Typing Greek

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Projects that contain substantial quantities of Greek may now allow proofreaders and formatters to proof the Greek letters directly rather then having to transliterate as previously. The Greek letters may be selected from the character pickers in the proofing and formatting interfaces, or may be input using one of the other techniques described on this wiki page.

It is however, possible on most systems to input Greek directly using keystrokes on a standard keyboard. Below are instructions to support this process for Windows, Mac and Linux systems. The proofing and formatting interfaces support this method of entering Greek characters, but some programs, e.g. Guiguts, do not. To enter Greek into such a program requires typing into a standard text editor or using a web-based tool, then copying and pasting the result.

Useful web-based tools for typing Greek

These tools do not require any language or keyboard installation or setup on your computer. They allow you to type using standard letters from your keyboard, but with Greek letters appearing in the text window of the tool. Once you have the Greek passage correct, you can copy and paste it where you need it. Each tool uses a system of additional keystrokes to add the accents and breathing, such as typing 'ha' or 'a(' in order to get the letter ἁ.

  • TypeGreek - Type from the keyboard - uses beta code with minor variations
  • Lexilogos Ancient Greek - Click on-screen characters or type from the keyboard - uses its own system of adding accents

Using the keyboard to input Greek directly on Windows

Chances are that if you want to type Greek directly on your Windows keyboard for DP, you will be most likely to be using the Polytonic Greek characters. If you've never enabled additional keyboards before, be aware that with each new version of the operating system, there may be small differences in exactly where to look. These instructions are for Windows 10, but a similar process should work for other versions.

Install the Greek language/keyboard

  1. Open Settings from the Start menu and choose Time & Language
Greek KB Win10 1 Time-language.png

  1. Choose Language from the menu on the left, then Add a preferred language
Greek KB Win10 2 Add language.png

  1. Choose Greek from the list of languages (you can scroll down or type Greek in the search box), then Next then Install
Greek KB Win10 3 Choose Greek.png

  1. Once the Greek language pack is installed, choose it on the languages settings page (note that the word Greek will be written in Greek, Ελληνικά) then choose Options
Greek KB Win10 4 Options.png

  1. Choose Add a keyboard, then pick the Greek Polytonic keyboard
Greek KB Win10 5 Add keyboard.png

  1. Unless you will need it, remove the modern Greek keyboard, leaving just the Polytonic
Greek KB Win10 6 Remove keyboard.png

  1. Use the Input indicator icon from the taskbar or the Windows key + Space to switch your input language to Greek and back

Use the Greek keyboard to type Greek

Basic letters

Most Greek letters correspond to their equivalent Latin keys.

Tip: You can use the <Windows key> + <Ctrl> + O to pop up the on-screen keyboard

Greek KB Win10 7 Lower Keyboard.png
Greek KB Win10 8 Upper Keyboard.png

Note regarding non-US keyboards

By referring to the the on-screen keyboard and your own physical keyboard, you should be able to work out which keys correspond to which accents if the ones listed below do not work. The location of the key on the keyboard is what is relevant, rather than what is printed on the key. For example, on a physical UK keyboard, Shift+' gives @ rather than ". So in the list below where " is used for polytonic Greek typing, on a UK keyboard you would actually press the @ symbol. Similarly, press # and ~ for \ and |. Physical keyboards for other languages may have other differences. In the worst case, you may have to use the on-screen keyboard (<Windows key> + <Ctrl> + O) to get the most obscure combinations of accents, breathing and subscripts.

Accents and Breathing

To type characters with accents, you first type the key for the accent, then the key for the letter. For example, the q gives an acute accent, so typing q a will give ά. In contrast with some other dead key systems, there is a single key press (possibly with <Shift> or <Right Alt> modifiers) for all combined accents and breathing - you do not press one key for acute accent followed by another key for smooth breathing followed by your letter. See below for details.

Accent Key Result
acute q ά
grave ]
circumflex [

Smooth breathing may be placed on its own or combined with other accents:

Accent Key Result
smooth breathing '
smooth+acute /
smooth+grave \
smooth+circumflex =

Rough breathing uses the same keys as smooth breathing, but with the <Shift> key held down when pressing the accent key:

Accent Key Result
rough breathing "
rough+acute ?
rough+grave |
rough+circumflex +

The iota subscript may be placed on its own or combined with the above accents:

Accent Key Result
iota subscript {

To add an iota subscript to any of the above accents, hold the <Right Alt> (maybe marked as Alt Gr) key when pressing the accent keys described above. For example, for acute accent and iota subscript, ᾴ, press <Right Alt>+q a. Don't forget for rough breathing you will need to press <Shift> as well as <Right Alt>.

Using the keyboard to input Greek directly on a Mac

Chances are that if you want to type Greek directly on your Mac keyboard for DP, you will be most likely to be using the Polytonic Greek characters. If you've never enabled additional keyboards before, be aware that with each new version of the operating system, there may be small differences in exactly where to look. As of macOS 10.15 (Catalina), go to System Preferences->Keyboard. Under the Keyboard tab, select "Show keyboard and emoji viewers in menu bar. Under the Input Sources tab, click on the + to add a keyboard, and choose Greek - Polytonic from the list. If it's not already chosen, click the checkbox for "Show Input menu in menu bar".

In the menu bar, click on the menu that shows which keyboard you're using. The top section shows the keyboards you have enabled. The next section down allows you to bring up the Emoji & Symbols Character Viewer and the Keyboard Viewer. If you open the Keyboard Viewer, and choose the Polytonic Greek keyboard, the display should look similar to:

Keyviewer mac greek diacriticals.png

The orange outlines are around the keys that are considered dead-keys: type the key that shows the diacritical combination you want, followed by the letter that you need that takes that diacritical. The above keyboard shows the unshifted marks -- where there's a breathing mark, it's smooth. The following keyboard shows the shifted marks -- where there's a breathing mark, it's rough.

Keyviewer mac greek diacriticals shifted.png

Once you release the appropriate mark, the keys on the keyboard with an orange outline will show those characters that are eligible to take that mark. The following example shows the letters (unshifted) that can take a rough breathing mark with a circumflex.

Keyviewer mac greek diacriticals allowed.png

The iota subscript and breve are available by holding down the option key [no screenshot].


On Ubuntu 20.04 the process is:

Settings | Language and Region | Manage Installed Languages | Install/Remove Languages

Add Greek (polytonic)