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Reference Glyphs for Chinese Computer Systems in Hong Kong

Chinese characters have a long history of development and are widely used around the world today. One of the characteristics of this diverse set of sophisticated writing symbols is that a character may have multiple glyphs and can be very different in form or shape even when written in the same style. Computer software developers may choose different glyphs when developing their own Chinese font products.

In the 1990s, Chinese computer systems began to grow in popularity. As Hong Kong and Taiwan used similar Chinese writing systems, the Chinese computer platforms of Taiwan and the Big-5 coding standard developed by its computer industry were widely adopted in Hong Kong. Font products compliant with the Big-5 also became prevalent in Hong Kong. However, Hong Kong’s writing convention is in some ways different from that of the Big-5.

In 2002, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), in collaboration with the Chinese Language Interface Advisory Committee (CLIAC), developed a set of two guidelines, namely the Reference Guide on Kai Style Character Glyphs for Chinese Computer Systems in Hong Kong and the Reference Guide on Song Style (Print Style) Character Glyphs for Chinese Computer Systems in Hong Kong. The two guidelines serve as a source of reference for the industry to promote the development of font products which can reflect the actual shape of glyphs commonly used in Hong Kong.

In 2016, the HKSAR Government again collaborated with CLIAC and developed the Reference Glyphs for Chinese Computer Systems in Hong Kong (the Reference Glyphs). By taking a character-based approach, the Reference Glyphs is designed to provide a complete set of Chinese glyphs which covers all the characters in the Hong Kong Supplementary Character Set–2016 and Big-5 characters, supplementing the above-mentioned component-based guidelines.

Through comparing the differences between the glyphs commonly used in Hong Kong and those specified in the Big-5, the Reference Glyphs gives specific description of the glyphs used in Hong Kong, hence clearly presenting the glyph of each character in the H-column of the ISO/IEC 10646 international coding standard. It provides an easy reference for glyph comparison, facilitating the development and wider adoption of Chinese font products, which will allow the public to employ glyphs commonly used in Hong Kong in handling computer information in Chinese.

Full document here (Chinese Version Only; zip file format, 75MB. Please note that it is not the intention of the document to set standards for characters commonly used in Hong Kong, or to impose any restrictions on the styles adopted by font developers.)

List of Contents of the Reference Glyphs for Chinese Computer Systems in Hong Kong

  1. Theme
  2. General Principles
  3. Scope
  4. References
  5. Terminology
  6. Principles adopted in comparing the glyphs of Hong Kong characters with those of Big-5 and Taiwan Song characters
  7. Minor differences in style (not considered as differences in glyph)
  8. Glyph differences between Hong Kong, Big-5 and Taiwan Song characters
  9. Handling of inconsistencies and mistakes in Big-5 character glyphs

Appendix: Rules for Changing a Right-falling Stroke to a Dot in Glyphs for Chinese Computer Systems

Tables:

Table 1: Code Table of Hong Kong Kai Style Character Glyphs

Table 2: Code Table of Hong Kong Song Style Character Glyphs

Table 3: Differences in Component between Hong Kong Characters and Big-5 Characters

Table 4: Differences in Component between Hong Kong Characters and Taiwan Song Characters

Table 5: Differences in Glyph between Hong Kong Characters and Big-5/Taiwan Song Characters

Table 6: Big-5 Characters with Problematic Glyphs