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Typing in Biblical Languages

This guide will teach you how to set up your keyboard layout, install new keyboard layouts, choose the right font, and customize your word processors all for use with the biblical languages.

Determine Your Needs

For most students doing undergraduate or masters work, a font that supports common characters in biblical studies is all that is necessary.

According the Style Manual, the required fonts for Greek and Hebrew are SBL Greek and SBL Hebrew.

SBL BibLit is a font that packages SBL Greek and SBL Hebrew together.

Though SBL BibLit contains regular Latin characters, Times New Roman is the font in which all English text must be!


Why Unicode Fonts?

Whenever possible, use a Unicode font. Here's why:

  • Unicode is the international standard for handling characters for all foreign languages, not just Greek and Hebrew.
  • Unicode text will print more reliably.
  • Unicode is the only way to post Greek/Hebrew to the web (see the examples of 2 Timothy 2:15 below).
    • Unicode Text
      • σπούδασον σεαυτὸν δόκιμον παραστῆσαι τῷ θεῷ, ἐργάτην ἀνεπαίσχυντον, ὀρθοτομοῦντα τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας.
    • Non-Unicode BibleWorks font
      • spou,dason seauto.n do,kimon parasth/sai tw/| qew/|( evrga,thn avnepai,scunton( ovrqotomou/nta to.n lo,gon th/j avlhqei,ajÅ
        (This line will not look like Greek unless you have the BW font on your computer.)

Try copying and pasting each of these verses into a plain text editor like Windows Notepad, and you should see the difference between the actual Greek characters used by Unicode and the masked English characters used by the BibleWorks font.

Different Fonts

Biblical Greek

  • SBL Greek
    • this is the standard font for biblical studies
  • Times New Roman
  • SIL Fonts
    • Gentium
    • Galatia

Biblical Hebrew

Epigraphic Hebrew

Rabbinic Hebrew

  • Open Sidur
    • This website contains a collection of fonts for all types of Hebrew
    • Fonts such as "BenOr Rashi" or "Mekorot Rashi" are good for displaying Hebrew characters in the Rashi script
  • Beth Mardutho
    • This is a collection of multiple fonts by the Beth Mardutho.

Textual Criticism

  • Apparatus SIL
    • The characters in Apparatus are available in the fonts Charis SIL, Doulos SIL, Gentium Plus and Andika SIL. The specific "apparatus" glyphs are the same in each font; the design of the apparatus characters was not updated to match the design of each font.

International Phonetic Alphabet

These fonts are useful for IPA symbols and using diacritics.

  • Charis SIL
    • The standard version has a very large line height; the "compact" version is more practical for typical writing
  • Doulos SIL
    • Similar to Charis SIL in support of characters, but with a look similar to Times New Roman

Adding a Font

Windows 10 or 8

Using the Installer

  • Many font packages will come with a a file called setup.exe or file ending with .msi which will automatically install the font for you
  • The originally downloaded file can be deleted

Manually Install

  • Right-click on the font file and select "Open"
  • This will bring up a dialog box. Click "Install"
  • The originally downloaded file can be deleted

Drag and Drop

Taken from here.

  • Search for Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization
  • Click on Fonts
  • Open a file explorer window with the font file
  • Drag the font file into the Font folder
  • The originally downloaded file can be deleted

Windows 7 or Vista

Taken from here.

  • Click Start, and then click Run.
  • Type the following command, and then click OK: %windir%\fonts
  • On the File menu, click Install New Font.
  • In the Drives box, click the drive that contains the font that you want to add.
    • Note The floppy disk drive is typically drive A or drive B. The CD drive is typically drive D.
  • In the Folders box, click the folder that contains the font that you want to add, and then click OK.
  • In the List of fonts box, click the font that you want to add. To select more than one font at a time, press and hold the CTRL key while you select each font.
  • Click to select the Copy Fonts To Fonts Folder check box. The new font is saved in the Windows\Fonts folder.
  • Click OK.

Primary Method

Taken from here.

  • Open Finder and double-click on the font file
    • You may have to unzip the file first
    • Fonts will usually end with the extension .ttf or .otf
  • Double-click on the file, which will bring up a pop-up window.
  • Click on Install Font
  • The Font Book application will validate the font and install it
  • If necessary, you can change which users have access to the font
  • The originally downloaded file can be deleted

Secondary Method

  • Open Finder and go Applications > Font Book
  • Go to File > Add Fonts
  • Select the downloaded file
  • It will be added to your font collection