User:SnpoSuwan/Typography basics in sitelen pona

From sona pona, the Toki Pona wiki

Under construction This user page needs work. The owner plans on making changes later:

This is an incomplete write up lacking much nuance. Feel free to leave comments on the talk page.

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Introduction to sitelen pona

sitelen pona is a logographic writing system, created by Sonja Lang and first published in her 2014 book Toki Pona: The Language of Good. It is the second-most commonly used script to write Toki Pona, followed by the Latin script. Despite its short history and lack of long writing traditions compared to other scripts, many guidelines and best practices have emerged for its typography.

With there being a current Unicode proposal for sitelen pona in Unicode, I felt like it was useful to have a dedicated way to learn about this script and its

Glyph anatomy

Most sitelen pona fonts are monospaced, in contrast to Latin fonts which are proportional by default. Glyphs are made to fit a cohesive shape, either as a square, similar to CJK glyphs, an en space, like monospaced Latin fonts, or other proportions.

Under construction This section needs work. The owner plans on making changes later:
  • Monospaced doesn't have to be a square
  • Include information for proportional
  • Characters want space to breathe
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Typographic grid

In regards to vertical metrics, sitelen pona glyphs are commonly placed in the midline as opposed to the baseline. The cartouches and extended glyphs lie beyond the topline and baseline, where I would call the "max top" and "max bottom".

Vertical positions of sitelen pona glyphs
Vertical positions of different heights


Extended glyphs

Variant glyphs

Punctuation marks

The script has very few punctuation, if at all. In The Language of Good, punctuation is not defined at all. Rather, during the existence of the script, the majority of speakers use two strategies: no punctuation or only the full stop (..) and colon (::). The latter option functions similarly to these marks work in the Latin script.

For sentence boundaries with no punctuation, the space has to be wider than the Latin word space in order to be better legible. Because of that, the ideographic space is commonly used for that purpose.

Quotation marks

The use of quotation marks vary on the writer. Some common options include no punctuation, Latin-style marks (often curved), and CJK corner marks. The last one is most commonly used. It is part of the su style, used in the 2024 book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Toki Pona edition), which lacks entirely lacks other punctuation marks.

Corner quotes are similar or identical in shape to the glyphs for te and to, quotation particles in speech. In fonts with the OpenType ligature feature, these are commonly used to access the punctuation marks.

Text formatting


In sitelen pona scripts, there are no italics. Type is rarely faux-italicized for design, however, true italics are not present at all.


In relation to readability, there is a debate in fontmaking circles whether monospaced or proportional ones are easier to read. Anecdotally, monospaced fonts are easier to read for some, while proportional ones are better for others.


As of early 2024, sitelen pona is encoded only in the Under-Conscript Unicode Registry. There is currently a Unicode proposal in the works.


  • Lang, Sonja. (2014). Toki Pona: The Language of Good.
  • Lang, Sonja. (2014). The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Toki Pona edition)
  • jan Tamalu. (2022). "Results of the 2022 Toki Pona census". Toki Pona census.