East Asian gothic typeface

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A passage from the Thousand Character Classic in sans-serif typeface. The rightmost line is the original Chinese. The middle and the left lines are transliterations in Japanese kana and Korean Hangul, respectively.

Gothic typefaces (simplified Chinese: 黑体; traditional Chinese: 黑體; pinyin: hēitǐ; Japanese: ゴシック体 goshikku-tai; Korean: 돋움 dotum, 고딕체 godik-che) are a type style characterised by strokes of even thickness, reduced curves, and lack of decorations, akin to sans serif styles in Western typography. It is the second most commonly used style in East Asian typography, after Ming.


Similar to Ming and Song typefaces, sans-serif typefaces were designed for printing, but they were also designed for legibility. They are commonly used in headlines, signs, and video applications.


  • Square sans (Japanese: 角ゴシック kaku goshikku; simplified Chinese: 黑体; traditional Chinese: 黑體; pinyin: hēitǐ), the classic sans-serif style in which the lines of the characters have squared ends.
    • Overlapping square sans (Chinese: 叠黑体; pinyin: diéhēitǐ) - This style is similar to the square sans, but in places where strokes overlap, a margin is inserted between the strokes to distinguish the strokes.
  • Round sans (Japanese: 丸ゴシック maru goshikku, simplified Chinese: 圆体/黑圆体; traditional Chinese: 圓體/黑圓體; pinyin: yuántǐ/hēiyuántǐ) has rounded ends and corners to the lines of the characters. In some cases, short protruding stroke ends at intersections are eliminated to make glyphs look rounder. This is the style of typeface used for Japanese road signs.
    • Overlapping round sans (simplified Chinese: 叠圆体; traditional Chinese: 疊圓體; pinyin: diéyuántǐ) - This is similar to the round sans, but in places where strokes overlap, a margin is inserted between the strokes to distinguish the strokes.

The name “Gothic”[edit]

In English, Gothic is an outmoded typographic term for sans-serif. It was so named because the type color of early sans serif typefaces was thought to be similar to that of the blackletter or “gothic” script.

This use of the term “gothic” is now rare in English, having been largely replaced by "sans-serif" except in the names of some typefaces such as "Century Gothic". However, it is still the standard term in Japan for typefaces lacking the equivalent of serifs. These additions, seen in Minchō typefaces, are called uroko (fish scales) in Japanese.

In Korean, godik ("gothic") was used to describe sans-serif-like typefaces until recently. Following a Ministry of Culture-sponsored standardization of typographic terms in 1993, the Korean word dodum ("mount", "stand out") was introduced to replace godik and is now the more popular term. (Although Windows Vista now ships with Malgun Gothic font which replaces Dotum and Gulim fonts.)

In Chinese, gothic typefaces are called “hēi” (黑/黒, "black"). However, since the adjective "black" in English describes a typeface with heavy font weight, heavy serif typefaces are also called "hēi" in Chinese, which causes confusion. Coincidentally, SimHei has heavier font weight than MS Gothic, Dotum, Gulim; while Microsoft YaHei is heavier than Microsoft JhengHei and Meiryo, which also serve to perpetuate the misconception. In professional use, bold font is called 'thick' typeface (Chinese: ; pinyin: ).

Sans-serif typefaces in computing[edit]

In Japanese computing, the use of sans-serif typefaces is common, with a number of default system fonts being sans-serif. Also, many Korean computing environments use Gulim which includes soft curves but is a sans-serif typeface.

In Chinese versions of Microsoft Windows XP and older, the default interface typefaces are seriffed (MingLiU and SimSun), which is inconsistent with the sans-serif styling use in most other (including East Asian) regions of the product. Starting in Windows Vista, the default interface typefaces in all regions were changed to sans-serif styles, using Microsoft JhengHei in Traditional Chinese environments and Microsoft YaHei in Simplified Chinese environments.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]