Fonts Supporting Polytonic Unicode Greek

Greek ManuscriptRod Decker, Professor of Greek and New Testament at Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, recently blogged about how new Vista fonts Cambria, Calibri, Candara, Consolas, Constantia, and Corbel unfortunately do not support polytonic Unicode Greek. Be sure to check out the PDF where he evaluates them.

In a comment, I noted that another new Vista font, Segoe UI, does support polytonic Unicode Greek. I also mentioned some nice polytonic Unicode Greek fonts that come with Adobe’s Creative Suite: “Arno Pro (serif), Garamond Premr Pro (serif), and Hypatia Sans Pro (sans serif)—a free gift downloadable after registering the product.” Decker responded and asked if I would post a PDF with samples, so that’s what I’m doing.

Here is a PDF with every polytonic Unicode Greek font that I’ve been able to get my hands on. Some of them are ugly; some are nice. Most of them are free. The ones that aren’t free have come with products I own.

Gentium has been my font of choice for most circumstances. Minion is also quite nice and would perhaps be my top choice were it not for the spacing problem it has with capital letters bearing diacriticals. (See my comment to Decker for more on this.)

What is your favorite polytonic Unicode Greek font? Did I miss any important ones?

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22 Responses to Fonts Supporting Polytonic Unicode Greek

  1. Rod Decker October 23, 2007 at 11:15 am #

    Thanks for taking the time to post the sample pdf Phil. From what is shown, I agree that Arno Pro is quite nice—and very versatile. But is there no italic face?!

    You flagged my Galilee Unicode font as requiring diacritics being typed before the vowel—but I type them *after* all the time with Keyman. Not sure what entry system you were using. And I’ve never had trouble switching back and forth from other fonts. But now that there are a multitude of other font options, I’m not likely to be developing the font further. I had once dreamed of adding a Hebrew face to the font (and have the glyphs drawn), but then I discovered the complexities of OpenType layout, and I just don’t have the time to learn that system. :(

  2. Phil Gons October 23, 2007 at 11:36 am #

    You’re welcome, Rod.

    No. There is no separate italic font for Arno Pro, at least not that comes with Adobe’s CS3.

    Hmm. Not sure what to say here. I use the Logos Biblical Greek Keyboard, and if I try to type a diacritical after I type the letter (using Galilee Unicode), Word converts it to a different font. The Logos keyboard doesn’t allow typing diacriticals before typing the letter. When I used the Tyndale keyboard, I was able to get it to work fine, but I did have to type the diacritical first.

    Also, if I switch from, say, Gentium to Galilee Unicode, ό, ά, and ή in my example text doesn’t switch. It stays as Gentium. Everything else switches to Galilee Unicode.

    I understand your choice not to keep up with your font, but I commend you for venturing into font development—pretty impressive for a seminary professor!

  3. Rod Decker October 23, 2007 at 2:38 pm #

    pretty impressive for a seminary professor!

    :0) Why so? Are sem profs not supposed to be capable of such things? :)

  4. Phil Gons October 23, 2007 at 2:41 pm #

    Well, you’re the first seminary professor that I’ve seen who made his own font! Most profs are far less technologically inclined. Your understanding and use of technology are impressive.

  5. MGVH October 23, 2007 at 9:06 pm #

    Thank you very much for pulling all these font samples together, Phil. I also appreciate the comments you made about the keyboards. The main issue that accounts for the keyboard issues is how each one deals with composed/combined characters. For example, alpha smooth breathing acute accent is really a combination of Unicode characters 03B1 0313 0301. Logos renders this as exactly those three characters. (The 0313 and 0301 are zero space characters, so they stay over the previous character.) Keyman, however, recognizes this combination and renders it as the alpha/smooth/acute which is Unicode character 1F04. (BTW, to find out these codes, type the character in Word, then hit ALT-X with the cursor immediately after it. To see all available Unicode characters in a font, use BabelMap.)

    Usually the combined character works fine, but depending on the font, it could get ugly. That combined alpha smooth acute looks fine in most polytonic Greek Unicode fonts, but it is a mess in Times New Roman.


    A) I found that Keyman worked well for polytonic Greek, but I have not used it since they started charging for the program. By working well, I mean that it does a good job of recognizing combinations and converting them into the correct composed character (rather than a composite character). As Rod notes, you can type diacritics after the vowel.

    B) I like the Tyndale setup simply because it is so easy for my students to run. I hate it because, as you note, you have to type the diacritics before the vowel. I don’t have the Tyndale keyboard installed anymore, but I think it did render composed characters correctly.

    C) I really like the Logos layout and the ability to type the diacritics after the vowel. The only problem is that they haven’t optimized their keyboard to deal with all the available composed characters and usually just create combined characters.

    SO, as for me, until I get frustrated enough to spend the money and get Keyman, I will stick with the Logos keyboard and one of the fonts that I know works well with it.

  6. MGVH October 23, 2007 at 9:12 pm #

    PS, way back in the day of DOS NotaBene, David Rensberger (now at the International Theological Center in Atlanta) was working on a number of fonts to use with NB. To brag only a little, I also created my own Syriac font that could be used with NB on an 8-pin dot matrix printer. Those were not the good old days…

  7. Phil Gons October 23, 2007 at 9:46 pm #

    Very helpful, Mark! That answers a lot of the questions I had about how things work. I appreciate your sharing this with me!

    Well, I guess there are at least two technologically savvy professors out there. :)

  8. Rick Brannan November 12, 2007 at 3:50 pm #

    Hi Phil.

    Are you familiar with the Greek Font Society typefaces? They’re free and fairly good. Check out:

    Note the sidebar that allows you to see faces representative of a particular period or style.

    Rick Brannan

  9. Phil Gons November 18, 2007 at 3:39 am #

    Wow! Thanks, Rick. I wasn’t familiar with any of those. Some very nice ones! Thanks for pointing them out.

  10. T.W. January 17, 2008 at 3:40 pm #

    I share most of your judgments; I use Gentium for most routine work (including web browsing), and I was disappointed by Minion’s fatal spacing flaw. (Adobe’s other winner, Garamond Premiere Pro, is lovely, but the unavailability of diacritics for capital letters, while historically accurate, is quite eccentric.)

    The best free & easily available font you don’t mention is Old Standard. I also liked Dioxipe, but the page from which I downloaded it now reports, “according to its author, Y. Haralambous, Dioxipe was extracted illegally by a Spanish group from a pdf document; besides this, Haralambous stopped its development; for these reasons he doesn’t wish it to be available online.”

    SBL Greek looks pretty good, and I’ve been checking here occasionally in the hopes of getting a copy to try. But no luck—you don’t know a source, do you?

    GFS is doing great work, but there are strange bugs sprinkled in there. I’m not a convert to any of theirs yet. (GFS Neohellenic would be tempting if it weren’t for the Roman italic a being written like a fishy alpha!)

  11. T.W. January 17, 2008 at 3:45 pm #

    P.S. On keyboards: Manuel Lopez‘ Unicode Greek keyboard for Windows (uses Keyman) has worked so well for me I wouldn’t be tempted to try anything else. Certainly no issues or problems like the ones reported above.

  12. Phil Gons January 18, 2008 at 10:36 pm #

    Thanks for the note, T. W. I was unaware of Old Standard. I appreciate your pointing me to it.

    As for SBL Greek, I downloaded it from a link ( mentioned here, but it is no longer available. John Hudson wrote this on June 21, 2007:

    I removed them to make room for the new Hebrew beta (the release version of which is now available from the SBL website, so I’ll be taking down the Hebrew link too).

    I’m working on a new beta of the Greek. I’ve respaced a lot of glyphs, and this has had a knock-on affect on the hinting at small sizes, so I’m having to review this and fix a pile of things. I’ll post a new Greek beta probably in early July.

    Email me at, and I’ll send you the file.

  13. Ben February 5, 2008 at 6:51 am #

    One thing on keyboards. Anybody can just use the greek polytonic keyboard provided by Windows (for those in the PC world). You would just set it up like you would a new french or german keyboard, and you can automatically switch between languages by holding down Alt Shift. Essentially, it’s just the keyboard that modern Greeks use, but I use it for polytonic stuff all the time without any trouble.

  14. Thomas Phinney June 15, 2008 at 3:12 pm #

    Hi Rod,

    Two things:

    1) Adobe recognized that there were issues in the spacing of polytonic caps for Minion Pro. I believe this was remedied in the revisions to Minion Pro last fall. That revision shipped with Font Folio 11, and will be bundled with some future Adobe applications.

    2) Arno Pro most definitely does have a separate italic font for every upright font in the family. Both the uprights and the italics were bundled with Adobe’s CS3 apps.



    • Phil Gons March 3, 2009 at 7:42 pm #

      Thomas, thanks for the note.

      1. I’m looking forwarded to the updated version of Minion Pro. Hopefully I’ll be able to pick it up at some point.

      2. That’s strange. I have CS3 Web Premium and thought I installed all of the fonts and all of the extras, but I have only these versions of Arno Pro:

      • Arno Pro
      • Arno Pro Caption
      • Arno Pro Display
      • Arno Pro Light Display
      • Arno Pro Smbd
      • Arno Pro Smbd Caption
      • Arno Pro Smbd Display
      • Arno Pro Smbd SmText
      • Arno Pro Smbd Subhead
      • Arno Pro SmText
      • Arno Pro Subhead

      Update: Found my answer here—I think.

  15. Jon April 20, 2009 at 4:59 pm #

    Hmm strange that you don’t have the rest of them, because Arno does have an italic font, and by the way the italic also have swash alternatives, which makes it quite unique in this way! (Have not heard about any other typeface which have that). I really like Arno both for its roman letters but also for the greek. I still remember when I first saw Garamond Premier Pro’s greek letters. I was quite astonished by the calligraphic beauty of it. I have been acquainted to Porson greek and Neohellenic throughout my studies in ancient Greek and they don’t convey any real aesthetical pleasure. For bigger portions of text Garamond Premier Pro are maybe a little too eccentric, and therefore it’s great to have Arno. Minion is also nice, but look at Arno, it conveys the feeling of a master renaissance scribe and it is still very readable. I must confess, that I really adore Slimbach’s designs, and one of the reasons is, that he has managed to excel equally well in both the greek and roman alphabet.
    Jon P. Jorgensen. Student in classical Greek and Latin – Copenhagen.

    • Phil Gons April 21, 2009 at 7:05 pm #

      Thanks for sharing, Jon. BTW, I was mistaken about the italic and bold fonts being missing. They just don’t show up as separate fonts in Word, but Word automatically applies the italic and bold version.

  16. Simos May 10, 2009 at 3:29 pm #

    If anyone is using Linux, here are instructions on how to type Greek Polytonic,

    These instructions include a simplification in the Greek keyboard layout that has been enabled in Ubuntu Linux 9.04, Fedora 11 and newer versions.

    In addition to the Greek Font Society fonts (these are ‘open-source’ fonts, distributed with the Open Font License), there are other fonts for ancient scripts from

  17. Than Bailey April 18, 2010 at 5:45 pm #


    I downloaded a GraEca font–one that I FORMERLY use but had somehow lost–

    and tried EVERYTHING to get circumflex on eta (h) and omega (w) but succeeded not.

    There is a way of course, but how???

    Thanks for the info!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Izzy June 14, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    Thanks for writing this post; it is very helpful.

    Another excellent font that you might want to include is ‘the Brill.’ It was developed by Brill publishing and is freely distributed by them for non-commercial use. They designed it with classical scholars in mind and so it has “complete coverage of Ancient Greek, including metrical, papyrological and epigraphic characters.”


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