Glyphs and U+200D and U+200C

From: William Overington (
Date: Sat Apr 26 2003 - 14:27:22 EDT

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    In preparing the Quest text font, which is an ordinary TrueType font which I
    am presently constructing using the Softy shareware font generation program,
    I thought that it might be helpful to implement U+200D ZERO WIDTH JOINER as
    a glyph, so that the font could be used to display text with ZWJ characters
    in it in a manner which someone viewing a display could recognize as meaning
    that a ligature is being signalled, either though it is not being rendered
    as a ligature using an advanced format font. I reasoned that this might
    make Quest text useful in recording and reviewing transcripts of old printed
    books in those situations where it is desired to record the presence or
    absence of ligature characters in the printed text yet that only basic PC
    facilities are available at the time. So I began experimenting with WordPad
    using c Alt 8205 t as a test. The 8205 being the decimal equivalent of
    hexadecimal 200D. Microsoft Calculator, in scientific view is very useful
    for converting between hexadecimal and decimal. I found that WordPad on a
    Windows 98 PC, using the Times New Roman font, produces a symbol for an Alt
    8205 code, like a Windmill. Ah, Don Quixote goes forth in search of
    ligatures for his fair lady! The Arial font produced the same Windmill.
    Yet Arial Narrow gave just a black rectangle. As both fonts with the
    Windmill are made by The Monotype Corporation plc the fact that the Windmill
    is in both fonts did not seem surprising.

    I designed my own glyph for ZWJ and implemented it into the latest version
    of the Quest text font. The glyph is four thin horizontal lines, though I
    may alter it a little so that a sequence of two or more ZWJ characters
    (which might be the result of a keying error) produces a display which is
    clear as to that being the case. I then decided to test the font,
    essentially to try to ensure that WordPad and Word would not refuse to
    display the character due to the package internally detecting the ZWJ
    character and doing something fancy. This seems fine on the Windows 98
    platform. I would welcome comments from anyone who could please try out
    other systems to determine whether a ZWJ character will display using an
    ordinary font, even if the system can handle advanced format fonts which act
    upon the ZWJ character.

    However, I then used SC UniPad to set up the sequence c ZWJ t in SC UniPad
    so that I could copy and paste the text to WordPad. This would seem to be a
    test which would add nothing new, yet I felt it desirable to double check
    that a symbol with ZWJ on it in SC UniPad could actually be copied and
    pasted into WordPad and show the four horizontal lines of the glyph in the
    Quest text font. I entered the ZWJ into SC UniPad using a CTRL Q to open a
    dialogue box and then entered 200D and pressed the Enter key on the

    At first the ZWJ did not display, yet I soon found the FMT button and
    selected Picture Glyph and got a glyph showing the letters ZWJ. I copied
    and pasted the sequence to WordPad and the four horizontal lines of the
    Quest text glyph for U+200D were displayed.

    I then went back to SC UniPad and looked at the options provided once the
    FMT button is pressed and selected Alternative Glyph, whereupon, instead of
    a glyph with the letters ZWJ being displayed, a Windmill style glyph, as
    with the fonts in WordPad, was displayed.

    So, I am wondering, is that Windmill style glyph for ZWJ a more-or-less
    standard symbol for ZWJ on some basis please?

    William Overington

    26 April 2003

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