, and doesn't try to either. A typical Singaporean epicurean, he enjoy

15 responses to “Beyond the Sim and the Sun — Chinese Typography Part 1/3

  1. Jinhan

    WOW I am impressed! Very nice and informative blog post. More people should read and comment!

  2. Hannah

    I love how you observe the similarity in Chinese and English typefaces. Now it makes me wonder, should I avoid using these corresponding Chinese typefaces as I do with the English? At least I’ve been told to stay away from them at all cost in design school 🙂

    • jiromaiya

      Hey Hannah, thanks for ur comment!

      I guess it really depends on the kind of work you are doing… If its for a formal periodical, its good to stick to a standard font. But as with English, even a slight change in font can make a report heaps better to read. For a trendy magazine, you could afford to be much more creative in choosing more lively and bold fonts. 🙂 it boils down to experimentation! 😀

  3. Tony Palmer

    Hi Jiro

    Yes, a really impressive set of posts. Well done.

    我是澳洲人。我说英文和设计用英文, 但是学中文学的三年。

    I have one question – you suggest that Simsun is overused and I would agree with you – but what other serif/text setting fonts would you recommend?



    • jiromaiya

      Hi Tony!

      Thanks for visiting and commenting! Jiayou with your Chinese; it’s not an easy language to learn, but it can be rewarding!

      For Chinese fonts, I would generally recommend using Hiragano Sans GB W3 and W6 to replace Simhei (as sans serif font).
      For serif fonts to replace Simsun, there’s quite a variety. You could use Adobe Fangsong, DaBiao Songti, so any of the fonts I’ve listed above.

      Do note that for even Simsun and Simhei themselves have been released by at least 3 different foundries, Microsoft, Adobe and ST. Apparently Adobe and ST modified many of the standard fonts supplied by Microsoft. So you can expect Simsun and Simhei to appear slightly differently using Adobe Simhei compared to the standard Simhei.

      • Tony Palmer

        你说得对。 学中文很难但是很有意思。

        DaBiao Songti is a good recommendation. Many thanks.

        还有一个问提,在英文我们有这些设计书:Erik Speakermann’s, Stop Stealing Sheep 和 Bringhurst’s The Elements of Style. 但是不能找中文活字印刷术的书。你能不能介绍字印刷术的书?

      • jiromaiya

        Hi Tony,

        These books that you mention i haven’t read them, but I do know of people that specifically talk about Chinese typography.

        The books that interest me are the ones written by native Chinese designers in Taiwan / HK / Mainland, rather than translated ones of Western designers. You can find a smattering of such books in Asian stores, but your best bet is from ordering from online Chinese bookrooms like Eslite ( Note though these books are in Traditional Chinese and it’s amazing hard to find English translations of these Chinese design books. Hope this helps. By the way are you also a designer?

  4. Tony Palmer

    Hi Jiro, many thanks again for your response.

    Yes. I am a book designer. Have been doing this for the past 25 years in Melbourne Australia.

    • jiromaiya

      Hi Tony,

      Thanks for your visits, no worries, I enjoy talking about these topics to people. Have sent you an email 🙂

  5. Jiro, these posts are fantastic. I have been searching for info on Chinese typefaces, and your post relating examples to their Roman counterparts is exactly what I needed.

    One question: I can’t find anywhere near the diversity of Chinese fonts as Roman fonts. Do you have any suggestions as to where to start finding decent quality Chinese typefaces?


  6. jiromaiya

    Hi Cary,

    Thanks for your encouragement! Chinese fonts have a very different nomenclature compared to English fonts, you can find out more about them at another of my posts

    You can start from googling ‘Chinese fonts’ and that should give you quite a lot of fonts already! The harder part really is the classification of these font faces. Hope this helps!

  7. Haruki Wakamatsu

    Thanks for the thorough info! Are the fonts listed here available for free anywhere?

  8. Roger

    Where can i download this ????

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

這就是我 me

日曆上的日記 archives

January 2012
« Dec   Feb »

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 20 other followers

回憶錄 memory lane

分割別類 categories

%d bloggers like this: