Unicode Fonts and Keyboard Layouts for Entering Diacritics

Authors of Mamluk Studies Review articles are asked to use Unicode fonts and proper diacritics. Unfortunately, not all fonts have all the required characters. Even when a font does have everything needed, it is not always easy to enter the more obscure characters or to figure out how to get a dot under a T or Z. The fonts and keyboard layouts listed below will help to solve these issues.

While we have tested most of what follows, and we have no reason to think that any of it will cause problems, we assume no responsibility for any negative effects that might be caused to any software or hardware by downloading, installing or using any of it.

Unicode:
What is Unicode? The explanation at Unicode.org is a good place to begin. Put simply, Unicode is a method of programming fonts that assigns a unique code to every symbol in every writing system. Thus, no matter what Unicode font is being used, software will always use precisely the symbol being called for (assuming that the font has that glyph). In older font technologies, each font might designate glyphs with codes that meant something else (or nothing at all) in another font. This causes problems when a user changes or does not have a document's font and an incorrect glyph (or nothing at all) appears in the place of a specific character or symbol. Not all fonts are Unicode fonts, and not all Unicode fonts have all possible characters (as this would make them too huge for convenient use). (Click here for an indication of the scripts currently included, and here for those not yet included in the Unicode standard.)

Users of Windows XP, Windows 7 or Mac OSX can use Unicode without a great deal of trouble, though not all software supports it equally (if at all). Microsoft Word does support Unicode under both platforms, but the degree of compatibility varies from one version to the next. There are several methods for entering Unicode in a document, some more complex than others. In general, the older the operating system or software, the less it will support Unicode.

Rather than attempt to cover every operating system and software version here, we suggest using a search engine to find what a given operating system or software can and cannot handle. Chances are someone else has had the same questions and there are probably answers out there that will help determine what to do.

Fonts

Keyboard Layouts for entering Unicode characters and diacritics

Because operating systems change frequently, it is impossible to summarize all the ways Unicode does and does not work in OS X, Windows or Linux. As of this writing (2012) most recent operating systems and software are able to use Unicode. To determine the limitations of your own system, you will need to experiment and search the Web for information. 

The most common problem users have with Unicode is figuring out how to type special characters that do not appear on a keyboard. For scholars of the Middle East, this usually has to do with transliteration of the Arabic alphabet as Roman characters.

A variety of keyboard layouts exist to facilitate this. A keyboard layout is a small piece of software that tells the computer what to do when certain keys, or combinations of keys, are pressed. In the basic US keyboard layout, holding the shift key and typing a letter results in a capital letter. The problem is that standard keyboard layouts do not have ways to type less-commonly used characters.

Many specialized keyboard layouts exist to solve this problem. For example, Kino created the excellent and extremely simple Alt-Latin and LatinTL keyboards specifically for this purpose. Other keyboards from Kino are listed at http://quinon.com/files/keylayouts

The Alt-Latin keyboard comes in versions for either Macintosh or Windows operating systems, and is one of the simplest, most transparent methods we have found for entering special characters, diacritics, and symbols not found on the standard keyboard. These keyboard layouts were created by Kino, and are made available for download here with his permission. Installation is simple and usage even simpler.

Using the Alt-Latin keyboard does not require making any changes to the physical keyboard connected to your computer; it is simply a piece of software that tells the computer what to do when you press a key or a combination of keys. As long as you are typing in the Latin alphabet (i.e. in English or most other European languages) you will not have to change from Alt-Latin to another layout. As can be seen in the diagrams below, Alt-Latin's key layout is identical to the standard US QWERTY keyboard. If your ordinary keyboard is different from the US standard layout, it may take some effort to get used to these. Spend some time with a search engine and you may find keyboard layouts that match your usual one.

Downloads:

Alt-Latin for Macintosh (or http://quinon.com/files/keylayouts/AltLatin.zip)
Alt-Latin for Windows XP (or http://quinon.com/files/keylayouts/windows/AltLatNT.zip)
Alt-Latin for Windows 7
Alt-Latin for Mac (UK keyboard version) http://quinon.com/files/keylayouts/AltLatinUK.zip
LatinTL for Macintosh (or http://quinon.com/files/keylayouts/LatinTL_X.dmg.sit) LatinTL (Mac only) was also created by Kino and is almost identical to his Alt-Latin, with a few differences (see below).

The following diagrams illustrate the usefulness of the Alt-Latin keyboard.
Click the images to download the diagrams as PDF files.

To download black and white versions, click the images:

black & white black & white

The differences between Alt-Latin (mapped above) and LatinTL:
In LatinTL option+5 is 0/00 (instead of dagger).
In LatinTL option+6 is a combining circumflex (instead of the s-over-s symbol).

In LatinTL shift+option+5 is a dagger (instead of the fi ligature).
In LatinTL shift+option+6 a non-combining circumflex (instead of the fl ligature).

In LatinTL option+i is a dotless lowercase i (instead of circumflex).
In LatinTL shift+option+i is capital I with dot (instead of circumflex).
(Because of these last two, LatinTL may be better for those who need to use Turkish.)

To type the dotless lower case i or the capital I with a dot using the Alt-Latin keyboard: type option+w followed by either i or I.

The Arabic Macintosh

Knut S. Vikør's Jaghbub keyboard layouts are also excellent (Mac only). His Arabic Macintosh pages have long been one of the web's most useful sources for Mac users who need to type Arabic or transliteration, and he has updated both the pages and the downloadable resources he created.

Unicode Characters Used in Transliteration

Characters used for Arabic transliteration in Mamluk Studies Review:
0100
Latin capital letter A with macron
0101
Latin small letter A with macron
Found in the Latin Extended-A range.
00E1
Latin small letter A with acute
(Used for alif maqsurah.)
Found in the Latin-1 Supplement range.
012A
Latin capital letter I with macron
012B
Latin small letter I with macron
Found in the Latin Extended-A range.
016A
Latin capital letter U with macron
016B
Latin small letter U with macron
Found in the Latin Extended-A range.
02BE
Modifier letter right half ring
Transliteration of Arabic hamza
Found in the Spacing Modifier Letters range.
Please do not use apostrophes, single quotation marks or superscripted letter "c" for 'ayn or hamza.
02BF
Modifier letter left half ring
Transliteration of Arabic 'ayn
Found in the Spacing Modifier Letters range.
Please do not use apostrophes, single quotation marks or superscripted letter "c" for 'ayn or hamza.
1E0C
Latin capital letter D with dot below
1E0D
Latin small letter D with dot below
Found in the Latin Extended Additional range.
1E24
Latin capital letter H with dot below
1E25
Latin small letter H with dot below
Found in the Latin Extended Additional range.
1E62
Latin capital letter S with dot below
1E63
Latin small letter S with dot below
Found in the Latin Extended Additional range.
1E6C
Latin capital letter T with dot below
1E6D
Latin small letter T with dot below
Found in the Latin Extended Additional range.
1E92
Latin capital letter Z with dot below
1E93
Latin small letter Z with dot below
Found in the Latin Extended Additional range.
The following characters are included here as they may be useful for authors who need to enter names or titles in modern Turkish or some European languages. It is not exhaustive. Characters which do not appear here can certainly be found by using online character pickers or the keyboards mentioned above.
00C7
Latin capital letter C with cedilla
00E7
Latin small letter C with cedilla
Found in the Latin-1 Supplement range.
011E
Latin capital letter G with breve
011F
Lating small letter G with breve
Found in the Latin Extended-A range
0130
Latin capital letter I with dot above
0131
Latin small letter dotles I
Found in the Latin Extended-A range
00D6
Latin capital letter O with diaeresis
00F6
Latin small letter O with diaeresis
Found in the Latin-1 Supplement range.
00DC
Latin capital letter U with diaeresis
00FC
Latin small letter U with diaeresis
Found in the Latin-1 Supplement range.
015E
Latin capital letter S with cedilla
015F
Latin small letter S with cedilla
Found in the Latin Extended-A range
For a more complete explanation of the transliteration system used in Mamluk Studies Review and other MEDOC projects, see the romanization table that appears on the last page of all issues of MSR and in the MSR editorial and style guidelines.