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Representing Greek - Font Notes for New Users

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Representing Greek - Font Notes for New Users

Postby annis » Mon May 12, 2003 9:51 pm

Textkit has inherited the broader problems in presenting Greek text on web pages. In the past, we used SPIonic, but now we use Unicode.


You will find SPIonic in older posts using Greek, and in a few of the Greek Tutorials, so you may want to install that font if you haven't already had a reason to do so.

Unfortunately, one past upgrade of the Forum software messed up all the Font tags, so you get to see unencoded SPIonic. This should always display completely, but isn't very nice to read. It is quite similar to Betacode.


Sensu stricto Unicode is not a font, but a method of encoding a writing system. It aims to provide a way to accurately represent every writing system in the world. Reasonably modern versions of all the major operating systems (Windows, Mac OSX, Linux and most Unices) will understand and correctly display any Unicode characters if there's a font available which can display the characters requested.

For Windows and Mac users (especially if your OS is pretty current), this presents no problems. Macs come by default with a Unicode font capable if displaying Classical Greek (also known as "polytonic" because of the many accent and breathing marks required). Windows users should see this Textkit post, which will explain both how to get the Microsoft fonts that can display polytonic Greek, as well as how to turn on methods to allow you to enter it.

Mac OSX has the concept of "Keyboard Layouts" which allow you to enter a dizzying array of languages. Versions 10.4 and later come with a built-in layout for polytonic Greek, but it's not very intuitive. Most of Textkit's Mac users use SophoKeys for entering Greek. That package comes with documentation explaining how to use the layout. If you're content to use Apple's, go into the "System Preferences" application, pick "International" and then the "Input Menu" tab. You'll want to check "Show input menu in menu bar", and then click the "Greek - Polytonic" layout. You'll have to log out and back in (or reboot) for this to take effect.

If you cannot produce Unicode Greek in the forum, please please please do not invent a new Latin transcription scheme for posting to the Forum. Often this is as hard to interpret as whatever question you might be asking. Please use Betacode. It's not very pretty, but it's unambiguous and widely used in scholarly circles for email, etc. It's also what SophoKeys uses, as well as this web tool which produces Greek for you: Greek Inputter.

Unicode Fonts

If you don't like your system's default Greek font for Unicode, a list with examples can be found here. Of them, I'd recommend SIL Gentium as choice that is both attractive and free, though some do find it too heavy.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
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Re: Representing Greek - Font Notes for New Users

Postby klewlis » Mon Jul 21, 2014 11:00 pm

unlocking this so we can update it.... written in 2003! :) which pieces are still useful, and which should we discard? (question especially for mac users since I don't know how you do things now.)
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Re: Representing Greek - Font Notes for New Users

Postby jaihare » Wed Sep 10, 2014 10:41 am

The font on the forum is still unattractive, since it doesn't capture all of the Unicode characters and ends up pulling from other fonts to fill in the gaps. This is the case for Windows users, anyway, even if you haven't noticed. ;)

I have a work-around for you, if you're interested. Someone over at B-Greek gave this to me a long time ago. You can create a bookmark on your bookmarks bar. I call mine "Greek font" and then put the following into it:

javascript:regexp=/([\u0370-\u037D\u0386-\u0386\u0388-\u03FF\u1F00-\u1FFF][\u0370-\u037D\u0386-\u0386\u0388-\u03FF\u1F00-\u1FFF\s]*[\u0370-\u037D\u0386-\u0386\u0388-\u03FF\u1F00-\u1FFF]?)/g;markup='<span class="greek">$1</span>';divs=document.getElementsByTagName("DIV");for(d=0;d<divs.length;d++){if(divs[d].className.indexOf('postbody')==0){divs[d].innerHTML=divs[d].innerHTML.replace(regexp,markup);}}head=document.getElementsByTagName("HEAD");for(d=0;d<divs.length;d++){newStyle="<style>.greek{font-family:Arial;}</style>";divs[d].innerHTML=divs[d].innerHTML+newStyle;}void(false);

Just copy the whole thing and use this as the URL. It will replace the Greek characters on the page with Arial.

Any time you access a page on which the Greek is unattractive, this will convert it all to Arial. You just have to click on the bookmark. It won't open a new page. It will just replace the characters in the specified range.

Compare: αἀ εἐ ιἰ ηἠ οὀ υὐ ωὠ

Do you see the differences in the specific shapes of the letters and their heights relative to one another? If the font were consistent, all of the letters would be the same height.

Compare: ἀἐἰἠὀὐὠ vs. αειηουω
Jason Hare

ὁ μὲν Παῦλος τοὺς ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις μαθητὰς τὴν χωρὶς νόμου δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐν Χριστῷ ἐδίδασκεν, οἱ δ᾿ ἄλλοι ἀπόστολοι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐδίδασκον τηρεῖν τὸν θεῖον νόμον τὸν χειρὶ Μωϋσέως δοθέντα.
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