Typing Polytonic Greek in a Windows Environment

DCC board member Wille Major of Louisiana State University  sends along this handy guide to typing polytonic Greek in a Windows environment—no special keyboard required.

in a Windows environment

This is a practical guide to setting up Windows to type ancient (polytonic) Greek. It does not require you to purchase or install any software, just to activate a feature in Windows.

Step 1:  Activate polytonic Greek in Windows

Setup instructions for Windows Vista or Windows 7
1. Go to the Control Panel.
2. Select Clock, Language and Region (or Regional and Language Options).
3. Select Change keyboards and other input methods.
4. A window will appear. Select Change Keyboards button.
5. A window will appear with three tabs. The “general” tab is open by default. Click the Add button.
6. You will see a list of keyboards based on languages. Scroll down and click on Greek, and then select Greek Polytonic keyboard.
7. Click OK on this tab and then all the previous tabs until you are back in the Control Panel. Close the Control Panel.

Setup instructions for Windows XP
1. Go to the Control Panel.
2. Double-click Regional and Language Options.
3. Click the Languages tab,
4. Click Details under “Text Services and Input Languages”
5. Click Add under “Installed Services”
6. You will see a list of keyboards based on languages. Click on Greek Polytonic from the list.
7. Click OK on this tab and then all the previous tabs until you are back in the Control Panel. Close the Control Panel

After you activate Polytonic Greek, you should have a language button or taskbar similar to one of the images below.
• The English keyboard is represented by the letters EN.
• The Greek keyboard is represented by EL.
By clicking on this symbol, you can toggle between the English and Greek keyboard at any time! You can move and manipulate the appearance of the bar if you wish.

EN bar

EN toolbar 2

If you want, you can pull up keyboard images and type directly on them.
• Go to START:
• select “On-screen Keyboard”

IMPORTANT: No matter how you input polytonic Greek, you must use a Unicode font. If the basic alphabet and vowels with acute accents appear correctly, but other accents and breathings do not appear correctly, it is because the font you are using is not consistent with Unicode. There are many Unicode fonts available, but a good one that comes with Windows is “Palatino Linotype.”

Step 2. The keyboard layout of the Greek alphabet and punctuation

These layouts show the placement of the letters. This arrangement is the same for Ancient and Modern Greek keyboards. The keys in yellow will be used for placing polytonic diacritical marks:

keyboard maps


  • The period and comma are the same as on the standard English keyboard.
  • Half-stop: hold the <shift> key & right-hand <alt> key, then type the ] key: type <shift>&<right alt> ]  → ·
  • Question mark: type q <space> → ;

remember: “q for question”!
Make sure to type the space after the q. Otherwise, if you type a vowel next, it will put an accent on the vowel. (See below.)

  • For the acute accent, type the semi-colon (;) key, then the vowel: for example: type ; a → ά

Ancient polytonic Greek in Windows-3

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