Charis SIL Literacy font

Can anyone tell me anything about the font Charis SIL Literacy? Some years ago a colleague wanted me to install it so that I could access some of his work, but my Mac balked, telling me there were “serious errors” in the fonts and “do not install”, so I didn’t. However, it seems that some people are creating materials with it and sending them to my wife, a literacy consultant. I never installed Charis Literacy on her Mac for the same reason, and she has always been recommending the Andika fonts, but now finds that she is being given materials using Charis Literacy.

My questions are:

  • does anyone know why the Mac warns against Charis SIL Literacy (a 2006 version)?

  • is Charis SIL Literacy being used elsewhere? My wife has always preferred (and recommended) the Andika fonts, which we thought were the standard.

  • is it OK with Windows (which most people are using it with) even if not with Mac OS? I don’t remember if I ever tried to install it on Windows


Willie Kinnaird

Not an expert on either the font or the history. The release ( page, however, says that “the Literacy fonts are identical to the main Charis SIL fonts, except that the default forms for ‘a’ and ‘g’ have been changed to those often preferred by literacy specialists – single-story ‘a’ and single-bowl ‘g’.” Your particular error message may (or may not) have been the result of “OpenType and Graphite features may not work as expected, and particularly those that interact with the Literacy Alternates feature.”

The question is why you are still worried about that specific version after 12 years?

There have been numerous 4.1xx releases since that time, and a major 5.000 release in 2016 (

Even if you find those small number of literacy features absolutely necessary, I must still inquire why not try the 5.000 version of the Charis SIL literacy package ( ?

As a general response to your questions, it is my impression that Charis SIL is preferred for phonetic and phonological purposes these days. I used Doulos for awhile but ultimately switched to Charis because of this reason. Not sure about Andika, Gentium, etc. compared to it…someone else may know. Your question about the literacy package version of Charis SIL is the first time that I have even heard of the literacy package…so it seems that it is not widely used?

As for the regular Charis SIL, I’ve been using it on Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10 (versions 4.1xx and 5.000) since 2012 or 2013 without any issues. A fellow student of mine has been using Charis for approximately the same period - but at least since the 5.000 release. I’m not certain of his exact MacOS version, however.

It seems to me you should forget about the previous problem(s) and just try the current version. If you find you still have problems with the installation, then come back here and post the specific error message. The font experts will likely have more ability to help you troubleshoot then.

Hi WIllie -

Sorry for the delayed reply. I’ve been off at a conference and others on our team have been ill.

Chris is correct - you probably want to use the latest version of the fonts (5), available at the bottom of this page:

The Mac OS sometimes reports that these fonts have problems, but they do work properly and are safe to install on Mac OS, Windows, and Linux.

There is no standard for literacy fonts, although Andika is the most popular and gets the most recommendations. Some literacy folks prefer Gentium or Charis. All can be useful, and the best font to use depends a lot on the particular purpose and situation.

Hope that helps,


Hi Chris,

Thanks for the explanations, and for the link to the current version of Charis Literacy. I had looked on under fonts but didn’t find it there. I was looking on behalf of my wife, as I’m not in literacy myself. SIL Cameroon has standardised on Andika, but some folks hadn’t been informed and somehow used Charis. They have sorted things out now and will all be using the Andika fonts from now on.



Hm. It would be helpful for us to understand what you tried and why you weren’t able to find the information you were looking for on – maybe we can improve it for the next person…

Hi Bob. I selected Resources\Software & Fonts. This only shows Andika, but on the right I found Other Fonts. This lists Charis SIL but not Charis Literacy. I did a website search, which gave only one result which brought me back to the same list with Charis SIL but no Charis Literacy. Willie

Thanks. The confusion is that Charis Literacy is part of the larger Charis SIL family. We don’t list every variant of every font, and we also don’t have a comprehensive search database on the site that lists every font. We have been looking at ways we can make the Products page easier to use, including highlighting products by domain (literacy, analysis, publishing, etc.) but have limited staff resources.