November — a comprehensive type system for South Asia

november south asia blog

November Type System is an extremely versatile and highly accessible collection of fonts, extensively researched to meet the needs of readers of hundreds of languages of South Asia, or about one-fourth of the world's population.

  • 14 scriptsSupporting hundreds of languages used by about 2 billion people.
  • 882 fontsEach language version comes in three variants, nine weights and three widths.
  • 400k glyphsThe entire project contains 432,648 glyphs.
  • 43 peopleDesigners, experts, language consultants, and reviewers.

November Type System

November is a type system consisting of three font families—a sans, a rounded typeface and a stencil variant—each in nine weights with the first two font packages coming in three various widths. Rooted in the tradition of industrial standards but exceeding the typical use case, November offers an unprecedented number of styles, providing superior legibility and handling modes of communication, from signage to long text, with ease. November is designed for versatility and accessibility, not limited for the readers of the Latin script. We are now delighted to present fonts to support Bangla-Assamese, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Kannada, Malayalam, Meetei Mayek, Odia, Ol Chiki, Sinhala, and Telugu. This is next to the Arabic, Devanagari, Latin and Tamil version, which was launched earlier. Read more about the process of designing November type system.

TDC Award 2023

Understanding Readers preferences

Designing fonts for so many languages is an extremely complex and ambitious task, requiring not only tens of thousands of hours of design development, but also research into every character forms’ recognisability, readers’ preferences, and context for use. The same writing script can feature different shapes of glyphs based on various traditions. For example, a Devanagari font requires different graphic variants of many characters and numerals to accommodate demographic and regional nuances. We've interviewed hundreds of people gathering data and created specific versions of fonts informed by local readers’ needs. Read more about the research for the localised forms for Hindi, Marathi, or Nepali languages.

In 2022, the Government of Kerala acknowledged advancements in technology and issued an order to reform Malayalam script, reversing many of the changes proposed in the previous 1971 reform, bringing the official orthography closer to traditional-style Malayalam, while retaining elements of the reformed orthography. November Malayalam is the first typeface that comes with both traditional and reformed orthography with multiple widths, weights and styles. Read about the Malayalam orthography changes in this in-depth essay.

Malayalam orthography, simplified,

We also included the indigenous Meitei script (Meitei Mayek) used in Manipur state in Northeast India. UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger names Meitei language, also known as Manipuri, a vulnerable language, and Ol Chiki, the official writing system for Santali language. There are no books or websites documenting the history of the script’s printed forms, and to gather the information, we organised multiple field trips to Jharkhand and Manipur to work with the indigenous communities, teachers and script proponents to understand their concerns about the language and the script. Read more about the the research into less common writing scripts like Ol Chiki and Meitei Mayek.

Ol Chiki fonts review
Ol Chiki fonts review
Ol Chiki fonts review

It took four years, and tens of thousands of hours of work to complete this project, creating 882 fonts, involving 40 designers, experts, language consultants, and reviewers. We hope that the project will be useful to communities of all sizes across various language barriers, and can’t wait to see what people will create with these fonts.

Download the short PDF overview, or a long 289 pages detailed PDF presentation.

November South Asia was awarded the 2023 Type Directors Club Certicate of Excellence. Explore November, October and November Stencil.