Typing in Ancient Greek

Note: This is a collection of sites/tools to help students and enthusiasts. I am posting it gain because I frequently get the question and there is no simple answer

Typing ancient Greek on computers and hand-held devices is increasingly necessary, but remains more difficult than it needs to. I won’t regale you with horror stories of the days of symbol based fonts when every journal used a different format that required separate entry or converters. But, it did involve keyboard maps that looked like this:

Unicode has made things much easier because almost every font can potentially be Greek.

But text entry can remain an issue for new Greek users. The main challenge for those of us with Roman letter keyboards is that we need to be able to use Polytonic Greek (Polytonic means “with many accents and diacritical marks”; most Greek keyboards are for the simpler modern Greek).

Just to clarify, then, the challenge is getting your device to assign the symbols you want to the keyboard you have and to modify these symbols with diacritical marks (breathings, accents, etc.). If you are just copying and pasting things already used in Greek, you don’t actually need to change anything. (And, if you are quoting long portions of Greek text, I strongly suggest just copying and pasting from the TLG, Perseus, etc. and then checking against varied editions.) But if you want to be a Greek Boss you need to change your keyboard settings.

Most devices already have settings that allow you to do this. (There are assistance utilities for those of us who have less patience/ability). Apple/MAC products tend to have simpler instructions, but sometimes still present challenges. PC/Android products can be annoying. But don’t get too frustrated–just imagine what it was like before computers!

Please add comments and I will add to the list.

Resources:

1. A handout for polytonic Greek in a windows environment. Here’s the equivalent for doing it in an Apple one. Here’s a good .pdf from Smith College Classics by Sarah Abowitz

2. For iOS and Android, Ryan Baumann suggests the Hoplite Polytonic Greek Keyboard. See also his page on the ChromeOs extension. Here’s a Linux utility too.

3. A somewhat outdated online guide from Mt. Holyoke. Also see the resources at Penn State’s Symbol Codes or University College of London’s “Greek Fonts and Typing Greek

4. I use the Antioch utility. Campus antivirus programs will not allow it to be downloaded and installed. You need to do it from a private residence. I have not tried Keyman, but it looks promising. A similar utility mentioned by Mt Holyoke and Baumann for Apple products is SophoKeys (yay wordplay!). See also, Bill Thayer’s cyborg Typinator.

5. If all else fails, you can cheat using online input pages: lexilogos, Greek.typeit. or typeGreek, or tastiera greca A commenter has also suggested this inputter.

6. James Tauber also has multi-lesson instruction for typing polytonic Greek: https://greektyping.com

greek keys
I have this beautiful dinosaur in my office.

Note: I am certainly not the first to collect some of these resources. Here’s a twitter picture guide:

5 thoughts on “Typing in Ancient Greek

  1. Assuming you are already well-versed in Classical Greek, copying and pasting words (or occasionally phrases) from Logeion [https://logeion.uchicago.edu/λογεῖον] is something I find very time-saving and useful.

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