The Cardo Font




4/20/11†††††† Cardo 1.04, a major update, is now out.It includes:

ß  All medieval charcters found in the MUFI Recommendation 3.0.

ß  Many new characters for Roman epigraphy, including glyph variants accessible through OpenType features as well as the private use codepoints.

ß  Retrograde glyphs for the Old Italic characters.

ß  A completely rewritten manual and a revised InDesign test document.

ß  The first Cardo bold ever; limited character set but functional for many things such as headings.

†††††††††††††††††††† If you havenít already done so, please check out my recent book Document Preparation for Classical Languages.The PDF and paperback versions are not expensive and you might learn something useful about fonts and how to use them!Information about the book is here.You can download Cardo 1.04 as a zip file from this link.The InDesign test file is available separately here.Enjoy!

†††††††††††††††††††† A couple of issues with the Hebrew characters have been brought to my attention by users (thank you!); they will be fixed in the next version.The Cardo 1.04 zip includes only .ttf versions, not .otf.In the future I may be able to provide .otf versions also.

4/16/11††††††† Be careful of unauthorized versions of Cardo.I have learned that there are several font sites offering Cardo for download in versions not created or approved by me (in violation of the terms of the Open Font License).These versions offer a very reduced character set, including only the Basic Latin and Latin-1 Supplement ranges of Unicode, with no OpenType features.While I am not aware of anything harmful about these versions, they may confuse some people who have heard that Cardo contains a large glyph complement that is useful for scholars and/or supports high quality typography via OpenType.If these aspects of Cardo are important to you, be sure to get Cardo only from my site and pass this information along to your colleagues.

Text Box: abc2/25/11††††††† The first version of an italic font to accompany Cardo roman is now available.It contains a very large number of Latin characters (only a small percentage of the medievalist characters from the MUFI recommendation are not yet done) plus the usual punctuation and numbers.Greek and the remaining Latin characters will follow as soon as I can.It also contains the following OpenType features: old style numerals, proportional numerals, standard ligatures, discretionary ligatures, historical forms, and historical ligatures.

†††††††††††††††††††† I have tested this font on my system, but one never knows what will show up after a font makes its way out into the world.So it might be best to regard this as an advanced beta version.If something doesnít work right for you, or if you see things that donít look good, please let me know.As with recent versions of Cardo roman, the italic is released under the Open Font License.

†††††††††††††††††††† You can download Cardo italic from this link.

†††††††††††††††††††† This zip file contains two versions of Cardo italic.Both are OpenType fonts; one has TrueType outlines (.ttf) and the other PostScript outlines (.otf).Characters and OpenType features (ligatures, etc.) are the same in both.On my Windows system the OTF has a better on-screen appearance, but this may vary depending on your monitor and graphics card.Don't install both at once!In the future I may distribute Cardo only as .otf font files, but I am interested in hearing if people need or prefer the .ttf format.

†††††††††††††††††††† Future plans: after a long hiatus away from font development due to book writing projects, I have returned to devoting serious time to Cardo.Once this italic font is out, I will finish a revision of the roman font, bringing it up to date with Unicode 6.0 and version 3.0 of the MUFI recommendation.Look for this in March.During the summer will come either an expanded italic with Greek and the remaining Latin characters, or the first release of Cardo bold; or, dīs maximē faventibus, both.

5/25/10       version .99 of Cardo is posted.  This is mainly an update for the license information, as explained on the main page of this site, although a couple of small items are also fixed.  The manual is still at version .98; ignore the license information contained in it.


Note: links to download the font are found at the bottom of this page, as is a more detailed update history.




Cardo is a large Unicode font specifically designed for the needs of classicists, Biblical scholars, medievalists, and linguists.  Since it may be used to prepare materials for publication, it also contains features that are required for high-quality typography, such as ligatures, text figures (also known as old style numerals), true small capitals and a variety of punctuation and space characters.  It may also be used to document and discuss the features of Unicode that are applicable to the these disciplines, as we work to help colleagues understand the value (and limitations) of Unicode.


Cardo is freely available (subject to the terms of use below).  I do have one request: if you find Cardo useful, or if you have suggestions for improvement, please email me and tell me about what you are doing with the font.  Knowing that people are using Cardo makes the time and effort I put into it worthwhile.



This font is my version of a typeface cut for the Renaissance printer Aldus Manutius and first used to print Pietro Bemboís book De Aetna.  This font has been revived in modern times under several names (Bembo, Aetna, Aldine 401).  I chose it mainly because it is a classic book face, suitable for scholarship, and also because it is easier to get various diacritics sized and positioned for legibility with this design than with some others.  I added a set of Greek characters designed to harmonize well on the page with the Roman letters as well as many other characters useful to scholars.  The Hebrew characters are designed to match those used in the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia as closely as possible and so have no claim to originality.




This is a large Unicode font.


For Windows, you need at least Windows 95 and a word processor that can handle Unicode-based documents: either Microsoft Word 97 or more recent, or OpenOffice 1.0 or greater.  (For more information about OpenOffice, a full-featured, open-source suite comparable to Microsoft Office, click this link; note however that Open Office does not yet handle characters in the supplementary planes.)  You will also need a way to enter the Unicode characters; either Wordís Insert/Symbol, a Unicode editor such as BabelPad (plain text only), or my own keyboard utility.  If you want to use Hebrew in true right-to-left fashion, you must have Word 2000 or XP running under Windows 2000 or XP, or OpenOffice 3.2 or more recent.


On the Mac, you need OS X plus a Unicode-aware editor or keyboard utility.  Mac Word 2004 and 2008 handle Unicode well; Word 2001 and Office X do not.  OpenOffice for OS X works well with Unicode, although it does not yet have the standard Mac interface; you need to use the X11 windowing system.  Mellel, a word processor for OS 10.2 or later, is very affordable and handles Unicode and RTL text nicely; it is also the first Mac word processor to support OpenType features.  Recent versions of Nisus Writer are Unicode-based.  You can also use Appleís TextEdit (installed as part of a default OS X installation).  If you are using an editor or word processor that is designed for Unicode, you can use the Unicode Hex entry method or the Extended Roman keyboard.


For Unix/Linux systems: As far as I know, Cardo works on any Linux system that supports Windows-style TrueType or OpenType fonts.


If you are not clear about what all this means, see my book about word processing issues for scholars, which provides a good introduction to Unicode and other font issues.





See the Cardo userís manual for complete information about what Cardo provides.The list has grown too long to keep updating here!




Characters planned for future releases of Cardo include the following:




Cardo is still a work in progress.  The character design and repertoire are not final.  Please send me any comments that you have so that I can improve future versions.  Also, I have not yet done hand hinting of the characters.  This means that on most systems the characters will print better than they will look on the screen.  On screen at text sizes some stems will look uneven and so forth.  A future release will have better hinting.


Word 2000 running under Win2000 does not like the Hebrew characters in Cardo .56.  If you try to use them it substitutes Times New Roman.  I donít know why; they work fine in WordPad under Win2000 as well as in Word XP with either WordPad or Word 2002 (aka Word XP). 




Cardo has now been released under the SIL Open Font License, version 1.1.  The text of the license appears below; click the graphic at the left for additional information about this license.


Copyright (c) 2004Ė2011, David J. Perry, with Reserved Font Name Cardo.

This Font Software is licensed under the SIL Open Font License, Version 1.1.

This license is copied below, and is also available with a FAQ at:



SIL OPEN FONT LICENSE Version 1.1 - 26 February 2007




The goals of the Open Font License (OFL) are to stimulate worldwide development of collaborative font projects, to support the font creation efforts of academic and linguistic communities, and to provide a free and open framework in which fonts may be shared and improved in partnership with others.


The OFL allows the licensed fonts to be used, studied, modified and redistributed freely as long as they are not sold by themselves. The fonts, including any derivative works, can be bundled, embedded, redistributed and/or sold with any software provided that any reserved names are not used by derivative works. The fonts and derivatives, however, cannot be released under any other type of license. The requirement for fonts to remain under this license does not apply to any document created using the fonts or their derivatives.



"Font Software" refers to the set of files released by the Copyright Holder(s) under this license and clearly marked as such. This may include source files, build scripts and documentation.


"Reserved Font Name" refers to any names specified as such after the copyright statement(s).


"Original Version" refers to the collection of Font Software components as distributed by the Copyright Holder(s).


"Modified Version" refers to any derivative made by adding to, deleting, or substituting -- in part or in whole -- any of the components of the Original Version, by changing formats or by porting the Font Software to a new environment.


"Author" refers to any designer, engineer, programmer, technical writer or other person who contributed to the Font Software.



Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of the Font Software, to use, study, copy, merge, embed, modify, redistribute, and sell modified and unmodified copies of the Font Software, subject to the following conditions:


1) Neither the Font Software nor any of its individual components, in Original or Modified Versions, may be sold by itself.


2) Original or Modified Versions of the Font Software may be bundled, redistributed and/or sold with any software, provided that each copy contains the above copyright notice and this license. These can be included either as stand-alone text files, human-readable headers or in the appropriate machine-readable metadata fields within text or binary files as long as those fields can be easily viewed by the user.


3) No Modified Version of the Font Software may use the Reserved Font Name(s) unless explicit written permission is granted by the corresponding Copyright Holder. This restriction only applies to the primary font name as presented to the users.


4) The name(s) of the Copyright Holder(s) or the Author(s) of the Font Software shall not be used to promote, endorse or advertise any Modified Version, except to acknowledge the contribution(s) of the Copyright Holder(s) and the Author(s) or with their explicit written permission.


5) The Font Software, modified or unmodified, in part or in whole, must be distributed entirely under this license, and must not be distributed under any other license. The requirement for fonts to remain under this license does not apply to any document created using the Font Software.



This license becomes null and void if any of the above conditions are not met.







The file contains the Windows/OS X TrueType fonts plus the userís manual in PDF format.  On my Windows system, the manual looks much better with Adobe Reader 6 (fonts are noticeably smoother), although it is entirely legible under Reader 5.  Go to this page to update your version of Adobe Reader.  For those who may want them for some reason, I have left the earlier versions here:,, and .


For those who want to test the OpenType features such as stylistic alternates, there are two test documents available to download: an Adobe InDesign file (zipped) and a Mellel file (binhex).  The InDesign file requires InDesign 2.0 or later.  (It does not work with the Middle Eastern Mac InDesign.)  For Mellel, you need 1.8.1 or more recent.The InDesign file has been updated for 1.04; I will do the Mellel file as soon as I can.


Downloading and installing the font indicates your acceptance of the terms of use, which are given above as well as in the userís manual.  Right-click on a blue link in the previous paragraphs and save the zip file to your computer.  Open it with any of the usual unzip utilities and install the font as you would any TrueType font.  See the userís manual if you arenít sure how to install fonts. 




4/20/11††††††††† version 1.04 posted (significantly updated roman, first boldface, and same italic as released in February, plus revised manual)

2/25/11†††††††††† first Cardo italic font posted

5/25/10          version .99 of Cardo posted; no new characters, but released now under the Open Font License

11/06/04        version .98 of Cardo posted; see above for list of new features.

4/5/03           Mac OS 8/9 version no longer available

11/18/02        an Adobe Acrobat (PDF) version of the Cardo manual is now available.  This will be particularly useful for Mac and Linux users, or Windows users who donít have Microsoft Word.

8/27/02         version .71 of Cardo posted.  This adds the complete block of Unicode combining marks  to the Windows/OS X version (only selected marks were found in previous versions).  Cardo now includes OpenType support for Hebrew.

8/23/02         Mac OS 8/9 version of Cardo posted

8/20/02:        version .70 posted.  This is a minor upgrade that adds a few Unicode space and formatting characters and fixes one bug in the Hebrew OT tables.

8/13/02:        version .59 which fixed a bug in v. 58  and which may provide better-looking outlines on some systems.  In terms of characters and features, this is the same as version .58.

7/28/02:        an italic version of Cardo is in the works!  Several users have asked for this. It will make Cardo much more useful for academics, who require italic for book titles and so forth.

7/28/02:        first version (.58) with OpenType support for Hebrew and OpenType tables for advanced Latin typography

4/26/02:        first version of Cardo (.56) that includes Hebrew characters posted



Last updated April 20, 2011


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