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The APA GreekKeys Unicode Fonts

November 11, 2015: sales of GreekKeys 2008 ceased on October 28. The updated product GreekKeys 2015 is now available at the web site of the Society for Classical Studies (free to SCS members, $20 for non-members, free or discounted for those who purchased GreekKeys 2008 on or after August 1, 2014). Click here for the new sales and support site.

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GreekKeys 2008 contains four extensive TrueType fonts suitable for use on Mac OS, Windows, and Unix computers.

New Athena Unicode is the most extensive font, since it contains all the characters of the other three fonts plus additional more specialized items from Unicode 5.0 and beyond: the Coptic block (U+2C80 etc.) , the Ancient Greek Numbers block (U+10140 etc.), the Old Italic block (U+10300 etc.), Ancient Greek Musical Notation block (U+1D200 etc.), and a few others. For a full listing of the code points contained in the font, please see the PDF NAUcmap3_71.pdf included in the Unicode Fonts folder of GreekKeys 2008, or the online version of the same (NAUcmap3_71.txt). New Athena Unicode is made freely available to all, and users are advised to check the download page from time to time for updated versions, which may be more recent than the one in the GreekKeys 2008 package.

New Athena Unicode is an expansion of the APA GreekKeys non-Unicode font Athenian. Athenian was designed by Jeffrey Rusten, based on various Greek upright fonts illustrated in Victor Scholderer, Greek Printing Types 1465-1927 (London 1927): that of Nicolaus Jenson (1472, plate 7), the Complutum Greek Testament (ca. 1510), Robert Proctor's "Otter" (1910, plate 59) and Victor Scholderer's "New Hellenic" (1927, plate 58). Rusten produced Athena Unicode as a first experiment with Unicode fonts, and Ralph Hancock made additions and corrections. In 2002 Donald Mastronarde began expansion and enhancements of the font, renaming it New Athena Unicode. For details about the stages of development, see the document AboutNAUfont_v3_2.pdf contained in the Unicode Fonts folder of the GreekKeys 2008 package. Whenever an updated version of this font is posted on the download page, the download includes an updated revision history in the About document.


font sample New Athena Unicode

The three remaining APA fonts are licensed to purchasers of GreekKeys 2008. The correction history of these fonts is contained in the document APAFontsRevisionHistory.pdf found in the Unicode Fonts folder of GreekKeys 2008. new label As of February 2012 styled versions of these three fonts are also available for testing and feedback. See the APA announcement.

AttikaU font is an expansion of the APA GreekKeys non-Unicode font Attika. Attika was designed by George B. Walsh in 1986, in tribute to the font "Attika" designed in 1953 by the renowned typographer Hermann Zapf. The Unicode version was produced by Donald Mastronarde.


font sample AttikaU

KadmosU font is an expansion of the non-Unicode GreekKeys-encoded font Kadmos designed by Marc Cogan of Allotype Typographics, who donated the font to the APA in 2004. The Unicode version was produced by Donald Mastronarde.


font sample KadmosU

BosporosU font is an expansion of the non-Unicode GreekKeys-encoded font Bosporos designed by Marc Cogan of Allotype Typographics, who donated the font to the APA in 2004. The Unicode version was produced by Donald Mastronarde.


font sample BosporosU

A note on line spacing

For legibility of the accents, the APA fonts have characters that extend vertically up and down farther than most fonts. In some cases, tops or bottoms of characters may appear cut off on the computer screen, although they will print completely. If this happens, it is a good idea to adjust the paragraph formatting entry for line spacing. In Microsoft Word, for instance, instead of using the setting "single" use the setting "at least" and make the line high 2 or 3 points greater than the font size you are using. That is, if you are typing in 12-point BosporosU, set the line spacing to at least 14 or 15 points; or if you are typing in 14-point KadmosU, set the line spacing to at least 16 or 17 points.

Smart font features

All the APA GreekKeys Unicode fonts contain smart font features defined in accordance with the OpenType standard. Two types of features are included.

The "liga" (ligature) feature gives rules for replacing various sequences of decomposed code points for separate glyphs with a single glyph (even though the underlying data will still contain the separate glyphs. For example, the sequence U+03b1, U+0306, U+0313, U+0301 (alpha, combining breve, combining smooth breathing, combining acute accent), which without a substitution would appear as a jumble of diacritics poorly placed or overlapping on top of small alpha, is defined to be represented by a single precomposed glyph in which the combining elements are correctly placed. But the four codepoints are still in the textual data, and if you use the delete/backspace key repeatedly, then the glyph will first be replaced by alpha with breve and smooth, then by alpha with breve, then by alpha, and finally will be completed deleted. In contrast, if you input the same precomposed glyph using the PUA code point U+EB0C, then a single use of the delete key will remove the glyph. Most application either read the OpenType ligature instructions or don't. Thus if you use the decomposed input in the Mac OS applications TextEdit, Pages, Keynote, Mellel, NeoOffice, InDesign, and some others, or in the Windows applications Word 2003 (or later), OpenOffice Writer, InDesign, Internet Explorer 7, Safari for Windows, and some others, the ligatures simply work. If you use them in Word 2004 for Mac OS X, they do not work. If you use them in Word 2008 for Mac OS X, they work only after you enable the use of ligatures in a specific document (the application-wide setting is such that ligatures are off by default). Ligatures are not supported in Firefox browsers as of January 2008.

The "aalt" (access all alternatives) feature gives rules for allowing a choice among the various treatments of capital vowels with adscript/subscript iota in the fonts. The fonts present by default the type of glyphs with a full-size small iota adjacent to a capital vowel (or a capital iota adjacent to a capital vowel in the form without any diacritic). An application could provide access to a typography palette in which you can change this default to one of the other choices (capital vowel with subscript or capital vowel with adscript iota of reduced size), but I am unaware of any that do so for the OpenType version of this choice.

Earlier versions of the APA Unicode fonts contain a duplication of the OpenType definitions in the competing smart font feature language of Apple Advanced Typography (AAT). Since the AAT ligatures for epsilon and omicron with macron and two diacritics consistently fail in AAT and since the presence of the AAT features prevents applications from making use of the OpenType features (which have no such failings in the OS X applications that can read them), the fonts released with GreekKeys 2008 contain only OpenType features and no AAT features. The OpenType features are used correctly by TextEdit, Pages, Keynote, NeoOffice, and Word 2008 because the AAT features have been omitted. For the moment no final-release free browser for Mac OS X supports OpenType ligatures, but Firefox 3 beta 2 does work. Any user who has a particular need for a font with the AAT features added may contact Donald Mastronarde.

If you intend to use ligatures, please ensure that you are aware of known limitations and compatibility issues, discussed on the compatibility page.

How to make OpenType ligatures appear in Word 2008 for Mac OS X

By default, Word 2008 does not pay any attention to OpenType ligatures that may be defined in a font. You must turn this feature on for each document in which you want it to work. The easiest and most accessible way to turn ligatures on in a document is to open the Font format panel (command-d, or Font… under the Format command). There you will see a section labelled Advanced with a checkbox for "Enable all ligatures in document."

If you search for "ligature" in Word Help, you will not be told of this easy way, but of a more concealed method. The other switch for ligatures is in the formatting palette, but it is not visible to the user unless the user selects the Publishing Layout View. Once you select that view and enable the feature, then you can return to the view you were using before.

A third way to have ready access to this switch is to place the command on a visible toolbar, as follows:

1. Under the View menu select Customize toolbars and menus…

2. Select All Commands under Categories.

3. Scroll in the Commands list to LigatureDocument

4. Drag that item to a toolbar that you regularly keep visible.

Other fonts to use GreekKeys Unicode inputs/keyboards

If you are sticking to the principal Greek polytonic characters in the Greek and Coptic and Greek Extended ranges, there are a number of fonts that contain them. In Mac OS X, the system fonts Lucida Grande (10.3 and higher), Times (10.4 and higher), and Helvetica and Courier (10.5 and higher) are among those that have the basic polytonic Greek characters, and installing Microsoft Office 2008 will give you several more fonts, such as Arial, Tahoma, and Times New Roman (although you may need to take some steps to be sure the newer versions of some fonts are the ones being used by your system: see the FAQ). In Windows XP, the system fonts with polytonic Greek support include Arial Unicode, Palatino Linotype, Tahoma, and Microsoft Sans Serif; and on some Windows systems, but not all, apparently Times New Roman. Vista probably includes a few more fonts with polytonic Greek.

Two nice free Unicode fonts are Gentium and Cardo. Some fonts of the GreekFont Society have been revised as OpenType fonts with Unicode encoding and have in the past been available for download, but the web site has not been maintained. A Google search for Greek Font Society may reveal whether it has been restored. Others suggestions can be found in the TLG Unicode font list.

If you want to use the newest Unicode characters for epigraphic and papyrological symbols and others included in recent Unicode proposals by the TLG, New Athena Unicode and Cardo have the largest set, and some symbols are in Apple Symbol font in 10.5 and higher; but it will take time before other fonts include them (and some fonts may never do so). AttikaU, KadmosU, and BosporosU contain somewhat fewer characters than New Athena Unicode, since they lack the symbols in SMP and the Coptic and Old Italic blocks.