Fonts and
keyboard layouts

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Multilingual keyboard layout

Русская клавиатура
‘Putin’ = ‘Путин’

ἀνεῤῥίφθω ᾠδή
Polytonic Greek keyboard

Character input info
Windows Icon

Download/install info
“Ideographs for idiots”
HTML codes for arrows and punctuation

Updated 2018-08-28

Four specialised fonts Top



Fits into text with normal line spacing. You may also find this transparent image file useful (I do).
Also view/download keyboard layout and examples for this font


Fits into text with normal line spacing. You might also find this transparent image file useful (I do).
Also view/download keyboard layout & examples for this font.



Symbols for English, French and Swedish phonemes. The symbols ← here read: När sjuksköterskan var färdig med son travail she descendait au garage for a quick smoke. View/ download keyboard layout | complete table



Symbols that save space in reference appendices (composer, film company & director, cover version, performer, vocalist, conductor, disc, tape, DVD, VHS, TV, off-air, etc.). See keyboard layout guide.


Fonts and keyboard layouts: basic ideas and information

Your computer can produce a vast array of characters and symbols (Unicode UTF-8 standard, most likely) but the standard laptop keyboard has only 48 keys. They can do little more than cover 48×2=96 different characters. So, if you want to avoid offending the Åströms by calling them Astrom, or if you want to avoid using foul French like lecon (!) when you mean a perfectly decent leçon, you need at least to know how to produce the letters Å and Ç. If you write about music you'll also need to generate the shape of sharps, flats, naturals and short snippets of notated rhythm at your computer keyboard. You might also want to spell Dvořák properly, or explain the Greek origins of ‘polyphony’ (πολύ and φωνή) or quote something in Russian or Chinese.

There are three main ways of using your computer keyboard to produce all these sorts of symbols and characters: [1] by changing keyboard layout; [2] by changing fonts; [3] by using standard routines that come with your computer to generate a limited number of extra characters. PCs and Macs both have ways of generating ÁÉÍÓÚ ÀÈÌÒÙ ÂÊÎÔÛ ÄËÏÖÜ ÃÑÕÅØÇ (with lower-case, too) but neither Windows nor Mac make it easy for anyone with a Western European or North American computer to generate letters like Ă Č Ğ İ Ł Ň Ő Ř Ś Š Ț Ů Ű Ŵ Ŷ Ž Ż from the same keyboard layout, nor do they offer easy routines for writing in Russian, Bulgarian, Mongolian or Greek. The three keyboard layouts described in this document address those issues.

1. Keyboard layouts

Your keyboard can be mapped so that existing keys can produce any character with a code number in the UNICODE set (UTF-8). The AltGr key can be used to access those values (ç, š, ö, â, ñ, etc.), as can dead-key combinations (e.g. ` directly followed by e to produce è). Dead keys are the safest way of producing diacritic letters and are at the base of [1] Tagg's multilingual keyboard; [2] the Greek Polytonic keyboard covering both Modern and Ancient Greek characters; [3] the Russian keyboard with keys set so that typing "Vladimir Putin" produces Владимир Путин (linguistically correct, even if politically questionable).

2. Fonts

Many fonts provide tables interpreting codes from the keyboard in ways that do not merely provide aesthetic variants of the same letter (like this or this or this, etc.). For example, typing lower-case H (h) in the XPTmusic1 font produces a minim (Halfnote) and upper-case H (H) a minim rest, while typing dollar ($) produces a flat sign () etc. In short, fonts let you type various types of non-verbal symbols into any document you’re working on.

TOF Font installation

Installation procedures vary from one (version of an) operating system to another. I’m assuming everyone knows how to install a new font on their own computer.


Character input (English-language computers)

Conventional solutions without installation of a supplementary keyboard layout

General language limitations

This section (both Windows and Mac segments) covers only roman-letter diacritics for such languages as Gaelic, French, Catalan, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, Estonian and the Nordic languages. It does not include graphemes peculiar to: Czech and Slovak (č ď ě ĺ ň ř š ť ů ž), Hungarian (ő ű), Latvian (ā č ē ģ ķ ļ ņ š ū ž), Lithuanian (ą č š ų ū ž), Polish (ą ć ł ń ś ź ż), Romanian (ă ş ț), Slovenian (š ž), Turkish (ğ İ) or Welsh (ŵ ŷ). You’ll need to use other methods to spell ŁódźŽižek, Dvóřak and Dŵr Cymru correctly and to show some respect for the language cultures concerned (about 160 million people). To cover all of those characters (and much more) I recommend Tagg’s multilingual keyboard (below) for Windows. See also the Cyrillic and Greek keyboards, also below.

Windows   |  Go to Diacritics on a Mac  |

Diacritics(go to other characters)

By far the best partial solution to the ethnocentricity of region-specific keyboards is Microsoft’s own US-International keyboard. It is definitely worth installing. It uses five dead keys (' ` ^ " ~) to produce the following characters.

dead key
then one of these
produces this
' apostrophe
Aa Cc Ee Ii Oo Uu Yy
Áá Çç Éé Íí Óó Úú Ýý
` grave
Aa Ee Ii Oo Uu
Àà Èè Ìì Òò Ùù
^ circumflex
Aa Ee Ii Oo Uu
Ââ Êê Îî Ôô Ûû
" quote (straight)
Aa Ee Ii Oo Uu
Ää Ëë Ïï Öö Üü
~ tilde
Aa Nn Oo
Ãã Ññ Õõ

It also uses AltGr combinations (AltGr at the same time
as another key) to produce these characters.

A a
Á á
E e
É é
Q q
Ä ä
N n
Ñ ñ
W w
Å å
P p
Ö ö
Z z
Æ æ
L l
Ø ø
< ,
Ç ç
T t
Þ þ
D d
Ð ð
Y y
Ü ü
C c
¢ ©
$ 4
£ ¤
[  ]
«  »
6 7 8
¼ ½ ¾
\  |
¬  ¦
9 0
‘ ’ (quotes)


Mac icon Direct input of diacritic letters on an English-language Mac   

Mac language limitations

Mac language limitations are identical to those enumerated under General language limitations, above.

Basic procedures

  1. Pressing the Alt key and a standard key at the same time on an English-language Mac keyboard produces a third character when both those keys are released (Aa > Åå, Cc > Çç, Oo > Øø, see below).
  2. Pressing the Alt key with any one of the following keys at the same time ― e ` i u n ~ ― lets you enter a third standard key with the requisite diacritic. For example, pressing the Alt key together with lower-case E (e) shows an underlined acute accent on screen (´ ); pressing e again replaces the ´  with é.
Alt +
followed by
A a
 Å å  directly
C c
 Ç ç  directly
A a E e I i O o U u
Á á É é Í í Ó ó Ú ú
A a E e I i O o U u
 â Ê ê Î î Ô ô Û û
A a N n O o
à ã Ñ ñ Õ õ
O o
Ø ø  directly
A a E e I i O o U u
À à È è Ì ì Ò ò Ù ù

A a E e I i O o U u   Top
Ä ä Ë ë Ï ï Ö ö Ü ü








(continues below!)



Producing additional symbols and characters on a Mac

Method A

  1. Open any document in a text editing application (e.g. Word).
  2. Click the language flag icon in the top line (near the right) of your Mac monitor.
  3. Click Show Character Viewer and see if the character you want to produce is listed anywhere under Arrows, Parentheses, Punctuation, etc., or under ‘Favorites’. If it is, double click the character you want and it will be written to your text file.

Method B

  1. Open any document in a text editing application (e.g. Word).
  2. Click the language flag icon in the top line (near the right) of your Mac monitor.
  3. Select a keyboard layout whose characters you want to view.
  4. Click Show Keyboard Viewer to (surprise!) view that keyboard layout. Don’t forget to check its Shift and Alt modes, too.
  5. If you find the character/symbol you’re looking for, type the relevant key or key combination. That symbol/character is then written to the open document.
  6. Don’t forget to switch back to your usual keyboard layout .

Method C

Let’s say you want to write ‘½’ (half) and ‘Δ’ (delta) but can’t find those characters using methods A or B.

  1. Open any document in a text editing programme
  2. Click the language flag icon in the top line (near the right) of your Mac monitor.
  3. Click Show Character Viewer.
  4. In the Search box enter half to find ‘½ ’, which appears in the middle column.
  5. Select ½ and click Add to ‘Favorites’ (right column).
  6. In the Search box enter delta to find ‘Δ’, which appears in the middle column.
  7. Select Δ and click Add to ‘Favorites’ (right column).

To retrieve characters added to ‘Favorites’ (favourites):

  1. Open any document in a text editing programme
  2. Click the language flag icon in the top line (near the right) of your Mac monitor.
  3. Click Show Character Viewer.
  4. Select ‘Favorites’ and double-click whichever character you want to appear in your text file.

Top FontsKbds KEYBOARD LAYOUTS   (radical solutions)   


Кириллица клавиатура
Type Lenin to see Ленин

ἀνεῤῥίφθω κύβος
Greek polytonic keyboard

Conventional keyboard

Tagg’s multilingual roman-character keyboard
(2013, update 2018 to include μ ♭ ♯ ← → ↑ ↓)  

Includes all characters for all European languages using the roman alphabet, plus many useful symbols.
Hover over a character in the box below to reveal the dead key combination producing it.

NB. This won‘t work on a mobile phone. Use this key instead.


















This keyboard is really useful if you need  to mention Dvořák and Martinů, or to quote Slavoj Žižek’s ruminations on Rasa Kaušiūtė’s performance of a Eurovision song in Łódź. It’s also useful if you want to settle your account with Dŵr Cymru, or write about something in F♯ minor, or avoid calling Herr Åström Astrom, or writing lecon instead of leçon.  It also lets your produce some mathematical and financial characters. You can even author correctly edited books and articles that use proper quotes (‘…’ or “… ” or «… » instead of "…" or '… '), Em dashes (—, not just - ), bullets (• ▪), section signs (§ ¶) and suchlike.

 Top Кириллица клавиатура — Cyrillic keyboard for Westerners   KeyboardIcon

The following Cyrillic letters are more or less where Western Europeans might expect to hear/see them:

Aa Аа | Bb Бб | Dd Дд | Ff Фф | Gg Гг | Hh Хх | Ii Ии | Jj Йй | Kk Кк | Ll Лл | Mm Мм | Nn Нн | Oo Оо | Pp Пп | Rr Рр | Ss Сс | Tt Тт | Uu Уу | Vv Вв | Yy Ыы | Zz Зз

Other Cyrillic characters are produced as follows:

Ee Ее | _- Ээ | + = Ёё | Xx Жж | Cc Чч |Qq Шш | {[ Цц | }] Щщ | Ww Юю | ~` Яя | &* Өө |<, Ьь | °\ Ъъ |

Top Greek polytonic keyboard layout
(incl. Ancient Greek diacritics)     

Includes all Modern Greek characters with accents (αάβγδεέζηήθιίκλμνοόπρσςτυύφχψωώ plus capitals, numerals and symbols). Based on standard Greek keyboard layout with colon and semicolon on Q and accent on ; To produce "Ξενάκης" type "Jenakhw" (; is the accent dead key preceding the requisite vowel, e.g. ά = ;a). This keyboard also includes all Ancient Greek letters with accents, breathings and iota subscripts and adscripts. Please note that these characters are only visible in fonts with full Unicode suppot (e.g. Arial Unicode MS): ἀ ἐ ἠ ἰ ὀ ὐ ὠ ἁ ἑ ἠ ἱ ὁ ὑ ὡ ἄ ἔ ἤ ἴ ὄ ὤ ἅ ἕ ἥ ἵ ὅ ὕ ὥ ᾳ ῃ ῳ ᾄ ᾔ ᾤ ᾇ ᾗ ᾧ ᾱ ῑ ῡ ῒ ῢ, etc., e.g. ᾠδή = {ψδ;η.

Downloading and installing keyboard layouts (Windows only)

Subsection A: creating the installation package

Subsection B: accessing and using your new keyboard

If you’re running Windows you’ll need to:

  1. Select Start > Settings > Control panel > Regional and Language Options
  2. Open the Languages tab and select Details.
    N.B. We’re in
     Start > Settings > Control panel > Regional and Language Options > Details   
    until reaching the bullet point  ‘● Hit  Apply, then   OK’,  about 10 lines down from here…
  3. Depending on which keyboard[s] you’ve just installed, check that:
    ▪ The multilingual keyboard is listed under  English (United States) as  USPT11 (or similar).
    ▪ The Greek keyboard is listed under  Greek  as  Greek Polytonic - PT01.
    ▪ The Cyrillic keyboard is listed under  Russian  as  Russian Phonetic 1.

IMPORTANT. A normal English-language keyboard needs to be available in addition to whichever of these keyboards you download and install. It’s simplest to ensure that the keyboard  ‘ US’   under  ‘English (United States)’ is included as a keyboard option. This is because keyboard strokes using the layout[s] you’ve just installed can conflict with keyboard shortcuts used in various software applications. It’s really easy to switch between keyboards using the language bar and it’s easy to use mouse clicks instead of keyboard shortcuts in many applications.

When you’ve done whatever applies to the keyboard[s] you downloaded/installed, you need to:

Finally (in Windows XP):

  1. If you’ve installed the Cyrillic or Greek keyboard, use the language bar to check that you can switch languages by clicking on the language abbreviation button —EN for English, RU/РУС for Russian, EL/ΕΛ for hELlenic (Ελληνικό = Greek).
  2. Right-click the language bar and ensure that the option  Additional icons in task bar  is selected. This should reveal a small keyboard icon which, when clicked, allows you to change betwen, say, the keyboards English (United States) as  USPT11 and English (United States) US, both of which have EN as their language abbreviation button in the language bar. Very useful if you need to use the keyboard[s] you downloaded at the same time as using keyboard shortcuts in software like Adobe Photoshop.



“Ideographs for Idiots”: simple Chinese character generation for non-Sinophones



Example: generating the Chinese character for the English word good.

  1. If you don't know the Chinese for good go to the online Chinese dictionary.
  2. Type in good and press Search. You will be shown a list of possible translations of good into Chinese.
  3. Choose the most appropriate alternative displayed in the right-hand column. I’m selecting hăo (), as in nǐ hǎo (你 好) = How are you? Are you well (‘good’)?
  4. Click the Chinese character equivalent to hăo — and check the possible meanings displayed.
  5. If (hăo) is what you mean by good, select the character (double click) and copy it. Note that it is an actual character, not an image file.
  6. Paste the character into your document. If it turns out as a rectangle or a question mark it's probably because the font at that point in your document doesn't cover Chinese characters. If so, select that part of the text and change to a full Unicode font (e.g. Arial Unicode MS).
  7. The characters generated using this method are very large (75 pt). You can reduce that using your text editing software (e.g. Word): select the character[s] and choose a smaller font size.

If you're having trouble with the simple method just described, try replacing step 6 with the following procedure:

All ideographs on this page were produced using the procedures just described. Same goes for the words meaning ‘thank you’
(xiè xiè, 谢谢) and ‘Philip Tagg’ (dàofěilĭ, 道斐理, my Chinese name). That’s the sad extent of my knowledge of Chinese!
You can of course also copy and paste Chinese text from online documents if you can identify the ideographs you need to use.

谢谢 (道斐理)

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

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