Monday, March 02, 2009

New Unicode Font for Papyrology and Textual Criticism

My colleague Stefan Green (exegetisk teologi) pointed me to Danny Zacharias (Deinde) who announced that a new unicode font for papyrology and textual criticism is available, IFAOGrec Unicode. There are also other versions for transliterations, and Coptic available. For description, samples and download, see here.

Up to this point I have been using Gentium (for Greek) in combination with Cardo (for some special sigla), but sometimes I haven't been entirely pleased. Anyway, this new font seems very nice and should be of good benefit for papyrologists and textcritics.

Comments on your experiences with fonts are welcome!


  1. I installed it and it looks good; however, it does same to me as Cardo, Times, etc - sometimes (when I accentuate epsilon, or eta, etc), it changes the font to Lucilda Grande and makes it bigger. I find it frustrating a great deal. Do you know what the problem can be? I use the Unicode keyboard layout from Tyndale House "Greek TH" on my Macbook. Do you think it could be the keyboard layout that is doing this to me or what? Thanks for your help

  2. Peter, no I don't know why this happens. But when I have used some polytonic Greek fonts it has happened that it switches to New Athena unicode or Lucida Grande. Normally I would edit such stuff later on just by marking the text and choosing the font I want.

    I have generally used Gentium in combination with Cardo. This font has all signs and more I think. For example, the lunar sigma is useful, and I also had some problems with the overbar over nomina sacra written in uncial letters.

  3. Re Peter Malik's observation about some fonts: I have noticed the same phenomenon with certain fonts (e.g., Times New Roman) but not with others (such as Gentium Alt). I have tended to chalk this up to missing characters in certain fonts (not really knowing whether this is possible).

    At the same time, I have received Greek text from a colleague in TNR that displayed characters properly that would not display properly when I typed them on my computer.
    So now I wonder: are some versions of fonts like TNR are more complete than others?

    Whatever the answer, I have ended up using fonts that don't misbehave on my computer--such as Gentium Alt.

  4. Yes, replacement letters are usually caused by a letter or combination that the primary font does not cover.

    NB: on keyboards and layouts, there has been a national Greek typewriter layout in use for over a hundred years, it is the basis for both the Mac and XP standard layouts (choose 'Polytonic' of course). I cannot recommend the Tyndale keyboard because it contravenes the standard national Greek keyboard. It is better to learn to touchtypye Greek and then be able to use any computer anywhere in the world, especially all over Greece. **You never know when you will be sitting at a computer terminal in a hotel on a Greek island and needing to send a Greek message to someone.**

    And subliminally, we would want to suggest to Greek students that (NT) Greek is connected to the rest of the Greek language, along with its writing conventions and keyboard. These comments apply to Hebrew, too. Students should be encouraged to be connected to the rest of the language and should learn to touchtype its system if they are dedicating their lives to its literature. (For some reason, 'bible software' programs developed as if these languages had no history and no users. It is slowly being corrected and I am happy to say that Accordance added the Greek national keyboard last year. They long ago provided a Hebrew national keyboard.)

  5. Unless it is a matter of a font lacking a needed character, the change to Lucida Grande and a different size it more a matter of compatibility of the word processor and the defined style than the font, esp. when pasting in text from another application. And yes, there is a newer version of Times New Roman that is now fully polytonic (v. 5.x I think), whereas older versions are only monotonic. I think the new version came along with Vista (on Windows) and Leopard (on Mac--or perhaps it came with the new Word/Office 2008 for Mac?).

  6. I have installed the Gentium as well, and with the breathing mark on epsilon it still does the same thing, it changes the epsilon to Lucida Grande. I guess, it's a lot for my academic life... :))

  7. P.S. Do you think that if I uninstall the Lucida Grande from my computer, this vicious cycle could end and my new Greek font would be free indeed?

  8. > Do you think that if I uninstall the Lucida Grande from my computer...

    No. Don't do that. The OS uses that font for various things. It's the default Unicode font.

  9. Proson is an OCT-like font which has no such problems. It has all of polytonic Greek in precomposite form, so they all work unchanged in Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, Solaris and all other Unicode-enabled operating systems.
    Proson is available free of charge from my website, i.e.
    A virtual Unicode keyboard called Nanos is also available there, making polytonic a pleasure to edit.
    ALL polytonic (and monotonic) characters available at just one mouse-click. For Mac OS X, Windows, Linux and Solaris. Can be combined with any physical keyboard layout.