The internet faces a problem that is seemingly minor but could affect the accessibility of content for many users. There is a high increase of content written in foreign scripts, which creates issues for computers that do not have the matching typographic language settings, resulting in little blank rectangle boxes called “not defined”, or in IT terms, “tofu” (because the white rectangular shapes resemble blocks of tofu). 

Photography by Oxy Notes

Partnering up with Monotype, Google created this typeface that “aims to support all languages with a harmonious look and feel”. Noto is “freely available to all” (Google, 2017) as it is Google’s goal to create a globalized digital web environment, in which users can read content in any language. One main goal is preserving archaic, less common typefaces to protect the content that it describes, and ensures cultural growth through allowing digital profiles to be made.

Photography by Wired

What does it really mean to have this font, aside from the fact that it removes tofu? Well, it makes sure that anyone can publish content to a global platform. This could aid minorities of the global platform, allowing them to publish content that will be legible on all other user’s screens. Another aspect that benefits the producers of the Noto project, is that it is a great publicity campaign. Noto sends a message, that Google celebrates diversity of culture and language. Furthermore, this font will be ideal for bilingual or multilingual speakers, since they can use one typeface for viewing all scripts instead of using multiple fonts.

Photography by Techcrunch

However, there are some potential problems that could arise from this typeface as well. The harmonized aesthetic of different scripts could lead to the loss of cultural characteristics of the original languages. In an extreme scenario, if all internet users use Noto, it could lead to a homogenous typographic texture on the internet, since content publishers would want their content to be as accessible as possible. 

Photography by Slash Gear

Photography by Slash Gear

Photography by Slash Gear

Noto is small step closer to a global village, directly impacting the most important communication medium of this time period, the internet. Nevertheless, Noto is a highly impressive typeface that is finely tuned to make all scripts as legible as possible. Noto may not be the most elegant execution in regards to typographic design, but it deserves merit because of the way that it unites people of different cultures through communication. 

Written by Tiffany Ying

Edited by Sonia Wan

Google. 2017. Google Fonts. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.google.com/get/noto/. [Accessed 11 June 2017].

Wired. 2017. Meet Noto, Google’s Free Font For More Than 800 Languages. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.wired.com/2016/10/meet-noto-googles-free-font-800-languages/. [Accessed 11 June 2017].