Unicode Polytonic Greek for the World Wide Web
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Unicode Polytonic Greek
for the World Wide Web

Version 0.9.7


Unicode Support in Microsoft Word for Windows

Not everyone is comfortable creating web pages by typing HTML codes by hand in a text editor. Many of those who want to create web pageswith classicalGreek text lack eitherthe time or the motivation to learn the markup scheme by hand; others prefer the word-processing model of creating documents by typing on a blank "page" rather than the programming-like model used by standard markup editors and text editors like SC Unipad.

If you can type Unicode Greek into Word 2000 or Word XP, you can save it in an HTML file that will be readable as a Unicode page. It won't be pretty on the inside (Word 2000 or Word XP uses a proprietary combination of HTML and XML markup to preserve features of the printed Word document in the product HTML page),and it will be distinguishable from a page encoded by hand in a text editor by a professional, but it will be readable in a browser window.Because the method used to create a Unicode web page in Microsoft Word requires the creation of a standard word processing text document to begin with, this page will discuss methods of creating texts with Unicode Greek in Microsoft Word, and describe how to convert suchMicrosoft Worddocuments to HTML pages.

Three things to remember about this method:

  1. Microsoft Word is an expensive product (the price for Microsoft Office runs from $100 to $600 depending upon the license type and how many of the office applications you need)
  2. The Unicode able versions of Microsoft Word, Microsoft Word 97, Microsoft Word 2000, and Microsoft Word XP, are only available for Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, and Windows XP. The versions of Microsoft Word available for the Macintosh operating systems (including Word 98, Word 2001, and Word v.X for OS X) do not support Unicode, though one can use VirtualPC to run Windows on a Mac and thereby run a Windows version of Word. You can try running Microsoft Word on WINE on Linux, but I wouldn't recommend it.
  3. Only Windows 2000 and Windows XP come with an installable keyboard utility. For other versions of Windows, you will have to install a separate keyboard utility like Antioch or Keyman. For these operating systems, you may have to pay as much as $50 for a Microsoft Word keyboard utility for Greek.

These instructions are for Microsoft Word 2000 or Word XP for Windows. They probably aren't completely adaptable to Word 97.


Microsoft Office 2000 comes with an "International Font" package featuring the Arial Unicode MS font. To install the font, insert your Microsoft Office 2000 installation CD and run SETUP.EXE. Next, select the "Add/Remove Features" button. You will be confronted with a tree window showing the features for each Microsoft Office application, and an additional category of "Office Tools." Click on the plus sign to expand the "Office Tools" branch of the tree, then click on the plus sign next to the "International Support" branch. For three of the items listed under "International Support," change the icon to a disk-drive icon with a white background (representing "run from my computer"): Core Support Files, Extended Support Files, and Universal Font. (I'd suggest adding the bidirectional support, too; while it's not necessary for Greek, it is needed for Arabic and Hebrew). Then click the "Update Now" button and follow the remaining instructions.

You can also download the Arial Unicode MS font from the Microsoft Office Update website, but keep in mind that you must have a license for one of the Office 2000 applications that include permission to use the font, or you'll be violating the copyright for the font.

Entering Unicode Greek the Hard Way: Insert Symbol

Now you have everything you need to read and create web pages with Unicode polytonic Greek (Microsoft Office 2000 requires and installs Internet Explorer 5.0, so you've got a Unicode-capable web browser, too). If you want to, you can just go ahead and type until you get to a point when you need to type Greek (for the moment, we'll use a short Greek passage in an English document for our example: it's quicker). Now you need to know how to get that Greek into your document.

The hard way to get Unicode text into a Word 2000 or Word XP document is to use the "Insert > Symbol" command to insert the appropriate Greek letter from the Arial Unicode MS font. It took me several minutes to type the following:

More important than this, however, are the implications of line 1000, σωφρονοῦντες ἐν χρόνῳ.  Blass and Groeneboom tell us that  ἐν χρόνῳ is ‘meaningless’ here, and print instead Weil’s conjecture ἒμφρονος.  In this they are certainly mistaken. I cannot find that ἒμφρων is used anywhere in Greek literature as an epithet for a god, nor should we expect it to be.

(Dodds, “Morals and Politics in the Oresteia,” The Ancient Concept of Progress, p. 53 (Oxford, 1973); originally published in Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 186 (1960))

(I have edited the html for cleanliness)

For each Greek character which has no accent, or only an acute accent, I used the characters in the "Basic Greek" character block of Unicode; for all the other Greek characters, I used the extended Greek block (this follows the recommendation for precomposed characters in Normalization Form C, with a couple of exceptions). Unfortunately, this meant that in the Insert Symbol dialogue box I had to scroll past the names of a number of other character blocks each time I switched between them. I did develop a couple of workarounds, the most sophisticated being to type all the "basic Greek" characters at once, then the "extended Greek" characters, and finally use cut and paste to combine them.

If you want to punish yourself in this way, here's how to insert Greek text using the Insert Symbol command.

Making Life a Little Easier: Keyboard Mapping

Inserting characters one at a time is exhausting. Obviously it is more desirable to set your keyboard up in a way that will allow you to type Greek without having to hunt and peck your way through a character map.

A do-it-yourself way of getting past this issue is with a homemade keyboard mapping. You can map the most commonly used letters and letter/diacritical combinations to keystrokes with the "Shortcut Key" button in the Insert > Symbol window.

Whatever you do, do not combine the Symbol font with Arial Unicode MS or any other Unicode font; this makes for extremely messy code that will be impossible to use at some point in the future.

To create remap part of the keyboard for Greek:

  1. Select the Input > Symbol menu from the menu.
  2. Select the font Arial Unicode MS (this has a wider range than many other Unicode fonts, so it will make it easier for you to write the keyboard. You can change the font to your preferred font later).
  3. Change the subset to "basic Greek"
  4. Select each Greek character you want to add to the keyboard with your mouse.
  5. Click on the shortcut key button
  6. Hold down the keystroke that you want to remap to that key. Note that you will not be allowed to remap the basic characters (e.g., the letter D), only combinations with control and alt (including e.g. ctrl-shift-D, ctrl-alt-D, ctrl-alt-shift-D; but not shift-D).
  7. Click the assign button
  8. Click the close button
  9. Repeat as necessary for the basic Greek characters, including the characters with acute accents.
  10. Now change the subset to "extended Greek" and repeat with the most common accented character combinations. Not every possible combination will fit in a remapped keyboard, so it might be worthwhile to think about which combinations you are least likely to use.
  11. When you are done, make sure that you close out of Word completely to save the changes to your template. It might be advisable to do so several times, so you can save your work incrementally.
  12. When you are done, your keystrokes will be remapped to the characters you have chosen; the font will be whatever font you are typing in at the time. This means that you will often see the wrong characters if you are using a font that doesn't have that character included. However, in versions of Word, changes to the font will be ignored if the characters are not included in the newly chosen font.
  13. Note, however, that any existing keyboard shortcuts (like ctrl-s for save, ctrl-v for paste, and alt-f for the file menu) will be destroyed.
  14. If you delete the normal.dot file in the Templates directory, you will lose the Greek key remappings, as well as all of your other customizations.

Just make sure that in the save window you check the Tools menu, Web Options, Encoding, Save this Document As setting to the Unicode UTF-8 encoding.

The Right Way to Do It: Alternate Keyboards and Keyboard Utilities

Fortunately, none of the above is really necessary any longer. If you have Windows 2000 or Windows XP, you can use the polytonic Greek keyboard that comes on the Windows CD to type your Greek in Word (and in Notepad and Outlook Express and several other applications as well).

If you don't have Windows 2000 or Windows XP, and you want to type Greek in Microsoft Word, you will have to download a keyboard alternative. Three in wide use in North America are Tavultesoft Keyman. Multikey, and Antioch.

Tavultesoft Keyman

Tavultesoft Keyman is an alternative keyboard program that allows you to use custom-designed keyboards for input. This is a boon to minority languages which are represented in Unicode but are not represented in Microsoft's keyboard offerings.

Keyman works with Microsoft Word in the versions described in this section, and works with other programs, including Notepad, in Windows 2000 and Windows XP. At the time of writing, Keyman 6.0 sold for $39 for non-personal use, $19 for non-personal educational use, and free for personal use (including personal educational use).

Lukas Pietsch, Manuel A. Lopez, and David Perry have created keyboards for polytonic Greek for use with Keyman.




Antioch is a Greek, Hebrew, and Coptic text entry system that works with Microsoft Word 97 and 2000, and Greek and Coptic in Word XP. In addition to programmable keyboards for these scripts and the Vusillus Old Face font (not just the free italic version of the font), Antioch also includes scripts that will allow you to convert Greek text in older encodings to Unicode, AutoCorrect features, and other macros that will make it more valuable to most users than the other keyboards listed above. On the other hand, Antioch is not free software (the price at the time of writing was $50), and it can only be used in Microsoft Word, not in Notepad or OpenOffice.

 Unicode Polytonic Greek for the World Wide Web Version 0.9.7
 Copyright © 1998-2002 Patrick Rourke. All rights reserved.
D R A F T - Under Development
 Please do not treat this as a published work until it is finished!
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