How to write Hindi using Unicode font
Hindi is a wonderful language to speak and write. The Devnagri script, used for writing Hindi, is also easy, scientific and logical. And given the number of people using Hindi, one would think it would be easy to work in Hindi. Yes, it is. But, not on computers. Not for all purposes and certainly not in all settings.
Recently, I had to key-in a few articles in Hindi for my school magazine. Thanks to Microsoft’s dedicated support to non-English languages, Windows XP and Windows 7, as well as other Microsoft products, do have an in-built Unicode support. It made typing the articles in Hindi on MS Word a breeze.
All the articles were keyed-in within a short time and sent to the printers.
But, soon after, I got an SOS from the printers. They wanted to know which font I had used for Hindi articles and why was this font not being accepted by their software.
I told them I had used Mangal font, which is a Unicode font and works well on my computer. I had to tell them that there was no virus or file corruption either. I was called by the printers to get an overview of the problem they were facing. I learnt that no one knew how to write Hindi using Unicode font.
And what I learnt there more really startled me. The printers in our city invariably use either CorelDRAW or Pagemaker for typesetting and page designing in Hindi.
I found that none of them were using Quark Express or Adobe Indesign. And since both Corel Draw and Pagemaker are dated softwares, they did not support Unicode.
I was told to re-type the entire matter. I hate typing long texts in Hindi. And going through the same travail was a pain for me. I, finally, managed to resolve the problem.
But, this problem had given me nightmares. And it also made me think why Hindi Unicode was not being supported by companies that manufacture some of the most useful and wonderful softwares, e.g. Adobe Indesign and Quark Express.
Adding display languages and adding keyboards
The Unicode technology has made life easier for those who work in Hindi and other Indic and regional languages. Adding Hindi as a display language and adding Hindi keyboards or input methods is as easy as clicking a few buttons.
For adding Hindi as a display language on Windows 7 follow these steps:
- Go to Control Panel
- Choose Region and Language
- Click Keyboards & Languages tab >
- For installing Hindi as a display language click: Install/Uninstall Languages
- For changing keyboards, click Change Keyboards >General>Add>Hindi
- Choose Hindi and tick the checkbox against Devnagri-Inscript.
- Now you can change your keyboard from English to Devnagri-Inscript by pressing Alt+Shift. For changing the keyboard back to English press Alt+Shift again.
The process for Windows XP is somewhat similar. Only the names of some of the tabs and buttons are slightly different.
Most of the printers use Kruti fonts or its hundreds of variants for designing and publishing Hindi text and documents.
Kruti is a good font and has served the Hindi publishing industry well for a long time. Being freely available, it is widely used in the publishing industry.
But, it is a true type font and rather an old one. It has become dated.
It can not be used on websites unless embedded into codes. Besides, it is rather an old fashioned one and can’t fulfill the requirements of the fast-expanding publishing and media industry.
There are also several proprietary fonts used by Hindi publishers. Most of the Hindi newspapers have been using proprietary fonts.
Given the need of the media houses to have internet as well as print editions of their publication, many media houses have now started converting to Unicode fonts.
The problem is that among leading pagemaking softwares, neither Quark Express (widely used in India) nor Adobe Indesign have inbuilt support for Hindi unicode fonts.
But, there are proprietary third-party plugins available, which make it possible to work with Hindi unicode fonts even in Quark Express and Adobe Indesign.
However, these have not become very popular and are not easily available. So, the small and medium publishers are unwilling to abandon Kruti font yet.
And since latest pagemaking softwares do not support Unicode font, they are forced to continue using Corel Draw and Pagemaker.
One fails to understand why Quark Express has not provided Hindi Unicode support to its latest editions.
Some feel that it is because piracy is prevalent in India.
Whatever be the reason, the Hindi publishing industry does need a good pagemaking software that can support Hindi unicode fonts and is as convenient as Pagemaker and CorelDRAW.
Well, I resolved my problem by converting Mangal text into Kruti Dev by using a proprietary converter. There are several such converters available on different websites. You may choose one that suits your needs.