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NRSI: Computers & Writing Systems

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Short URL: http://scripts.sil.org/UTConvertQ4

When to Convert to Unicode

Can you type all the characters you need?

Albert Bickford, Jim Brase and Lorna Priest, 2007-05-11

Fonts are just one half of what is needed for supporting special characters. You also need to have some easy way to type them, either specialized keyboards that allow you to type all the characters you need or (with some languages) more elaborate input methods called Input Method Editors (IMEs). Here’s where you’ll probably need to consult a computer technician to find one that will give you the characters you need and will work with all the software you want to use (see section Does available Unicode software meet your needs?). For more details about options and some of the issues, see Some tools and resources for character input.

You probably are used to keyboarding characters in a particular way. It may or may not be possible to continue typing things in exactly the same way after you convert to Unicode. For example, if you are used to typing diacritics before base characters as dead keys, you may need to learn to type them afterward. Learning isn’t really very hard, but it does take some time and attention and the willingness to do so. If you’re not prepared to learn a new keyboarding system, then find out if a new keyboard can be built for you that allows you to use the same keystrokes you’re used to using.

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