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Last Resort Font

 

The Last Resort font is a collection of glyphs to represent types of Unicode characters. These glyphs are designed to allow users to recognize that an encoded value is one of the following:

  • a specific type of Unicode character
  • in the Private Use Area (no private agreement exists)
  • unassigned (reserved for future assignment)
  • one of the illegal character codes.

These glyphs are used as the backup of "last resort" to any other font; if the font cannot represent any particular Unicode character, the appropriate "missing" glyph from the Last Resort font is used instead. This provides users with the ability to tell what sort of character it is, and gives them a clue as to what type of font they would need to display the characters correctly. (For more information, see The Unicode Standard, Version 5.0, Section 5.3 Unknown and Missing Characters.)

Overall, there are a number of advantages to using the Last Resort font for unrepresentable characters.

  1. Operating systems are freed from the overhead of providing a full Unicode font.
  2. Users see something more meaningful than a black box for unrepresentable characters.
  3. Users familiar with the scripts being represented with the Last Resort font will readily identify what needs to be installed to represent the text.
  4. Users unfamiliar with the missing scripts are shown easily-identified symbols rather than lengthy strings of unidentifiable characters.

The Last Resort font includes glyphs for scripts proposed for future encoding in Unicode and ISO/IEC 10646. There is no guarantee that all of these scripts will ever be encoded in future versions of the standard; the script names are taken from the UTC/WG2 Roadmap dated 2001-06-14.

Unicode blocks are illustrated by a representative glyph from the block, chosen to be as distinct as possible from glyphs of other blocks. A square surrounding frame provides a common, recognizable element and embedded within the edge of this frame, only visible at large size are a form of the block name and its character range to help identification.

There are two special glyphs in the font. One of the glyphs represents any unassigned character from any block. The other glyph represents the noncharacter character code values (U+FDD0..U+FDEF, U+FFFE, U+FFFF, U+1FFFE, U+1FFFF, U+2FFFE, U+2FFFF, U+EFFFE, U+EFFFF).

Example glyphs were chosen in a number of ways. Almost all of the Brahmic scripts show the initial consonant ka. Latin uses the letter A because it's the first letter, and because in each Latin block there is a letter A so they can be easily differentiated. Greek and Cyrillic use their last letters, omega and ya, because they are so distinctive. Most other alphabets and syllabaries use their initial letter where distinctive.

The Last Resort glyphs were drawn by Michael Everson of Evertype. An HTML table of glyphs is also located in Apple's full Last Resort glyph table.

End User License Agreement

Apple has made the Last Resort font available under the following end user license:

If you agree to the above license agreement, you may click on the button below to download the Last Resort font: