(I already asked the question on graphicdesign but people redirected me here. I guess there are people with that kind of expertise here.)

I have a PDF book to be translated in Japanese, and what wondering which fonts to use. My main languages are French and English and I have no experience with asian fonts. I would not be able to say if a font is OK for reading a Japanese book or not.

For example, in English or French books (Latin-alphabet typography), the font types normally used are serif font (Times Roman, Caslon, Bodoni and Garamond). Other font types would not be appropriate.

Is there such thing as Serif font or Roman fonts in Japanese?

Do you have any suggestions for a common Japanese Roman font?

  • 4
    sawa put it a little harshly, but the layout for Japanese books is different than English, so you'll have to pay attention to more than just the font. For example, manga goes right-to-left top-to-bottom, which is pretty different from a Latin setup for similar materials. I would strongly suggest seeking out someone who is fluent in the language. As for your specific question about fonts, sawa's answer does list those.
    – Troyen
    Dec 20, 2011 at 20:25
  • 1
    Even though you we redirected here, this type of question is off-topic and will probably be closed. See the FAQ for more info. Sorry.
    – istrasci
    Dec 20, 2011 at 20:39
  • I think there is an intersting typography question here so I'd suggest a rewording to "Is there something analogous to 'serif vs. sans serif' in Japanese typography?"
    – DA01
    Mar 19, 2013 at 6:20
  • you might want to take a look at graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/10714/….
    – Vincent
    Mar 19, 2013 at 12:05
  • The original version of this got answered already - What font can I use for a Japanese book? - so now this has been migrated back here, it's a duplicate of that one... (hopefully we're a bit more co-ordinated now than we were in 2011...) Mar 19, 2013 at 12:57

1 Answer 1


There are counterparts to such things, but as the people on the graphicdesign website already mentioned, it will not be of any help to you to know which font to use since you do not seem to have any basic knowledge about the Japanese language. Do you know which of the long vowel characters to use in which mode of writing (vertical or horizontal)? Do you have the proper knowledge about 禁則処理? Probably not. Even if you choose the correct fonts, the product you come up with will probably be strange and full of mistakes to the level that it will look comical to a native speaker. The best idea is to let a native speaker of Japanese do all of that instead of you trying to do it.

Just for reference, the counterpart to serif is usually 明朝体 (or 教科書体 in some cases), and the counterpart to sans-serif is usually ゴシック体 or ゴチック体. If you cannot read these font names in Japanese, you should not attempt to use them.

  • What made you think that 教科書体 is a counterpart to serif font?
    – Tsuyoshi Ito
    Dec 21, 2011 at 13:38
  • @TsuyoshiIto It is used in the main text in documents. The usual choice is either 明朝体 or 教科書体. And the decoration to a stroke in serif corresponds to the はね, かえし, etc of these fonts.
    – sawa
    Dec 21, 2011 at 15:09
  • I have never seen a document whose main text is typeset in 教科書体 other than textbooks.
    – Tsuyoshi Ito
    Dec 21, 2011 at 15:19
  • @TsuyoshiIto It is not as popular as 明朝体, but I have still seen it. And if the former is replaced by the latter, it would not look so different. But I will put it in parentheses to weaken the claim.
    – sawa
    Dec 21, 2011 at 15:30
  • 1
    教科書体 usually is slanted upwards, and is as written with penbrush i.e. the stroke thickness from original brush writing is preserved, while 明朝体 only has the serifs, and the strokes are just thin lines. Formal or techical print-text will usually use 明朝体 (except for captions or titles, in ゴシック), where it's sometimes , while 教科書体 is just as its name implies. EDIT: oh, and try referring this shosha.kokugo.juen.ac.jp/oshiki/ronbun/kyokashotai99/…
    – syockit
    Dec 31, 2011 at 14:54

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.