The Medieval Unicode Font Initiative is a non-profit workgroup of scholars and font designers who would like to see a common solution to a problem felt by many medieval scholars: the encoding and display of special characters in Medieval texts written in the Latin alphabet.
MUFI was founded in July 2001 by a workgroup consisting of Odd Einar Haugen (Bergen), Alec McAllister (Leeds) and Tarrin Wills (Sydney, now Copenhagen). The members of the workgroup communicates primarily by e-mail, but have occasionally met in Leeds (July 2002 and 2003). The first MUFI group meeting was held in Bergen (30-31 August 2003), the second in Lisboa, (10-12 March 2005), the third in Bonn (12-13 June 2006), the fourth in Mainz (23 June 2008), the fifth in Bergen (7-8 April 2011), and the sixth, also in Bergen (8-9 September 2015). As of August 2006, MUFI has a board of four members (listed in the right column of this page).
Unicode is the new international font standard. In version 11.0 (published 5 June 2018), it covers more than 137,000 characters in living as well as historical scripts. It is fully supported by computer platforms like Linux, Mac and Windows. There is simply no alternative to Unicode.
Many characters needed by medieval scholars are already defined in Unicode, but a great number of other characters, and especially abbreviation marks, are missing. The Private Use Area in Unicode may be used for encoding missing characters, but we would like to see as many special characters defined in the official area as possible.
For this reason, the MUFI groups is pursuing two lines, (a) coordinating the allocation of medieval characters in the Private Use Area and (b) proposing missing medieval characters to Unicode.
MUFI character recommendation
Although the ultimate goal of the MUFI group is to add a representative and well defined inventory of medieval characters to the Unicode Standard it will be necessary to assign characters to the Private Use Area for some time. In order to establish a coordinated usage of this area, the MUFI group has published a recommendation for the selection of characters from the Unicode Standard and for characters to be assigned to the Private Use Area. This recommendation coordinates the usage of the PUA with several other fonts and font projects, notably the TITUS project and Junicode.
The first version of this recommendation was published in 2003, the second in 2006, the third in 2009, and the fourth in 2015. The fourth version contains 1512 characters (of which 782 have been selected from various charts in the official part of the Standard, and 730 are located in the Private Use Area). It is compliant with v. 8.0 of the Unicode Standard and has a persistent URI at the University Library in Bergen:
http://hdl.handle.net/1956/10699 (published 22 December 2015)
Previous versions of the MUFI character recommendation can be downloaded here:
MUFI character recommendation (all versions)
As a preparation for v. 3.0 and v. 4.0 of the recommendation, pipelines with new characters have been published:
Proposals for new MUFI characters
MUFI font page
Several MUFI compliant fonts are presently being developed. All fonts contain a wide selection of special characters and make extensive use of the Private Use Area in the Unicode Standard. Fonts will be available either as shareware (for a modest fee) or as freeware.
MUFI font page
This page contains a list of all MUFI compliant fonts with details on design, format, availability etc.
NEW! Junicode is now available in a version compliant with the MUFI character recommendation v. 4.0.
Medievist proposals to Unicode
Members of the MUFI group and other scholars have submitted several proposals to Unicode for the inclusion of new characters in the Standard:
How should code points be allocated to the Private Use Area? MUFI is a recommendation for medievalists, but there are a number of other scripts, some of them neighbouring. In a recent paper, Andreas Stötzner, suggests a way forward:
Towards a linguistic corporate area?
Link will soon be added! (8 February 2019)
Tarrin Wills, Copenhagen (Chair)
Alex Speed Kjeldsen, Copenhagen (Deputy chair)
Odd Einar Haugen, Bergen
Beeke Stegmann, Copenhagen
Odd Einar Haugen, Bergen
Andreas Stötzner, Leipzig
(Deputy Chair, since 2006)
Alec McAllister, Leeds
Tarrin Wills, Sydney/Aberdeen
Other fonts & projects
Peter S. Baker, University of Virginia
Junicode (a Unicode font)
David J. Perry, Rye High School, New York
Fonts for scholars
Cardo (a Unicode font)
Deborah W. Anderson, University of California at Berkeley / Rick McGowan, Unicode
Script Encoding Initiative (project description)
Juan-José Marcos García, Plasencia, Cáceres, Spain
Alphabetum (web site)
Jost Gippert and colleagues, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, and collaborating institutions
TITUS Cyberbit Font (Unicode 4.0 compliant)
Sebastian Kempgen, University of Bamberg
Unicode fonts for slavists
Fonts with special emphasis on the needs of medievalists and philologists in general
Andreas Stötzner, Leipzig
Typefaces for scientific texts
Fonts for scientific usage, of general interest but also applicable to medieval texts
Alan Wood's Unicode Resources
A wealth of information about Unicode on various platforms and browsers. Constantly updated and highly recommended, even if not all parts of this site has been updated. Includes e.g. list of fonts sorted by the languages that they can be used for, advice on web browsers etc.
This project headed by Johannes Bergerhausen, Mainz, will collect information about all characters in the Unicode Standard. The aim of this wikipedia-style project is to create a basis for fundamental typographic research and to facilitate a textual approach to the characters of the world for all computer users. Well worth a visit.
Medieval Nordic Text Archive
This is a digital archive with the aim of encoding Medieval Nordic texts, (in Latin as well as in the vernaculars) according to the standards developed by TEI (XML). Have a look at the catalogue of texts!
The Menota handbook discusses the practicalities of encoding manuscript texts. Now published in version 2 (16 May 2008), TEI P5 compatible.
Michael Everson, Ireland, is one of the authors and editors of the Unicode Standard, has produced several fonts and maintains a large web site on various languages. The site includes an exhaustive list of the languages, alphabets and writing systems of Europe.
Andreas Stötzner, Leipzig, is editor of the journal SIGNA, and has published (so far) 9 in-depth volumes on typographical and signographical issues. Andreas is also the designer of Andron Scriptor Web, one of the MUFI compatible fonts.