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 diacritics.

What this means:
ῥᾴδιον ἤδη!

The recipe for using Unicode Greek in your word processor:
a picture of my keyboard menu

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 SuperGreek.
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 them)

addingrsrcfiles picture

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:

Try Christopher Blackwell's converter to go from Beta code to good old Greekkeys:

For converting a TLG file or a beta code file to Unicode, use this site:
or Sean Redmond's site at:
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..
(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 Unicode)
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 Our local mirror is 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.
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 yet.

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: or Nick Nicholas's page at: 
Finally, of course, the Greekkeys website which you can find at

Helma Dik,
September 2004
Please send me comments and suggestions!