Frequently asked question: What's with typing Greek these days?
I've heard something about Unicode..
[This page is primarily addressed to Mac users. If a Windows fan can
supply Windows specific info, please let me know - HD]
Life is becoming a lot easier for Hellenists - once we make the
transition, that is! What's going on? Briefly: The old standard fonts
we have been working with since the 80-s or so are being replaced with
Unicode. Unicode fonts include a whole range of other non-Roman
characters, including, if you're lucky, Greek characters and
What this means:
- On the internet, browsers will now be able to display Greek
without programmers or web composers having to jump through a lot of
hoops. I am typing this in Netscape
(7.2). Time to upgrade your operating system and browsers if you can't
read the Greek here:
- And you can type Greek in word processing applications, as you
always could, except that now a standard is emerging that is
'cross-platform': Mac, Windows, etc. users will be able to send text to
each other without the Greek becoming garbled. (For print publishing,
The recipe for using Unicode Greek in
your word processor:
- You need a unicode-savvy word processor. For most of us, this
means upgrading to Microsoft Office 2004. The UofC has a campus
license. Students can pick up a CD from NSIT; faculty can borrow the CD
from Kathy. This is easy to install by yourself. Just
locate your CD drive, pop in the CD, and follow the instructions on
- When typing Greek you will now no longer switch fonts, but you'll switch keyboard layouts to easily type
obscure (read: Greek) ranges of the characters available in a
particular font. This is what my menubar looks like:
You'll see the familiar GreekKeys Universal keyboard layout. For
Unicode, in this menu, you can see the successor of the Greekkeys
layout, Greekkeys Unicode, and an alternative input method, based on
Open International.. opens your system preferences, where you can add
additional keyboard options (Dansk? Makedonski?) to this menu.
Here are links to some keyboard
resources that you will need. Characters will look the same whichever
you choose! It's just a matter of where you like your theta or your
smooth breathing to live on your keyboard..
A plug for this layout: if you are the
touch-type type of typist, this is the way to go. The diacritics are
located where you don't have to stretch to get to them. EASY!
NOTE: these keyboard resources are offered free of charge for now, but
this may change. Get them now!
To add these .rsrc files to your system, use the Finder and deposit the
files in Macintosh HD: Library: Keyboard Layouts, as in this picture:
(There are other 'Library' directories, such as in your home directory,
but that prevents somebody else working on your computer from using
You can still use your old files. Just use good old Athenian and the
Greekkeys keyboard layout. BUT read the Greekkeys FAQ: There are
problems associated with trying to use your good old GreekKeys in the
brave new world of Mac OSX: http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~pinax/greekkeys/GreekKeysWord2004.html
What about my old files, and what about Beta code? Is there
still any use for it?
Try Christopher Blackwell's converter to go from Beta code to good old
For converting a TLG file or a beta code file to Unicode, use this
or Sean Redmond's site at: http://www.jiffycomp.com/smr/unicode/.
NOTE: Under the license
agreement of TLG, you are not allowed to start your own publishing
house of Greek texts by copying theirs wholesale. Is that clear?
For compatibility with Unicode, use the online version of TLG. We
have an institutional license, which you can also access from home: set up a proxy
server (this works under Mozilla and Netscape but not Safari). The
proxy will ask you for your CNetID and password when you log on, but
then you're in. No, I don't like the web interface as much as I like
Pandora, but this is what we have at the moment..
What about searching TLG?
(I am not aware of a converter that goes from GreekKeys to Unicode. You
could do this in two steps, though. First convert to betacode, then to
Remember that when you go to Perseus, you can set the display by
clicking on the Configure Display link. Read the Perseus browser
instructions. Most computers will now display Unicode with precombined
accents just fine. Avoid Explorer for Mac for now, but consult the
Perseus Text Help pages for uptodate advice on browsers.
Perseus links: the main site is http://www.perseus.tufts.edu.
Our local mirror is http://perseus.uchicago.edu.
We can't always exactly mirror, however, so try Tufts or Berlin in case
of problems. NOTE: If you go to a different mirror site, you need to
re-configure your display options!
Here's a snapshot of where you can find the Configure Display link:
You can experiment with the various fonts on offer. Check out the Greekkeys
FAQ page. See if you like New
Athena Unicode, or are happier with Lucida Grande, or any of
the other fonts out there on the net, but remember that if you are
writing a web page, your readers may not have access to an obscure font
that you happen to have downloaded at some point.
I don't like the way my new Greek font looks!
Well, if you are preparing anything for print publication (who would?
:-)) it may NOT be a good idea to switch over to Unicode yet. Consult
with your intended publisher to find out if they can handle Unicode
Is there something else I should know? (or: Saving the bad news
This page is not the final word. It is cobbled together from what I
have found out on the sites I have linked to here. There are many
fuller, better-informed pages out there: Patrick Rourke at Stoa: http://www.stoa.org/unicode/index.html
or Nick Nicholas's page at: http://www.tlg.uci.edu/~opoudjis/unicode/unicode.html
Finally, of course, the Greekkeys website which you can find at http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~pinax/greekkeys/GreekKeys.html
Please send me comments and suggestions!