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General Unicode Information

General: In the past, both the web page programmer and the casual reader had to use the same font. Typically, this meant that the reader had to find a site from which to download and install the foreign language font that was used by the programmer in order to view the foreign language web page. 

Unicode allows the web page developer to design a foreign language web page using a common universal standard.  The reader may then use any font system that meets the Unicode standard.

The Unicode standard is an evolving standard that is becoming more capable.  Some language fonts are Unicode aware, but they only display Unicode encoding for a limited Unicode range, e.g., they may only display the fonts of one particular language.  Other fonts, like Arial Unicode MS, can display a very wide range of foreign language characters.  However, some of its fonts don't seem as visually pleasing as Times New Roman.  And, Times New Roman comes with Windows 2000, and it displays Arabic, English, Greek, and Hebrew fonts that are well formed.  So, it would be a good choice.

Since Unicode is an encoding scheme that requires a Unicode aware font, the reader must configure his or her browser properly.  The appropriate font must be selected for the web browser as well as the appropriate Encoding (Internet Explorer) or Character Set (Netscape).

Details on configuring both Internet Explorer and Netscape are given on the linked pages.  Click on the appropriate web browser that is named on the side bar of this page.

After the web browser is properly configured, the Sample Text in the next column should display all three languages properly.  The next column has the Sample Text in Unicode and in a Gif image.  The Sample Text Gif image is correctly displayed.  The Sample Text above the Gif image should look similar to the Gif image.

Microsoft Internet Explorer & Email: Microsoft

MS Fonts Used in the Style Sheets: 

Arabic: Arabic Transparent, Traditional Arabic, Times New Roman, Simplified Arabic
Farsi: Farsi Simple Bold, Times New Roman, Arabic Transparent, Nesf
Greek: Times New Roman, Lucida Sans Unicode, Arial Unicode MS
Hebrew: Times New Roman, Lucida Sans Unicode, David

HTML Language Codes: 

Language Codes: ISO 639, Microsoft and Macintosh  by the Unicode Consortium
ISO 639-2 Codes for the Representation of Names of Languages by the Library of Congress

Useful Unicode Links:

Unicode Consortium
Alan Wood's Unicode Resources
FarsiWeb Project

Useful Unicode Charts: 

Index for Unicode HTML Reference
Alan Wood's Unicode Charts

Useful Keyboard Layouts: 

Microsoft Windows Keyboard Layouts
Windows 2000 Visual Keyboard is screen pop-up keyboard representation that helps to locate keys for the various international languages in Microsoft Windows 2000 programs.
Windows XP Visual Keyboard is screen pop-up keyboard representation that helps to locate keys for the various international languages in Microsoft Windows XP programs.
The Key Connection
sells foreign language keyboards.
Fentek Industries Inc sells Arabic keyboards.
Arabic Keyboard layouts shows various Arabic keyboard layouts.

Useful Font's Property tool: 

Font properties extension, version 2.1 

After you install ttfext.exe, if you right click on a font in Windows, the font's properties are displayed. It provides information about the font and its language capabilities. For example, the Gif image shows various languages that Times New Roman version 2.82 supports.

If there are difficulties with these browser and email configurations suggestions, please let me know.  I have not been able to do many tests.

Last updated 12-03-2007

Miscellaneous Font links:

Dr. Shirley's Font Pages
McCreedy's Gallery of Fonts: Arabic
Luc Devroye, School of Computer Science,McGill University
Montreal, Canada
Soft.Vip600 Fonts

Useful Unicode Fonts: 

Arabic True Type Open Fonts Pack from Microsoft has some useful Arabic and Farsi fonts. After the download, click on "arafonts.exe" to install the fonts.

Scheherazade and Lateef Fonts handle complex-script rendering much more smoothly than Traditional Arabic or Times New Roman. The fonts are available for free under the SIL International's Open Font License.

Code2000 font covers various languages including Syriac.
Christoph Singer Slavic Text Processing lists Unicode font download sites.
Athena Greek Unicode  and Galatia SIL Greek Unicode fonts offer accent marks.
Borna Rayaneh has various Unicode Farsi font that may be downloaded. B Lotus and B Nazanin are excellent fonts.
The Shahedy web site has a number of Farsi fonts to download, such as, B Compset, B Badr, B Lotus, and B Zar.
Ezra SIL Hebrew Unicode fonts offer accent marks.
Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute offers Syriac fonts.

If there are difficulties with these browser and email configurations suggestions, please let me know.  I have not been able to do many tests.

Non-Unicode fonts: 

Avesta - Zoroastrian Archives: Avesta
Iranian Chamber Society: Aramaic, Avesta, Cuneiform, Pahlavi, and Parthian fonts
Minnesota Iranian Font Family: Avesta & Pahlavi fonts.
St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church: Coptic fonts.

Sample Text:

Arabic Text (Surah 1:1):

بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Greek Text (John 1:1):

εν αρχη ην ο λογος και ο λογος ην προς
 τον θεον και θεος ην ο λογος 

Hebrew Text (Genesis 1:1):

בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ׃

The Browser Sample Text above should look similar to the gray Gif image of the Sample Text below.

Sample Text in Unicode Encoding:  Unicode encoding as seen in View, Source (Internet Explorer) or View, Page Source (Netscape).  This type of encoding in a page's source code is an indication that Unicode is being utilized to encode the language characters.

Arabic Text (Surah 1:1):


Greek Text (John 1:1):


Hebrew Text (Genesis 1:1):