The two names of the type style correspond to the two dynasties in Chinese history, the Song Dynasty during which it was created and the Ming Dynasty, during which the style flourished. In Mainland China, the most common name is "Song typefaces." In Hong Kong, Japan and Korea, "Ming typefaces" is prevalent. In Taiwan, both names are used.
* Japanese: Kanji: ; : Minchōtai
* Korean: Hangul: ; Hanja: ; : Myeongjoche
This typeface is characterised, among other things, by the following:
* Thick vertical strokes contrasted with thin horizontal strokes
* Triangular ornaments at the end of single horizontal strokes called ''uroko'' in Japanese
* Overall geometrical regularity
These characteristics are visible in the example above.
Possessing variable line weight and characteristic decorations at the end of lines similar to serifs, this type style is comparable to Western serif typefaces, as opposed to the which are comparable to sans-serif.
Often there are number of different ways to write the same Chinese character, they are collectively referred to as variant Chinese characters. Some of those differences are caused by character simplification or word choices, while others are purely orthographic differences such as stroke styling. The styling of the strokes used in the old Song and Ming fonts came from the style used in Kangxi dictionary. After the postwar in Japan, the most of the Kangxi style characters were considered as Kyujitai , causing newer dictionaries to incorporate two letter styles, or to simply reject the old styles. In modern China, the government uses the new orthographic style, which is incorporated into MingLiU version 5.03 or above. In Japan, dictionary entries offer both new and old fonts. In Korea, popular fonts such as Batang are based on Kangxi style.
Imitated Song typefaces combine the line weights of regular Song typeface with the stroke layout and decoration of regular script . Unlike regular Song typefaces, these are not called Ming typefaces.
There are some variations between the printed and handwritten forms of many Chinese characters, especially in the orientation of smaller strokes and the shape of certain radicals. Some of these differences are persistent and specific to printed type , but others may be no more significant than variations between individual typefaces. None of these variations usually hinder reading. However, special styles of Ming type (textbook type matching the recommended handwritten forms are used in school textbooks, in order to prevent confusion amongst learners.
The printing press appeared in China during the Song Dynasty. At the time, each print block contained two portrait-oriented pages placed side by side. The print blocks were all cut from rectangular planks such that the wood grain ran horizontally. Because the grain ran horizontally, it was fairly easy to carve patterns with the grain, like horizontal strokes. However, carving vertical or slanted patterns was difficult because those patterns intersect with the grain and very easily break. This resulted in a typeface that has thin horizontal strokes and thick vertical strokes. To prevent wear and tear, the ending of horizontal strokes are also thickened. These design forces resulted in the current Song typeface.
Song typefaces were already in full production during the Song Dynasty; however, they were not mature. More popular typefaces at the time were those that imitated Chinese calligraphy styles, such as the works of Yan Zhenqing , Liu Gongquan , and Ouyang Xun . It was not until the Ming Dynasty, as the price of wood increased, that the Song style become more popular, because it can be carved at smaller sizes than the other type styles. This style has changed so little since the Song Dynasty that people during the Ming Dynasty nicknamed it the "static type style." Also during the Ming Dynasty, this type style spread to Japan and Korea, where it became known as the Ming style.
In text, Hiragana, Katakana, and the Latin alphabet are also used. It is the most commonly used style in print. In Japan there are several variants of the Minchō style, such as the textbook style or the newspaper style.
The name ''Minchō'' means ''Ming Dynasty'', which was the era during which movable type printing flourished in China, and during which Minchō-style type was first created. The creator of modern Japanese movable-type printing, Motoki Shōzō , modeled his sets of type after those prevailing in China, having learned an electrolytic method of type manufacturing from the American William Gamble in 1869. Motoki then created, based on Gamble's frequency studies of characters in the Chinese Bible, a full set of type with added Japanese characters.
In Korean, a similar category of typeface for the Korean alphabet hangul was called ''myeongjo'' until recently, influenced by the Japanese term. A Ministry of Culture-sponsored standardization of typography terms in 1993 replaced ''myeongjo'' with ''batang'', the Korean word for "foundation" or "ground" , and this is the term now current.
Ming typefaces in computing
Strictly speaking, only Chinese characters are thus printed in Song type. However, most modern typefaces have included glyphs for characters in a matching variable-line-width style, usually in a precise style imitating handwriting with a brush. In its modern role comparable to that of western serif fonts, both kana and Roman glyphs are usually part of a complete typeface. In fact, modern digital Song fonts also incorporate serif glyphs for Latin characters, letterlike symbols, numbers.
Well-known modern-day Ming typefaces include the Morisawa foundry's "Ryūbundō Minchō" as well as Adobe's "Kozuka Mincho" family, designed by Kozuka Masahiko .
Pan-Unicode typefaces commonly seen in computing include:
* Bitstream Cyberbit.
*DLCMingMedium , DLCMingBold , DLCFongSung - Distributed with Traditional Chinese version of Windows 3.1.
*FangSong - distributed with all regions of Windows Vista.
*FangSong_GB2312 - distributed with Simplified Chinese version of Windows 2000 or later.
*'Ming Light' - Default interface font for Windows 3.0 to Windows XP, derived from DynaLab's DLCMing font family. Originally distributed as raster font in Traditional Chinese version of Windows 3.0, then it was available in TrueType format as 'MingLi43' in Traditional Chinese version of Windows 3.1. Starting from version 2.00, the font was internally sorted in Unicode sequence with Big-5 codepage, and carried the English name 'MingLiU'. In version 2.10, the font file also contained PMingLiU . MingLiU was distributed with Traditional Chinese version of Windows 95 to Windows 98, all regional versions of Windows 2000 or later, PMingLiU Update Pack , Traditional Chinese font pack for Internet Explorer 3, Microsoft Global IME 5.02 , Office XP Tool: Traditional Chinese Language Pack.
*PMingLiU - distributed by Microsoft with Traditional Chinese version of Windows 98 operating system, and all regional versions of Windows 2000 or later.
*MingLiU-ExtB , PMingLiU-ExtB - distributed with PMingLiU Update Pack , Windows Vista.
*MingLiU_HKSCS, MingLiU_HKSCS-ExtB - distributed with Windows Vista.
*MS Song - distributed with Simplified Chinese font pack for Internet Explorer 3, Microsoft Global IME 5.02 , Office XP Tool: Simplified Chinese Language Pack.
*NSimSun - distributed with all regions of Windows XP, Microsoft Office 2000.
*SimSun - Default interface font for Windows 95 to Windows XP. Distributed with Chinese versions of Windows 95 to Windows 98, all regions of Windows XP, Microsoft Office 2000.
*SimSun-18030 , NSimSun-18030 - distributed with Simplified Chinese version of Windows XP, or as GB18030 Support Package to Windows 2000 or higher.
*SimSun - distributed with Simplified Chinese version of Microsoft Office XP, Simplified Chinese version of Windows, or Microsoft Office Proofing Tools .
*SimSun-ExtB - distributed with Windows Vista.
*STSong , STFangsong - distributed with Microsoft Office 2000 and XP, Mac OS X 10.2-10.4.
*LiSong Pro Light - distributed with Mac OS 9 or X 10.3-10.4.
*Apple LiSung Light - distributed with Mac OS 9 or X 10.2-10.4.
*Song, Fang Song - distributed with Mac OS X 10.2-10.4.
*STZhongsong - distributed with Microsoft Office 2000 and XP.
*AR PL ShanHeiSun Uni - included with a number of Linux distributions. It is a merged version of 2 fonts released to free software by Arphic foundry.
*WenQuanYi Bitmap Song - A raster font under GNU GPL.
*MS Mincho - distributed with Japanese version of Windows 3.1 or later, some versions of Internet Explorer 3 Japanese font pack, all regions in Windows XP, Microsoft Office v.X to 2004.
*MS PMincho - distributed in Japanese version of Windows 95 or later, all regions in Windows XP, Microsoft Office 2004.
*Kochi Mincho — Originally named Watanabe font , it was a former font that is included with a number of Linux distributions. It is also notable for being a fixed width font . The development of the font stopped when it was discovered that Watanabe font was copied from the TypeBank Mincho-M font, developed by TypeBank and Design Laboratory, Hitachi, Ltd.
*Hiragino Minchō Pro W3 , Hiragino Minchō Pro W6 — in Mac OS X, it is possibly the only publishing-quality Minchō typeface to ship with a computer operating system. It covers almost all of the Adobe Japan 1-5 glyph collection.
* Batang , BatangChe , Gungsuh , GungsuhChe - distributed by Microsoft with its operating system.