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You are here: Rendering > Resources > Font FAQ
Short URL: http://scripts.sil.org/EzraSIL_faq_2000XP

Ezra SIL Frequently Asked Questions for Office 2000/XP — FAQ

Christopher Samuel and NRSI staff, 2007-06-15


What changes should I expect with the Ezra SIL fonts?

1. Marks may not display properly or consistently unless Office 2003 or later is installed. Part of the code for displaying Hebrew is included in this software, plus there are numerous bug fixes for language handling.

2. v 1.0 of the Ezra SIL fonts required data to be in the order of:

  • Consonant
  • Sin/Shin dot
  • Dagesh/Rafe
  • Vowel
  • Cantillation

v 2.0 requires data to be in the more restricted order of:

  • Consonant
  • Sin/Shin dot
  • Dagesh/Rafe
  • Vowel
  • Low Cantillation
  • Low Pre-positives
  • High Pre-positives
  • High Cantillation
  • High Post-Positives

v 2.5 requires the same data order, but is more prescriptive in the use of CGJ, ZWJ and ZWNJ.

See Keying in Hebrew.pdf if you are uncertain of the mark classes. This strict order may be handled internally in subsequent versions of Microsoft Office. Other Hebrew fonts may not require this order.

3. Note that where there are multiple vowels or multiple cantillation marks, they should be listed in the order they appear, from right to left and low before high.

4. As shown, cantillation marks which normally occur at the beginning of a word (pre-positives) must follow the first consonant and vowel, according to Unicode 3 requirements. The font will recognize and place them word-initial.

5. These fonts will not correctly display text which is in Unicode 5 canonical order. Use the order in statement 2, above. Some preliminary tests suggest that this is no longer true for Windows Vista or Office 2007, but this has not been checked extensively.

The letters and marks jump around and sometimes they aren't even Hebrew. What's the deal?

There can be problems using the Ezra SIL fonts with Word 2000 and Word 2002, or any software which relies on Uniscribe for displaying text. An updated Uniscribe (1.468.4015.0 or above) is recommended.

Solution 1: If you upgrade to Office 2003, you will have the rest of the code intended for working in biblical Hebrew. Your problem may have a solution below, but while it is possible to use the Ezra SIL fonts in older versions of Office, it may be too inconsistent or frustrating for users to tolerate.

Solution 2: If you are using Office 2003, make sure you have upgraded to v. 2.5 of the Ezra SIL fonts.


Why do the characters I type using the Shift key appear on the right instead of the left?

Problem: Using any Keyman or Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator keyboard, all the Hebrew characters typed without 'shift' are fine. Everything is as it should be. Any character typed with 'shift' (aleph, ayin, final forms, tsere, qamets) appear as the correct character, but at the right hand end of the string, instead of the left. Sometimes, the language indicator in Word 2000 changes to English, but the language indicator on the Windows taskbar remains 'HE' and the Keyman icon on the windows taskbar remains aleph (for Keyman). Sometimes the diacritics are in the wrong place — too far left.

Changing the font and keyboard by hand makes no difference.
Rebooting makes no difference.

More info: Sometimes pressing the Shift key can cause an unwanted font change that breaks correct text rendering in Microsoft Word 2000 or 2002. This bug may display empty boxes, misplace diacritics after consonants, or place consonants on the right end of the line instead of the left.

Solution: This bug is corrected in Office 2003. To get around it in Word 2000 or 2002, type the Hebrew words in an editor such as NotePad. Cut and paste these into Word. Or select the incorrectly displayed text in Word, Cut it and then Paste it back using Paste Special as Unformatted Unicode Text. Reset the font to Ezra SIL and the correct point size.

The text should now display correctly.

One user has offered this solution:

This behavior is probably due to the fact that the user has "Hebrew" added to the Office tools Language Settings and/or XP Language Settings. This activates the native Hebrew scripting/ proofing protocol which tries to use the Shift key for capitalization of the entered word (and thus to the rightmost position or beginning of the word).

To resolve the problem, remove "Hebrew" from the Language Settings in Office Tools (Start / All Programs / Microsoft Office Tools / Microsoft Office Language Settings)

Response: This does appear to solve that problem, but it leads to others. 1. Copying in RTF from BART leads to partial loss of formatting. 2. It is not possible to select Hebrew as language in the find-and-replace dialog to correct formatting errors. 3. Word selection by a double click does not work consistently.

I can't get correct diacritic positioning with the Tiro keyboard in Word 2000.

Try closing the file and then re-opening it.

I can't get correct diacritic positioning with the Keyman keyboard in Word 2000.

Select the text, Cut and Paste Special as Unformatted Unicode Text. This should correct the problem. If not, try closing the file and re-opening it.


How do I get diacritics to position properly?

Cause 1: The application you are using must be OpenType-aware, or you may need to update to Office 2003.

More info: In order for complex behaviors such as diacritic positioning to work, the application must be able to use the OpenType tables in the font. Microsoft Office 2000 and 2002 have limitations in their ability to correctly display biblical Hebrew text, because the programming for Hebrew was not completed until 2003. It is currently available in Office 2003.

While it is possible to use the Ezra SIL fonts in older versions of Office, it may be too inconsistent or frustrating for users to tolerate.

Cause 2: A common problem is that some characters in the word have different formatting than the others. If there is any difference at all in the formatting (e.g., in character spacing or color, font names or sizes, etc.) the application may have to break the sequence into separate "runs."

Solution: Make absolutely sure that the entire word or sequence is formatted the same. One method is to select the text, Edit / Copy, press  Delete  to remove the old text, and then Edit / Paste Special. Select Unformatted Unicode Text to copy it back into the document. Reformat with the Ezra SIL font and size, etc., as needed.

Cause 3: Additionally, the entire word must be interpreted as Right-to-Left. If Word does not guess the correct direction, it may mark certain characters as Left-to-Right which shouldn't be. This can sometimes be seen if you are having trouble selecting text with the mouse. The highlighting will jump back and forth.

Solution: Directionality can be re-set for any amount of text, including the entire document, by selecting it and running the "Set Run rtl" macro, available in  ABS Macros.

The letters are not smooth, but have jagged edges on the screen, even at large sizes.

It may help to turn on ClearType for better screen display. Here are instructions for Windows XP, from Microsoft Help (search on ClearType):

To use ClearType for screen fonts

  1. Open Display in Control Panel.
  2. On the Appearance tab, click Effects.
  3. In the Effects dialog box, select the Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts check box.
  4. Click ClearType in the list.


  • To open Display, click Start, click Control Panel, and then double-click Display.
  • ClearType is ideal for portable computer and other flat screen monitors. ClearType may appear slightly blurry on desktop computer monitors.
  • Whether you select Standard or ClearType from the list, you must have a video card and monitor that support a color setting of at least 256 colors. Best results are achieved with High color (24-bit) or Highest color (32-bit) support. Click the Settings tab to set Color quality.

How do I get verse numbers to stop appearing on the left side of the page?

Word is confused about the directionality of certain characters, such as verse numbers, brackets, and parentheses. Since they start the line, the default directionality is Left-to-Right.

Solution 1: Try selecting the text and setting the language to "Hebrew", if it isn't already. See the bottom center of the window for the language. Double-click to change it.

Solution 2: Directionality can be re-set for any amount of text, including the entire document, by selecting it and running the "Set Run rtl" macro, available in  ABS Macros.

Brackets and parentheses look like they are two different sizes and shapes.

Solution : Again, Word is confused about the directionality. If it assumes Latin (left-to-right), it will substitute a bracket from a Latin font. Try solution 1 or 2 above.

Which parenthesis do I type, right or left?

Sometimes the right parenthesis appears when you type ")" and sometimes you get the left one. This is because certain items are now "mirrored" in Unicode. These include parentheses, brackets, and curly brackets or braces. The application, not the keyboard or the font, determines which one you will get. So if you don't get the right shape when you type ")", try "(".

Licensing and Distribution

Since they're free, can I give a copy of the Ezra SIL fonts to my friends?

Yes, as long as you meet the conditions of the license (do not sell by itself, include the necessary files, rename Modified Versions, do not abuse the Author(s)' name(s) and do not sublicense).

The easiest method for sharing these fonts is to provide the zip or exe file to your friends, or give the URL to the download site:  http://scripts.sil.org/SILHebrUnic2.

This font is now under the SIL Open Font License (OFL) license. Further information on licensing can be found here: OFL-FAQ web version (1.1-update4).

Hebrew in the BHS

What characters are missing from Unicode for biblical Hebrew?

The Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia is a well-known Hebrew text. The Ezra SIL font was designed to display this text specifically. However, earlier versions of Unicode did not define some of the characters used in the BHS. New code points have now been defined and version 2.5 of the fonts handles them correctly. To read about the issues, however, see the links below:

Meteg and Siluq in the BHS Joan Wardell and Christopher Samuel, 2003-09-30
This short discussion on Meteg in biblical Hebrew explains how to encode various placements with a single codepoint.

Reversed Nun in the BHS Joan Wardell, Peter Constable and Christopher Samuel, 2003-11-05
This short discussion of reversed nun explains how it is used in the Ezra SIL fonts.

Puncta in the BHS Joan Wardell and Christopher Samuel, 2003-09-30
This short discussion on Puncta dots in biblical Hebrew and Unicode explains how they are used in the Ezra SIL fonts.

Contact Us

As our fonts and utilities are distributed at no cost, we are unable to provide a commercial level of personal technical support. We will, however, try to resolve problems that are reported to us.

We do hope that you will report problems so they can be addressed in future releases. Even if you are not having any specific problems, but have an idea on how this system could be improved, we want to hear your ideas and suggestions.

Please note that our software products are intended for use by experienced computer users. Installing and using them is not a trivial matter. The most effective technical support is usually provided by an experienced computer user who can personally sit down with you at your computer to troubleshoot the problem.

General troubleshooting information, including frequently asked questions, can be found in the documentation. Additional information is also available on the FAQ pages. If that fails to answer your question, please feel free to contact us!

Page History

2008-02-29 JW: reviewed
2007-06-15 LP: updated for Ezra SIL 2.5

2004-06-11 JW: removed reference to InDesign

?? JW: Page creation

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