Free Unicode fonts and keyboards

Unicode fonts are now becoming standard, and they are easy to use with the free Tyndale Unicode Font Kit.

Almost all word processors now support unicode - with the notable exceptions of Word Perfect on the PC and Word on the Mac before Word 2004. If you use Windows 98 or Mac OS 9 or earlier, you should use the legacy fonts.

The advantages of unicode are

  • All Unicode fonts are interchangeable
    - in theory at least; in practice you need a 'scholarly' Unicode font for Biblical languages.
  • Unicode fonts are loved by publishers
  • Documents with Unicode can go straight to the web
  • No need to make PDFs to make your fonts look right
    - though this is still the safest route if you aren't sure everyone has a Unicode font yet
  • PC and Macintosh Unicode is exactly the same
  • Unicode Hebrew works with true right-to-left formatting and wordwrap.

The Tyndale Unicode Font Kit includes

  • keyboards for easily typing Biblical Hebrew, Greek and Transliteration
  • simple look-alike and sound-alike key positions (see layouts)
  • instructions for customising the keyboards if you want to change the layout
  • the Cardo Unicode font by David Parry - an excellent font for Greek & Hebrew.
  • Hebrew includes vowel pointing and Masoretic punctuation
  • Greek includes breathing, accents and ancient forms
  • Transliteration is on the same keyboard as Greek
  • PC and Mac versions use the same keyboard layout
  • PC installer does all the hard work, with simple instructions for activation
  • any other scholarly Unicode font can be used instead or in conjunction
  • works perfectly with the Unicode Greek & Hebrew Bible Word docs (below)



Legacy fonts for older computers

The best fonts and utilities for both Mac and PC are sold by Linguist Software, though they are expensive. You may prefer the cheaper Greek and Hebrew utilities from Galaxie Software.

To convert older fonts, use the free BibleScript plug-in for Word from Galaxie. it converts common PC & Mac fonts to Galaxie Unicode, so you can then use Find & Replace with Font formatting to convert it to any other academic Unicode.

A wider range of fonts for both PC and Mac is available free from the Summer Institute of Linguistics. They have a very good Hebrew and Greek system, including a Right-to-Left editor but it only works with their Ezra font in a small window from which you copy and paste to other applications.

Perhaps the most useful fonts are the free SP Fonts which are available for Windows and Mac. These are not the most comprehensive but they are easy to use. They can be used on their own without a Keyboard program, or with the RTL (Right To Left) keyboard program (see below). Because these fonts are free, and they are exactly the same on a PC and a Mac, they can be sent to a publisher with your work and they are very suitable for use on a web site.

The Tyndale Greek & Hebrew font kit contains instructions and keyboard files which have been prepared at Tyndale House. It includes free SP fonts for Mac and PC, the Right-to-Left PC program, macros for Word 97 (it does not work with Word 2000+) and Keyboard files which make it very easy to type in Greek and Hebrew. For example:
To write type "Gam"
(upper case inserts the dagesh, and final mem is used automatically when appropriate)
To write type "eis"
(smooth breathing is inserted automatically, diphthongs are recognised and final sigma is used automatically when appropriate).


Free SP Fonts

There are currently eight public domain fonts available for use for non-commercial purposes, e.g., publicly accessible Web sites and printed material. Anyone who wants to use the SP fonts in a commercial electronic product (online, CD-ROM, etc.) must get permission from  Jimmy Adair, the copyright holder, prior to use. If you experience difficulties these fonts or have any questions please contact Christian Kelm.  The Greek fonts use the same encoding scheme as the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, and the Hebrew & Syriac fonts use the Michigan-Claremont encoding scheme. More...

These fonts are in compressed format for Windows and Mac . If your computer doesn't recognise them, get a free uncompression program.
Copy the compressed file to your computer somewhere (e.g. the Desktop) then uncompress them and copy the font files into your Fonts folder (in you Windows or System folder). When you restart your applications, the new fonts will be available. Then delete the compressed files.

SPIonic (a complete biblical Greek font) RTL Guide Guide Win Mac
SPTiberian (a complete biblical Hebrew font) RTL Guide Guide Win Mac
SPDoric (a simpler, uncial Greek font) Guide Win Mac
SPDamascus (a thinner Hebrew font with Palestinian as well as Tiberian vowel points) Guide Win Mac
SPEzra (a simple, fixed-width Hebrew font) Guide Win Mac
SPEdessa (a Syriac Estrangela font) Guide Win Mac
SPAchmim (a Coptic font) Guide Win Mac
SPAtlantis (a transliteration font that includes diacriticals and other special characters that allow the representation of numerous Indo-European, Semitic, and other languages--this font is available in both Roman and Italic type) Guide Win Mac