* Non-Unicode Fonts: not recommended ■■
* Unicode Fonts
Anyone starting to study Greek with the help of a computer is first of all confronted with the technical problem of the Greek fonts. A recent and elegant solution for the confusing variety of Greek fonts is provided by Unicode. Making use of a Unicode font ensures that the Greek characters will not change into Latin characters, whenever the font is changed. Nowadays, most sites make use of Unicode fonts. Some free possibilities include "Arial Unicode", "Times New Roman" (latest version), "Palatino Linotype". The Gentium and Brill font types are especially recommended. Samples of more than 50 Unicode fonts for polytonic Greek are presented in Wazu Japan's Gallery of Unicode Fonts and the beautiful pages of the Greek Font Society.
Typing Greek in Unicode
Desktop operating systems
The advantage of entering Greek in Unicode lies in the fact that one does not need to switch fonts when typing Greek and Latin characters. Nowadays, most operating systems (Windows, iOS) use Unicode and include an option to change their keyboards to Polytonic Greek. The following manuals (by Louisiana State University) explain how to activate the polytonic Greek keyboard:
This is the standard polytonic Greek keyboard layout in its Windows version. The Mac version only differs in minor details.
Very basic web-based tools can be found here (by James Naughton, Oxford University), here (by Randy Hoyt), and here (at Lexilogos). They allow you to enter your text in the Latin alphabet and automatically convert it into Greek characters.
The following programs require installation:
- Multikey is a free keyboard program designed by Stefan Hagel. It offers predefined jeyboard tables for Latin with diacritics, Cyrillic, Hebrew, Arabic, etc., but also ten polytonic Greek encodings (Aisa, WinGreek Greek, Athenian, Logos Gramma, Kadmos, EuroKeys, OldGreek, WP Greek Century, WL Greek, Grk).
- Keyman is not free, but it works very well.
Keyman Desktop 8 takes typing in your language everywhere. Use it across your desktop and online, in all your favourite programs for text and image editing, Web browsing, email, IM and so much more.
Mobile operating systems
Viewing polytonic Greek
Unfortunately, Android doesn't automatically support polytonic Greek. In this blog post you can read how to install polytonic Greek fonts, depending on what you need them for. For most purposes, it will suffice to install the Fontomizer app. Fontomizer adds a number of fonts to your device; if you select a full Unicode font (e.g. Tahoma), you will be able to view Ancient Greek in most circumstances.
Unlike Android, Apple's iOS and Windows Phone (both 7.8 and 8) can view Ancient Greek text.
Typing polytonic Greek
When it comes to polytonic Greek input, none of the mobile operating systems has a built-in solution. For Windows Phone, there is no solution so far, but for iOS (both iPhone and iPad) and Android, a mobile version of the Keyman app (see above) is available. Keyman does, however, not affect other apps, so you will have to open the app every time you want to type in Ancient Greek.
Conversion and transliteration tools
What to do with texts or text fragments written in non-Unicode fonts? There are several possibilities to convert them.
- Greek Font to Unicode Converter by Sean Redmond. Web-based solution.
Unicode is now almost universally used for representing the many writing systems of the word, but it wasn't always that way. Until 2005, for instance, GreekKeys, distributed by the American Philological Association and one of the most popular applications used to input Greek text, employed a proprietary encoding. This converter can update those legacy encodings. You can also convert to and from BetaCode, an all-ASCII encoding used by the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae. [from the website]
- Greek Transcoder is a powerful and highly recommended solution that functions in Microsoft Word (and therefore requires installation).
GreekTranscoder is a program which converts polytonic Greek characters written using one text encoding into another one. Its primary goal is to allow the conversion of documents using older fonts and encodings into Unicode fonts. However, it also allows converting text between older encodings as well as from Unicode into those obsolete formats. Currently GreekTranscoder supports the following legacy encodings: Beta Code, GreekKeys, Ismini, LaserGreek, Paulina Greek, SGreek, SPIonic, SuperGreek, Vilnius University, WinGreek (and Son of WinGreek).
- With this transliteration tool, you can make a transliteration of Unicode Greek (Latin characters).
The following sites contain a large number of useful links.