Teaching and Learning with Technology

Computing With Accents and Foreign Scripts

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This page focuses on utilities for Russian. See the Cyrillic page for information on other Eastern European and Central Asian languages written in the Cyrillic script.

This Page

  1. Activating Keyboards for Typing
  2. Where to Get Transliterated Keyboards
  3. Browser and Font Recommendations
  4. Web Development
    1. Language Code: ru
  5. Cyrillic Alphabet Unicode Chart (New Page)
  6. Links

Activating Keyboards typing

The CLC Student Computing Labs at University Park gives you a choice between the traditional Russian keyboard layout and the transliterated layout. In the transliterated layout, the keys are mapped to match English and Russian letters. For instance Latin "S" would be Cyrillic "C", Latin "R" would be Cyrillic "Ρ" Latin "P" would be Cyrillic "Π", and so forth. Below are instructions for how to activate either keyboard on either Windows XP or Macintosh OS X .

Windows XP

  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 Russian 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. Russian ASDF = Transliterated Keyboard
    2. Russian or Russian Typewriter are traditional layout keyboards.

    See Detailed XP Instructions for more detailed instructions with screen capture images.

  5. If you had already installed the Russian keyboard, but want to only use the Russian ASDF transliterated keyboard, then delete the one you will not be using.
  6. Click the OK buttons until you have exited the control panels - this will save the changes in your Profile.
  7. To use the Russian keyboard, open any Windows application and switch the language bar from EN (English) to RU (Russian).

Macintosh (System 9 & OS X)

Apple supplies the following keyboards. See instructions below for details on how to use them.

Student Computing Labs - Many language keyboards have been activated in the labs and are available through the flag menu on the upper right. Skip to Step #4 in the instructions below.

Home Computers - A variety of keyboards are available from Apple, but you may have to install it from the Macintosh System disk then they can be activated through the International System Preferences. See details below.

To Use Keyboards

  1. Go to the Apple menu and open Systems Preferences.
  2. Click the U.N. flag icon on the first row of the Systems Preferences panel which is either the Language & Text settings (System 10.6/Snow Leopard) or the International settings (System 10.2-10.5).
  3. Click the tab for Input Sources (System 10.6/Snow Leopard), Input Menu (OS X 10.5-3) or the Keyboard Menu (OS X 10.2) tab and check the keyboards you wish to be activated.
  4. Close the System Preferences window.
  5. Open a software application such as a word processor, spread-sheet or any other application in which you need to enter text.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

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Where to Download Additional Transliterated Keyboards

These are links on where to download Russian keyboard utilities for your own computer.

Student Computing Labs -The third party transliterated/phonetic/QWERTY keyboards described below are also available in the Student Computing labs


Russian ASDF Keyboard - freeware phonetic keyboard has been installed in CLC Student Computing Labs as of January 2004. View the Detailed Activation Instructions above for information on how to activate and use this keyboard in the labs.

Cyrillic.Com for Windows - Reasonably priced and relatively easy to install. This vendor sells other Cyrillic fonts and utilities. Follow installation instructions given at the Web site.

The Russian Keyboard layout comes free with Microsoft XP . Follow the activation instructions above to activate.

Macintosh OS X

Northwestern Translit Keyboard for Mac OS X - Freeware keyboard for OS X . Does not support Unicode yet, but supports older Cyrillic encoding. Follow the installation instructions given at the Web site. Once installed, you would select the •Translit Russian flag icon from the Mac OS X keyboard.
Note: This was installed in the CLC Student Computing labs as of Fall 2003.

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Browser and Font Recommendations

Test Sites

If you have your browser configured correctly, the Web sites above should display the correct characters. If you have difficulties, see list below for font and browser configuration instructions.

www.slamdunk.ru (Basketball)

Browser and Font Setup

Please note which fonts are needed for each platform before viewing instructions to configure your browsers in the Preferences or Tools menu. Most browsers are recommended, but older browsers like Netscape 4.7 may need more adjustments.

Fonts by Platform

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.

Manually Switch Encoding

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

Override Font

Some Web sites specify a font which may not be available on your machine.
NOTE: This problem is especially prevalent for users of Netscape 4.7 for Macintosh.

To view the Web site, you need to override the font of the Web page. Click on the appropriate browser to see instructions in a new window. Once the font is overridden, the Russian characters should be displayed.

Netscape - Override Font Instructions
Internet Explorer (Windows) - Override Font Instructions
Internet Explorer (Macintosh) - Override Font Instructions

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Web Development

Russian Encoding and Language Tags

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 developing a new Web page, Unicode is recommended since the page can also support characters from Western European and Cyrillic languages.

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

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

Declare Unicode

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


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

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

No Encoding Declared

If no encoding is declared, then the browser uses the default setting, which in the U.S. is typically Latin-1. Some display errors may occur.

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 Cyrillic Unicode Block Codes page for details.


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General Russian Cyrillic

University of Arizona Slavic Information Literacy Font Tools - Includes PDAs




Third Party Fonts

These fonts include many supplementary Cyrillic characters

Web Development Tips

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Last Modified: Tuesday, 04-Jun-2013 12:40:04 EDT