Something funny happens when your computer or phone can’t display a font: A blank rectangular box pops up in place of the missing glyph. This little box is called .notdef, or “not defined,” in coder lingo, but everyone else just calls it tofu.
Bob Jung hates tofu. His loathing started in the 1980s while living in Tokyo, where he owned an American computer. “In those days, if you bought an American computer you didn’t get fonts in other languages,” he says. “So it was quite common to see tofu.” Now he leads Google’s Internationalization department, ensuring that the company’s products work everywhere. His team spent six years working with designers at Monotype to banish tofu from Google’s devices with a cohesive, pan-language set of fonts called Noto (short for “no more tofu”). Noto, one of the most expansive typographic families ever made, supports 800 languages, 100 scripts in up to eight different weights, innumerable special characters, and absolutely no tofu.