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Computing With Accents and Foreign Scripts

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Greek

This page contains some resources that may help you in inserting Greek letters into English documents or configuring your computer to read Modern Greek and Polytonic Ancient Greek.

This Page

  1. Ancient Greek vs. Modern Greek
  2. Activate Keyboards for Typing
  3. Browser and Font Recommendations
    1. Math/Modern
    2. Ancient Greek
  4. Web Development
    1. Greek Letter Entity Codes
    2. Encoding and Lang Tags
      1. Language Codes: el (Greek), grc (Ancient Greek)
    3. HTML Editors
    4. Unicode Numeric Codes (Separate Page)
  5. Links
  6. Coptic Alphabet - New Page

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Ancient Greek vs. Modern Greek

Modern Greek has a monotonic or "one accent mark" spelling system, but Ancient Greek is spelled with multiple accent marks or in a "polytonic" accent system. Ancient Greek (or "Polytonic Greek") support is more complex because it contains more accents and characters than modern Greek does.

In terms of the support level needed:

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Activate Keyboards for Typing

Windows

If you only need to insert a few characters, then you can use the Windows Character Map.

For longer texts, you can activate the Greek keyboards as follows:

  1. Go to Start then Control Panels then Regional and Language Options. Follow the instructions for Activating the Language Bar
  2. While in the Regional and Language Options control panel, click on the Languages tab, then the Details button.
  3. Click the Add button and select Greek from the Input Language dropdown menu.
  4. Place a check in the Keyboard layout/IME box and select one of the following from the dropdown menu.
    1. Polytonic =Supports polytonic Greek
    2. Other layouts are used to support Modern Greek only.

    See Detailed XP Instructions for instructions with screen capture images.

  5. Click the OK buttons until you have exited the control panels - this will save the changes in your Profile.

Additional instructions are available from Elpenor's Greek Polytonic Setup for Windows.

Macintosh (OS X )

There are several options available depending on your needs.

Greek Symbols and Modern Greek

  1. If you need to type Modern Greek or math symbols, then activate the Greek keyboard ("Symbol" in 10.1). See Macintosh Keyboard Activation instructions for details on how to use it.
    Note: This keybooard only works in Unicode aware applications such as Microsoft Office 2004, Dreamweaver MX, Text Edit (free with OS X ), Netscape 7 Composer /Mozilla Composer
    and others.
  2. If you only need to insert a few characters, then you can use the OS X Character Palette.

Polytonic Greek

  1. A Greek Polytonic keyboard is available from Apple for recent versions of OS X (since 104 Tiger). See Macintosh Keyboard Activation instructions for details on how to activate and use it.

Student Computing Labs - Both the Greek and Greek Polytonic keyboards are availabe. You can select them through the flag icon on the upper right.

To Use Keyboards

  1. Go to the Apple menu and open Systems Preferences.
  2. Click the International icon on the first row of the Systems Preferences panel.
  3. Click the Input Menu or the Keyboard Menu (OS X 10.2) tab and check the keyboards you want activated.
  4. Open a software application such as a word processor, spread-sheet or any other application in which you need to enter text.
  5. On the upper right portion of the screen, click on the American flag icon (U.S. Flag Icon). Use the dropdown menu to select a script or language.
  6. The keyboard will be switched and an appropriate font will be selected within the application. A flag icon corresponding to the keyboard will be displayed on the upper right.
  7. To switch back to the U.S. keyboard or to some other keyboard, click on the flag icon on the upper right and select a keyboard from the dropdown menu.

See the Macintosh Keyboard Activation for complete instructions with screen captures.

System 9

There is no Language Kit or specially encoded font for Greek, but third party software is available.  See the Links section below. For print work, you can use Symbol or any number of  available Greek fonts available on the Internet.

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Browsers and Fonts for Modern Greek/Math

Modern Greek Fonts

Avoiding the Symbol Font: Although this used to be a print Greek font available on most machines, there are now several versions in use, with newer Unicode compliant versions and older non-encoded versions. Avoid specifying this font.

Recommended Browsers

All modern browsers support this script. Click link in list to view configuration instructions. In some cases, you will be asked to match a script with a font.

Greek Test Web Sites

If you have your browser configured correctly, the Web sites above should display Greek characters.

Herodotus, The Histories on Perseus (Tufts)

Manually Switch Encoding

If you see Roman character gibberish instead of Greek, you will need to manually switch from Western encoding view to the Greek encoding under the View menu of your browser.

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Browsers and Fonts for Ancient Greek

Users must install specialized Unicode fonts in order to read Polytonic Ancient Greek text.

Ancient Greek Fonts

Third Party Freeware Serif Fonts

See also

Recommended Browsers

Browsers which fully support Unicode are strongly recommended. Click link in list to view configuration instructions. You will be asked to match a script with a font.

Greek Test Web Sites

If you have your browser configured correctly, the Web sites above should display Greek characters.

Ancient Greek (Unicode) - www.stoa.org/unicode (Scroll down to "Alcestis" passage)

Manually Switch Encoding

If you see Roman character gibberish instead of Ancient Greek you will need to manually switch from Western encoding view to the Unicode encoding under the View menu of your browser.

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Web Development

Greek Letter Entity Codes

There are special character entities for Greek letters; however, these are so new that they are implemented in only the most recent browsers such as Internet Explorer 5/6, Mozilla, Safari and Opera. They do not work in Netscape 4.7. You can look at

α (lowercase alpha) - α
Α (uppercase alpha) - Α
β(lowercase beta) - β
Β (uppercase beta) - Β
and so forth...

See Ian Graham's Mathematical Symbols for HTML or Web Develepor's Virtual Reference HTML Special Characters and Browser Compatibility for more details and a complete list, including math symbols.

These codes should be used for individual letters or an isolated word - not for extensive passages or all-Greek pages.

Greek Encoding and Language Codes

These are the codes which allow browsers and screen readers to process data as the appropriate language. All letters in codes are lower case.If you are designing a new page, Unicode encoding is recommended since it supports the most characters.

Using Encoding and Language Codes

Computers process text by assuming a certain encoding or a system of matching electronic data with visual text characters. Whenever you develop a Web site you need to make sure the proper encoding is specified in the header tags; otherwise the browser may default to U.S. settings and not display the text properly.

To declare an encoding, insert or inspect the following meta-tag at the top of your HTML file, then replace "???" with one of the encoding codes listed above. If you are not sure, use utf-8 as the encoding.

Generic Encoding Template

<head>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=??? ">
...
<head>

Declare Unicode

<head>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8 ">
...
<head>

XHTML

The final close slash must be included after the final quote mark in the encoding header tag if you are using XHTML

Declare Unicode in XHTML

<head>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8" />
...
<head>

No Encoding Declared

If no encoding is declared, then the browser uses the default setting, which in the U.S. is typically Latin-1. In that case many Unicode characters could be displayed incorrectly. Also, older browsers such as Netscape 4.7 may not be able to process the entity codes correctly without the "utf-8" declaration.

Language Tags

Language tags are also suggested so that search engines and screen readers parse the language of a page. These are metadata tags which indicate the language of a page, not devices to trigger translation. Visit the Language Tag page to view information on where to insert it.

Inputting and Editing Text in an HTML Editor

One option is to use Dreamweaver, Microsoft Expression or other Web editor and change the keyboard to the correct script. This will allow you to type content in directly with the appropriate script. However, it is important to verify that the correct encoding is specified in the Web page header.

Another option is to compose the basic text in an international or foreign language text editor or word processor and export the content as an HTML or text file with the appropriate encoding. This file could be opened in another HTML editor such as Dreamweaver or Microsoft Expression, and edited for formatting.

Other Web Tools

For Web tools such as Blogs at Penn State, Facebook, Twitter, del.icio.us, Flicker, and others, users can typically change the keyboard and input text. In most cases, this content will be encoded as Unicode.

Using Unicode Escape Characters

If you wish to input a word or short phrase, you can use Unicode entity codes. See the Unicode Greek Block Codes page for details.

PDF and Image Files

In some cases, your best options may be to use PDF files or image files. See the Web Development Tips section for more details.

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Links

Greek Script in General

Windows

Macintosh & Linux

Third Party Fonts

Web Development Tips

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Last Modified: Tuesday, 04-Jun-2013 12:39:55 EDT