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New web fonts show maths symbols properly on any computer

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A group of scientific publishers has released a beta test version of the Scientific and Technical Information Exchange (STIX) Fonts, which should enable mathematical and scientific symbols to be rendered correctly on any computer.

This free, comprehensive set of special characters - mainly mathematical or scientific – is expected to represent a significant breakthrough in scientific, technical, and medical publishing. Following a short beta test period, the final production release of the STIX Fonts should occur before the end of 2007.

‘Given the scope of this ambitious undertaking, it's not surprising that completion of the STIX Fonts project took more than 10 years, more than one million dollars in donated staff time, and the combined efforts of a half dozen well-respected scholarly publishers,’ said Fran Zappulla, staff director, IEEE Publishing Operations. ‘The end result is a font set that is the most comprehensive of its kind, encompassing so many sub-ranges of the UnicodeT standard and enabling data to be transferred securely through many different systems without corruption.’

The six publishers that collaborated to design, fund and manage the STIX project were the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Institute of Physics (AIP), the American Mathematical Society (AMS), the American Physical Society (APS), Elsevier, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

The technical development of the STIX Fonts Project was handled by font designer MicroPress, which has created and delivered nearly 8,000 characters/glyphs required for these comprehensive fonts. Glyphs designed by Elsevier for an earlier project push the final glyph total to 8,047.

‘Aside from the fact that the STIX Fonts work with a wide variety of web browsers, word processors, and other scholarly communications software, they have the ability to support widely expanded character sets and layout features, which provide richer linguistic support and advanced typographic control. We hope that all operating system and application vendors move quickly to support the Fonts,’ said Robert Kelly, director of journal information systems for the American Physical Society.

By making the fonts freely available, the STIX project hopes to encourage the development of widespread applications that make use of these fonts.