Contact Us


Initiative B@bel

WSI Guidelines


















Type Design


Design Tools



Font Downloads










Font FAQ



NRSI: Computers & Writing Systems


You are here: Type Design > Resources > Font Downloads
Short URL: http://scripts.sil.org/AbyssinicaSIL_UsersGuide

Abyssinica SIL Font Documentation

Lorna Evans, 2013-12-13


The Abyssinica SIL font has been moved to a new web site. Please  click here for the new site.


The Abyssinica SIL font has been moved to a new web site. Please  click here for the new site.

Table of Contents for this web page:

System requirements

The Abyssinica SIL font is designed to work on systems and with applications that provide support for TrueType fonts and for Unicode character encoding. This includes Microsoft Windows® 9x or greater, as well as recent versions of the Mac OS (version 9.0 and later), and also some implementations of Unix / Linux (TrueType font support on Unix and Linux may depend upon the particular applications in use).

The preceding characterization of system requirements describes the minimum needed to display characters. Realizing the full capabilities of this font involves additional requirements. This release of the font is designed to work with two advanced font technologies: Graphite and OpenType. An older version of the font contained support for AAT. That support is no longer included in this font. Standard use of the Ethiopic script does not require any of these smart font technologies. However, to take advantage of the advanced typographic capabilities of this font, you must be using applications that provide an adequate level of support for Graphite or OpenType. Microsoft Office 2010 supports dynamic positioning of most diacritics (but not U+135D or U+135E) over the Ethiopic range (U+1200..U+135A) but not over Ethiopic Supplement or Ethiopic Extended characters. However, Microsoft Publisher 2003 does support dynamic positioning of U+135F  ETHIOPIC COMBINING GEMINATION MARK. There are currently few applications which make use of the Graphite capabilities of the font. These include all applications in the  FieldWorks Suite (such as Data Notebook and WorldPad) as well as a  OpenOffice 3.2+.


Type samples showing some of the inventory of glyphs can be downloaded here. A sample from one page is shown below. For a complete list of characters included in Abyssinica SIL, see Supported character ranges, below.

Abyssinica SIL Type Sample
Lorna Evans, 2013-12-13
Download "AbyssinicaSIL1.500TypeSample.pdf", Acrobat PDF document, 319KB [918 downloads]

Abyssinica SIL Sample - Ethiopic syllables

Supported character ranges

This font supports 495 Ethiopic characters and over 240 Latin characters from the Unicode 6.0 standard, as well as over 125 Private Use Area (PUA) characters. In total, 987 glyphs are included. The following character ranges constitute many of the characters supported by this font:

C0 Controls and Basic Latin U+0020..U+007E
C1 Controls and Latin-1 Supplement U+00A0..U+00FF
Latin Extended-A U+0131, U+0152..U+0153, U+0160..U+0161, U+0178, U+017D..U+017E
Latin Extended-B U+0192
Spacing Modifier Letters U+02C6, U+02C7, U+02D8..U+02DD
Combining Diacritical Marks U+0300..U+0304, U+0307..U+0308, U+030B..U+030C, U+030F
Greek U+03C0
Ethiopic U+1200..137C
Ethiopic Supplemental U+1380..U+1399
Ethiopic Extended U+2D80..U+2DDE
General Punctuation U+2000..U+2015, U+2018..U+201A, U+201C..U+201E, U+2020..U+2022, U+2026..U+2030, U+2039..U+203B, U+2044, U+2060
Superscripts and Subscripts U+2070, U+2074..U+2079
Currency Symbols U+20AC
Letterlike Symbols U+2122, U+2126
Mathematical Operators U+2202, U+2205..U+2206, U+220F, U+2211, U+2219..U+221A, U+221E, U+222B, U+2248, U+2260, U+2264..U+2265 Geometric Shapes U+25CC
Dingbats U+2713
Ethiopic Extended-A U+AB00..U+AB2E
PUA U+E021, U+E029, U+E031, U+E039..U+E043, U+E068..U+E06E, U+E070..U+E072, U+E200, U+E202..U+E205, U+E217, U+E227, U+E230..U+E236, U+E24F, U+E257, U+E25F, U+E26F, U+E290..E296, U+E2A8..U+E2AE, U+E2B7, U+E2BF, U+E2D7..U+E2DE, U+E2E7, U+E2F8..U+E2FE, U+E313, U+E318..U+E31F, U+E328..U+E32E, U+E338..U+E33F, U+E343, U+E34F, U+E380..U+E386, U+E400..U+E406, U+E408, U+E410..U+E416, U+E490..U+E494, U+E496, U+E498..U+E49A
Alphabetic Presentation Forms U+FB01..U+FB02

Supported character ranges

Private-use (PUA) characters supported by Abyssinica SIL

PUA characters in the font are documented in SILEthiopicPrivateUseAreaBlock.pdf which is included in the font download as well as in a separate download here:

Lorna A. Priest, 2006-04-17
Download "AbyssinicaSIL_PUA.pdf", Acrobat PDF document, 185KB [4342 downloads]

The majority of the PUA characters have now been encoded into Unicode and it should not be necessary to use the PUA codepoints. Some of the PUA codepoints are actually glyph variants of characters already encoded in Unicode. These are now available through Stylistics Sets and Graphite features. See next.

Advanced typographic capabilities

This font supports various advanced typographic capabilities using the Graphite and OpenType font technologies.

  • Auto placement of diacritics (one level only) on Ethiopic syllables only (not on Latin characters)
  • Kerning of almost 200 pairs of Ethiopic syllables
  • Stylistic Sets or Graphite features

These capabilities are available in any application that supports the Graphite technology. They are also available via the OpenType technology, though this requires applications that provide a sufficient level of support for OpenType features. Currently, the only applications that adequately support the Stylistic Sets are Word 2010 and InDesign CS4+.

A sample of diacritic placement and kerning is shown below:

Abyssinica SIL Sample - Diacritic placement and Kerning

The documents below illustrate how to use OpenType Stylistic Sets, Character Variants, Graphite features in Word 2010 and InDesign 4.0+. A TypeTuner Guide is also provided.

Description of Stylistic Sets and Character Variants in Abyssinica SIL
Lorna Evans, 2013-12-13
Download "AbyssinicaSIL1.500OpenTypeFontFeatures.pdf", Acrobat PDF document, 469KB [801 downloads]
Description of Graphite Features in Abyssinica SIL
Lorna Evans, 2013-12-13
Download "AbyssinicaSIL1.500GraphiteFeatures.pdf", Acrobat PDF document, 281KB [588 downloads]
Description of TypeTuner Features in Abyssinica SIL
Lorna Evans, 2013-12-13
Download "AbyssinicaSIL1.500TypeTunerGuide.pdf", Acrobat PDF document, 342KB [787 downloads]


In order to use this font with existing data that was created for use with fonts developed using custom-encoded fonts, it is necessary to re-type or convert data to produce data that is encoded in conformance with the Unicode Standard. SILConverters 4.0 and/or TECkit can be used for character encoding conversion. TECkit allows users to write their own custom conversion mappings.

The TECkit package is available for download from SIL’s TECkit Web site: TECkit.

Three TECkit mapping files (compiled and uncompiled) are available as a separate download (SIL-Ethiopia (Latin to Fidel) Unicode mapping). They are intended for use where text has been input “phonetically” as a syllable (be, ppii, etc.) and conversion to fidel is desired (, , etc.).

If you used an earlier version of the Abyssinica SIL font, and used some of the Private Use Area (PUA) codepoints in your data, you may wish to use the PUA to Unicode mapping file) to convert your data from PUA codepoints to Unicode 6.0.


The ability to obtain the full benefits of this font is also dependent upon having means for Unicode character input. A package that includes a Keyman keyboard for use with Windows, a KMFL keyboard for Linux and a keyboard layout file for Mac OS X are all available. See the download page.

Various other means may be available for different operating-system platforms to create additional input methods. For instance,  Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator can be used for this purpose on Microsoft Windows. Windows Vista and Windows 7 provide an Ethiopic IME.

For the Mac, version 10.2 of Mac OS X includes a mechanism for users to create custom Unicode keyboard layouts (see  http://developer.apple.com/technotes/tn2002/tn2056.html).

 Ge'ez Script Keyman Keyboards

 The Ethiopic Unicode Resource Page

© 2003-2017 SIL International, all rights reserved, unless otherwise noted elsewhere on this page.
Provided by SIL's Non-Roman Script Initiative. Contact us here.