Non-Standard Foreign Language Fonts

I’m writing a novel and need to insert some foreign language symbols into the text. It’s actually the ancient Baybayin language of the Philippines. I was able to locate a typeface that included the letters/symbols and installed it on my Mac. The problem is when I export or compile the pages, the symbols appear as the letters I used on my keyboard to generate the symbols.

The screenshot below is how it looks in Scrivener, as it should look:

It looks fine when I open up the RTF or Word document on my computer, because I have the font installed. But on a computer without the font, I get “ASN MBBINE”.

Ultimately, I will be self-publishing to Kindle, etc., but how do I ensure that the symbols come out the way I want them to?

In graphic design, I know that fonts can be “outlined” so that computers that don’t have the particular font installed can still read the layout. Is there something analogous here I should do?

Indeed, should I treat the symbols as a piece of art and insert it in the text and, if so, how do I go about doing that?

Thank you in advance!

  • Bob Harrison

Okay, I’ve played around with this a bit and have hopefully hit on the solution. In Adobe Illustrator, I converted the line of symbols to a PNG, then embedded the PNG inline where I wanted it.

Now when I export/compile as an RTF file I cannot see the symbols (naturally), but I can see them fine as a Word file. Will they show up as expected in other formats such as MOBI, EPUB, etc.?

As I mentioned in the first post, I plan on self-publishing. Do any of the platforms require an RTF file (where the symbols will not be visible)?

Thank you!

  • Bob Harrison

Using a graphic to display highly unusual characters like this is definitely going to be your best bet if you intend to distribute via e-publishing. As you note, once you change the font you just see the letters you used to key in the symbols in this font (much like switching Wingdings). Considering that most e-readers only supply a few fonts, and that the reader ultimate has the choice of which will be used to display your text, graphics are really your only viable solution. Even if these characters were within the UTF-8 character set, in my experience it is risky to rely on UTF-8 with Kindles and such. They struggle outside of the most common character sets.

As for self-publishing and RTF, no I’m not aware of any self-publication that uses RTF as a distribution format. PDF is the most common format.

Thanks so much for your reply, Amber - much appreciated! :smiley: