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
- 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,
Unknown and Missing Characters, pages 155-156.)
Overall, there are a number of advantages to using the Last
Resort font for unrepresentable characters.
- Operating systems are freed from the overhead of
providing a full Unicode font.
- Users see something more meaningful than a black box
for unrepresentable characters.
- Users familiar with the scripts being represented
with the Last Resort font will readily identify what
needs to be installed to represent the text.
- Users unfamiliar with the missing scripts are shown
easily-identified symbols rather than lengthy strings of
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
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 (
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.
For a closer look at the glyphs you may examine the two PDF
files below. They contain the current Last Resort font
glyphs as pure outlines which can be examined and printed
using OSX Preview, Adobe Acrobat Reader or Adobe
Illustrator. View either the reduced scale
5-page PDF or the one glyph per page
236-page PDF. The Last Resort glyphs were drawn by Michael
Everson of Evertype. An HTML table of glyphs is also
Apple's full Last Resort glyph table.
Links to the PDF pages and the Last Resort
glyph table on apple.com have been temporarily
disabled as of 2012-02-24 pending updates and
revision of the relevant pages on that site.
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: