Standard Mapping Initiative

General guidelines

In an attempt to get a standard mapping for Greek, these are the guidelines we are following. When the process is done, the Greek font will be released for free. This is a work in progress and we are working with many of the major font and software publishers. While they are interested in a standard mapping, their primary concern is client reaction to changing their mapping. If you would like them to move to a standard mapping, drop them a note and tell them the hassle is worth the standard.

1. Same mapping of the basic characters for Mac and Windows.

2. Because of the limitations of Windows, the high ASCII values should not be used for the basic characters.

3. Specialized characters (special accents, etc.) and other diacriticals can be placed in high ASCII if necessary. Because there is no room in lower ASCII for "thin" accents (those over an iota), they should be placed mnemonically based on the use of the option key on the Macintosh (e.g., option-v for acute over iota). Since most typesetting is done on the Macintosh, these are useful characters, but few Windows software programs need them. The option-tilde combination does not work, so the tilde key should not be used for an accent unless necessary.

4. Number keys should not be used (except for rarely used characters) because it is more difficult to type with them. The following characters should occur in the Greek font: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 & *, especially for the sake of the software programs that may use these keys for other purposes. The remaining characters over the number keys should be used only as a last resort since mnemonics are difficult.

5. Shifted and unshifted keys for breathings should use smooth breathing for lower case and rough breathing for upper case.

6. Unshifted keys should be used for accents if possible for ease of typing, because of their frequency.

7. Shifted accent keys could be used for accents that do not back up, but there are few of these actually needed.

8. There are two sets of three keys in a row. This should be used for the pattern of acute, grave, and circumflex, since mnemonically (and linguistically) an acute + grave = a circumflex.

This same left to right pattern can be used for the main accents, placing acute on the "v", grave on the ";", and circumflex on the ":" keys.

9. Double and single quote key not used because of the smart quote options in word processors.

10. Attention needs to be paid to what keys the computer programs use for delimiters, wild cards, etc.


It appears that a standard mapping has been agreed upon except for the final sigma. Q (theta) is the only letter that is not mnemonically obvious. There is some variation for final sigma. This leaves v/V and j/J open for use.

Accents and breathings

smooth breathing
rough breathing
V final sigma
[ smooth + acute
] smooth + grave
\ smooth + circumflex
{ rough + acute
} rough + grave
| rough + circumflex
; grave
: circumflex
, comma
< diaeresis + acute
. period
> diaeresis + grave
/ iota subscript
? diaeresis + circumflex

The slots for <, >, and ? are especially good locations and perhaps should not be spent on the diaeresis, but they do allow the pattern established on the [ ] \ keys to be continued. They could also be used for the Greek semi-colon and the Greek question mark, or these punctuation marks could be placed on the tilde key (see below).

The square brackets are used in the Greek text, but it seems unfortunate to use them just for brackets when they can serve a better use with accents. Our recommendation is to use the parentheses slots for square brackets.

Remaining slots available if necessary. Thin accents use the option + normal keystroke.

@ diaeresis
$ diaeresis + acute (alternate)
% diaeresis + grave (alternate)
^ diaeresis + circumflex (alternate)
_ _
= non-backing smooth breathing
+ non-backing rough breathing

Still need to place several non-backing combinations with both rough and smooth breathings. The Greek font may also an English colon.

Other keys

~ raised dot (Greek semi-colon)
` semi-colon (Greek question mark)